Happy Holidays! That’s right, the holiday season is quickly approaching, and you know what that means: stress, debt, and headaches.

But if you’re a small a small business owner, especially a retailer, you know it means more than that. What it’s really about is bracing for a rush of store traffic — enough to generate a significant percentage of your annual sales in just five-weeks! So, with the Season quickly approaching, let’s talk about how you can use point of sale data to boost sales and bring in enough holiday cheer (read: cha-ching) to last you through the New Year.

Forecast A Trend

If you are using a cloud-based POS system, you should be able to easily take a look at your year-to-date sales volume and compare this to last year. Take a look at how you are trending. It’s important to establish a baseline for the current year’s performance compared to last. If your sales are trending down faster than the Santa Express, do you expect this to continue? Likewise, if your sales are up 20 percent, determine if this trend will continue. Establishing a baseline forecast will help you and your staff understand your goals for the holiday season.

Review Last Year’s Sales

Now that you have a baseline forecast take some time to analyze last year’s holiday season sales and revenue. Create a baseline forecast by applying the same yearly trend you’re experiencing this year to last year’s sales. For example, let’s assume sales this year are up 20 percent compared to the same time last year. Based on this data, you should assume that your holiday sales for this year will be at least 20 percent greater than your holiday sales from last year. Creating a proper forecast is important for knowing the amount of inventory you’ll need and the staff you’ll need to sell it.

Understand Your Top Selling Items

Now that you have a good forecast, it’s time to dig a bit deeper and analyze the data that can help you determine the best strategy for maximizing your holiday sales. Most POS systems will allow you to quickly pull reports that show your top selling items from the previous year, as well as your sales by department. Analyzing this data will help you understand and make an educated guess on how much inventory to order — and of what — this year. Are you selling some of the same items? Have they been selling more or less this year? What was the department sales mix like last year? Do you expect the mix to be similar this year? By understanding and forecasting accurately you can order enough inventory to take advantage of any quantity discounts your distributors offer, ensuring you have enough stock to meet the holiday and bustle.

Prepare For Peak Days and Hours

Take a look at last year’s holiday sales by hour and day.If last year’s reports show a consistently high number of sales at the end of any given day, it’s worth testing the extension of business hours to meet the increased demand of those hours during the holiday season. Forecasting your staffing needs is also critical and should be based on this year’s holiday forecast. Hiring the needed staff to meet your expected traffic increase, will allow you to capture sales and deliver a holly jolly customer experience. An important statistic to track during peak periods is your transactions and revenue per hour. You can increase both significantly by deploying mobile POS systems (mPOS) to help line-bust when your store is busy.

Maximize Employee Productivity

Have you ever taken the time to determine who’s your most valuable employee? With a POS system, you can track sales by employee and analyze who is the best elf in your workshop. A creative way to increase sales this season is to hold a contest to reward those employees generating the most revenue or profits. Provide short-term or long-term incentives and reward employees at the end of each shift or week. Your employees will appreciate the extra cash while their hard work will allow you to maximize profits. If you prefer a team-oriented approach, set daily or weekly benchmarks that reward all employees when business hits the forecasted revenue numbers.

Know Your Top Customers And What They Buy

Using an iPad POS system will allow you to capture customer information at the register allowing you to build a comprehensive database of returning customers. Your POS is a great resource for understanding who your top customers are and what they buy. Identifying your most loyal customers and sending them a reward or a holiday gift to thank them for their business, keeps them engaged and incentivizes them to return to your store. Offering special sales ahead of the holiday season can help you get a jump-start on creating demand. Another option is to look at customers based on the specific item they purchased during last year’s holidays season. If you have the same or similar items, try sending an email highlighting specific products that you think they might be interested in this year, to encourage them to shop at your store.

Prepare Your Holiday Marketing Plans Now

Dreaming of a Christmas cash cow? Get started on your marketing plan. Begin by strategizing ways to increase potential customers this holiday season. Train your staff to collect customer email addresses at the point of sale and email receipts to your customers. To encourage customers to provide their emails, select a POS system that allows for customized receipts and place a coupon at the bottom of the receipt that can be applied on their next visit. Then, instead of asking whether or not a customer would like their receipt sent to them, try asking if they would like to receive a coupon via email. This is the time to take advantage of the increase in customer traffic. Figure out an offer that can increase repeat customer visits, while also driving sales.

Brian Zang

About the Author

Brian is a Sales and Marketing leader with substantial experience launching new products. He specializing in scaling teams in high growth environments and is focused on developing sales and marketing professionals that perform at the highest level.