Preparation? Please. You’ve already got this in the bag.

You’ve ordered product months ago, hired temporary staff you know you can count on, planned a charming in-store event and sent a loving email with special discounts for your most loyal shoppers. You’re a pro, but that doesn’t mean Friday and Saturday are any less nerve-wracking! So we put together a checklist to make sure you didn’t miss a thing and are prepared for this exciting, challenging weekend.

Have you optimized your store layout?

Make the path to purchase a literal one by designating an area for a register line. Keeping the line orderly helps to ensure those customers don’t block incoming visitors from being able to move through your store freely.

✓ If you offer gift wrapping, keep a clean surface clear. Depending on your store layout, it might make sense to have a separate station for wrapping positioned away from the register to remove the likelihood of a traffic jam. (Nicole Reyhle of Retail Minded suggests pre-wrapping some of your top sellers for a quick grab, pay and go.)

Can new customers find you easily?

Add extended holiday hours on your Google My Business profile and your Facebook page so shoppers strategizing via social media and Maps can plan their visit. It may seem like a small thing, but having incorrectly listed hours could discourage some visitors from including your in their shopping plans! Same goes for driving and parking directions, especially if your store is hard to see from the road.

✓ If you’re an independent retailer, add yourself to the Shop Small map for an extra layer of visibility on Saturday.

Does your staff have their marching orders?

Keep at least one person at the register and only at the register for a super-quick checkout process. Nothing worse than a long register line scaring would-be customers away! Station an energetic sidekick at their elbow to run to the back, switch out sizes and place online orders so your cashier can focus on checking out customers.

Plan breaks in advance. You can’t make do with your sales team absent at a high-traffic time of day, but you also can’t have cranky staff still waiting for their lunch break at 4:30. Review foot traffic data from previous busy days to plan breaks when staff demand will be less urgent.

✓ If you have a restroom for customers, schedule cleanings every hour at the least. A spotless bathroom makes a great impression and is a much-appreciated mercy for over-caffeinated shoppers away from home all day! Due to bathrooms being a high-risk location for shrink, regularly checking the bathroom can also help to prevent loss.

Have you checked the weather?

✓ Black Friday and Small Business Saturday are huge days for retail no matter the temperature, but weather is still a high-impact variable for bringing in foot traffic: Nine out of 10 in-store dollars you make above or below your average revenue is due to the weather! Will it be warm and sunny? Display some merchandise outside to bring in passersby enjoying the weather. If rain is on the way, station some of your staff by the door with umbrellas to walk customers and their new purchases to their cars.

Do you have a system for measuring foot traffic?

You know what would make this year’s holiday season easier? Year-over-year conversion rate data from historical high-traffic days, down to the hour. Most retailers look at sales data to determine what their holiday staffing needs are, but that point of sale data only tells you when people made a purchase. It doesn't answer these crucial questions:

  • How many opportunities did you miss when a potential customer walks in and walks out without making a purchase?
  • Do you have labor dollars going to waste on quiet days and hours? Or do you have customers ready to purchase but not finding the help they need due to understaffing?
  • How do you know how many extra hands to hire during the holidays?
  • How do you know when to staff them to meet the influx of customer demand?

Having foot traffic data shows you exactly how busy every day and hour is at your store, making staffing decisions more effective and less wasteful. Do your future self a favor by gathering accurate data now about when customers visit your store this season!

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Photo by Cathryn Lavery