Last year, holiday retail sales climbed 3.6%. This year, sales are expected to grow even faster over the same period, climbing as much as 4.5% to eclipse $1 trillion.
Small business owners need to be prepared for the influx of holiday shoppers if they wish to enjoy the biggest slice of this trillion-dollar pie. Otherwise, they may generate less revenue than they hope for—leaving even bigger slices on the table for their competitors.
The good news is that it is still several weeks before the start of the holiday season—which means that forward-thinking business owners still have time to make the appropriate investments and develop the right plans to earn as much as they can before the year comes to a close.
Unfortunately, not every small business is blessed with an endless amount of cash on hand. In fact, a new study found that 41% of small businesses have run into cash flow problems.
Without money in the bank, it’s extremely difficult—if not altogether impossible—for small businesses to make the proper preparations needed to ensure they haul in as much revenue as they possibly can this holiday season.
If your small business finds itself in this undesirable predicament, all hope is not lost. If you need a little extra cash to prepare for the holiday rush, it’s worth your while to look into applying for retail loans.
With a retail loan secured, you can immediately put your money to work and get ready to provide great service to even more customers. Here are five ways you can use retail loans to prepare for the holiday season:
Invest in new technology
Are old machines and technologies slowing your staff down? Put your loan to use by investing in new retail solutions that make work easier for everyone.
For example, you can invest in a payment processing service like Poynt, Square, or Stripe. Not only do these services make it incredibly easy for your customers to pay you in a number of different ways, but they are also location-agnostic, meaning you can sell to your customers in your physical retail store or when you’re at markets or in other mobile environments.
Hire and train new staff
You can’t expect your current staff to be able to accommodate many more customers at once and continue providing a great level of service. As anyone who’s ever worked in retail will tell you, dealing with irate customers who are in a rush during the holiday season is not the most pleasant thing in the world, to say the least. And when you’re short-staffed, it’s completely unbearable.
To make sure your employees are able to weather the holiday rush, use your retail loan to hire and train temporary workers. Target, for example, recently announced it was increasing holiday seasonal staffing levels by 40% to accommodate the end-of-the-year surge. You may not have to hire that many more workers. But adding a little bit of headcount can go a long way toward ensuring employees stay happy and motivated during the busiest time of the year.
Expand your marketing initiatives
Customers won’t necessarily flock into your retail location to buy gifts just because it’s the holiday season. By making smart marketing investments, however, you can increase the chances that more customers choose you over your competitors.
A retail loan—which, when secured from a non-bank lender, can essentially be any amount you want, up to $1 million—provides the extra cash you need to strengthen your marketing outreach during the end of the year.
A few cleverly designed ads in the local newspaper, for example, can really drive sales.
Purchase more inventory
You won’t be able to sell items to your customers if you don’t have them in stock in the first place.
Use a retail loan to boost your inventory levels so that you have enough products on hand to meet higher demand. The last thing you want is to be unable to meet customer needs and watch as they leave your store and head to your rival’s.
Run holiday promotions
A retail loan can also help you attract new customers who are looking for the best deals during the holiday season.
With a little extra money on hand, you can bankroll buy-one/get-one deals or deep discounts to convert shoppers into first-time customers. The hope here is that they will continue to support your business long after this year’s holiday season has wrapped up.
To learn more about how a small business loan can take your company to the next level, check out our ebook, A Beginner’s Guide to Loans for Small Businesses.