You and your teams have ordered and stocked up on best-selling products months ago, and everyone has bought into the holiday strategy. But just in case you missed anything, we put together a checklist to make sure you and your team are fully equipped to maximize your success on Black Friday.

Have you and your team optimized store layouts?

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

✓ If you offer gift wrapping in your stores, have them keep a clean surface clear. Depending on store layouts, it might make sense to have a separate station for wrapping positioned away from registers 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?

✓ Make sure you and your marketing team add extended holiday hours on your Google My Business profiles and Facebook page(s) so shoppers strategizing via social media and Maps can properly plan their visit. While your teams might have plenty of other important things to do to prepare, incorrectly listed hours can discourage visitors from stopping by. Include driving and parking directions as well, especially if any of your stores are hard to find from the road.

Have you communicated expectations with all your employees?

Keep at least one person at the register and only at the register for a super-quick checkout process. Store managers should one or two high-energy employees up front who can help 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 they won’t be making sales if all they are thinking about is food! Review foot traffic data from previous busy days to plan breaks when staff demand will be less urgent.

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

Have you checked the weather?

✓ You can count on Black Friday bringing in traffic no matter the temperature, but the 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? Encourage your stores to display merchandise outside to bring in potential shoppers who 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.

Set a data debrief with your team after the holidays

✓ While you’re busy working to ensure the organization is prepared for a successful Black Friday, it’s important that you schedule a debrief with your operations team after the holiday sprint to go over ways that the organization could have done better.

✓ The end of the year is often hectic, and meetings can be pushed back into the new year, so scheduling a debrief ahead of time improves the chances of retaining valuable from your operations team while the lessons recently learned are fresh. Keep it short, brief, and straight to the point: Discuss what you did well, what you can improve, and how you are going to do things differently year.

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