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Selling online this Christmas? Be ready for December 7

Tuesday, 27 November 2012 | By Michelle Hammond

Online retailers will experience their highest volume of Christmas sales from December 7-10, according to a new survey, while sales for offline retailers will peak closer to Christmas Day.


The findings come from the Commonwealth Bank, which surveyed more than 1,000 Australian consumers to determine where and when they will spend their money this Christmas.


According to the survey, the average Australian is planning to spend $475 on gifts alone, equating to a total consumer spend of $7.8 billion nationwide.


Overall, Australians are tipped to spend more than $16.2 billion on everything from festive holiday trips to the Boxing Day sales.


Interestingly, consumers are planning to buy the vast majority (70%) of their Christmas gifts at bricks-and-mortar stores, with less than a third of gifts planned to be purchased online.


However, online retailers will see a surge in sales two weeks before their offline counterparts.


For online retailers, the highest volume of sales is expected to occur between Friday, December 7 and Monday, December 10.


Bricks-and-mortar businesses can expect their busiest shopping days between Thursday, December 20 and Saturday, December 22.


For businesses in the hospitality sector, both online and offline, the busiest period will be Friday, December 21 to Sunday, December 23.


As Christmas draws closer, MYOB has outlined some tips to help businesses survive the season.


“The weeks leading up to Christmas may be demanding for shoppers, but they’re even more so for business owners and their staff,” MYOB chief executive Tim Reed says.


“Now is the perfect time to plan for this busy period.”


MYOB’s key tips:


1. Review and learn from last year’s activities


Reed says businesses should start by reviewing their operational performance and financials from last Christmas.


“Some key questions to consider are: did you have enough staff to manage the extra foot traffic? What products and promotions did well?” he says.


“If you don’t have the information around these aspects from last year, consider collecting them this year.”


2. Shout from the rooftops


Promote your unique selling points (most value or choice, best service, longest warranties, local, eco-friendly, etc.) to remind loyal customers and attract potential ones.


Consider adding limited-time discounts or expanding your sales/marketing channels.


3. Boost staffing resources if required


Hiring extra staff can help with the extra volume of customers in the lead-up to Christmas.


The tax-free threshold increase to $18,200 should encourage more part-time workers to return to the workforce as it becomes more financially viable.


4. Prepare your team  


Get your team ready via briefings on all store policies, service and complaint procedures, promotional stock and other important business aspects.


Conduct training sessions to prepare them for the extra volume of customer and supplier interactions.


5. Keep your business house in order


There will likely be an abundance of gift wrapping paper, boxes and/or other packaging in your business as well as more paperwork.


Get organised to reduce administration time and stress levels.