It’s never too early to think about indoor and outdoor holiday decorating ideas. This year, consider preparing your business for the season with smart technology. We’ve gathered these small-business holiday tips to get you off to a fast start.
Three holiday shopping days matter the most every holiday season. First, Small Business Saturday was created to bring attention to the benefits of patronizing smaller retailers and businesses. It’s scheduled right between the other two better-known shopping days, Black Friday (the day after Thanksgiving) and Cyber Monday (the first Monday after Thanksgiving). Small Business Saturday is another way to boost sales in this critical time.
The National Retail Federation counted 165 million Americans shopping in stores or online during those days in 2018, with 47.4 million shoppers making in-store purchases on Small Business Saturday alone, so it’s important to make the most of that time by coming up with innovative and cost-effective retail holiday ideas.
For retailers, decorating for the holidays is about more than making things pretty. It can play a huge role in developing your retail holiday ideas. Decoration such as lighting draws attention, sells and contributes to the brand experience. Here are some small-business holiday tips for wowing your customers without driving up your electricity bills.
Smart lighting displays are among the most popular outdoor holiday decorating ideas for small businesses. They can help your store stand out and beckon customers to come and explore. Holiday lighting adds to the magic of the season and with an energy that’s new and different. We’re talking serious radiant curb appeal of a lighted storefront that piques the curiosity of potential customers.
For many retailers, electricity ranks in the top three in terms of operating costs, and lighting can account for 50% of that. Additional holiday lighting can drive that cost through the roof. Adopting a smart lighting plan for your indoor and outdoor holiday decorating ideas can directly affect your bottom line. LED outdoor lighting uses 75% less energy, lasts 25 times longer than incandescent lighting and can even be solar-powered to brighten your storefront and lower your power bill.
Smart lighting can spark creativity for indoor holiday decorating ideas and save you money. These systems can cost more up front, but ease of installation and lower maintenance costs even things out. New systems include wireless options, cutting installation complexity and allowing you more flexibility without the limitations of cables. New light technology that uses less energy with longer life translates to big energy savings.
Trim your tree and your budget with smart lighting systems that include timers and motion sensors. They can turn off or dim lights according to customer traffic and store hours, further reducing costs. Because these systems are automated, they are one less thing you need to worry about during your busiest season.
Smart lighting isn’t the only wise consideration during the holiday season. If lighting is accounting for close to 50% of your electricity costs, HVAC might be eating up the other half. Older equipment may not be up to the challenge of keeping your store comfortable when temperatures drop. In warmer climates, a crowded store may mean you need air conditioning in December. Switching to the newest ENERGY STAR®️ equipment is an investment that pays off fast with savings that last.
Smart HVAC systems pair the latest energy-efficient equipment with smart thermostats. Sensors automatically adjust temperatures to optimize customer comfort and energy use. You can override the system with Wi-Fi for wireless control. These systems also provide you with data that can help you identify where you might further trim expenses.
Don’t just think about holiday lights in your windows; think about how you might better insulate them. The cost savings will extend long past the holiday season — it will be Christmas in July when your air conditioning bills are lower. The Empire State Building was able to trim energy costs by 40% by retrofitting every window. Adding energy reflecting transparent film can cut energy use even further. You’ll save money, and your customers will be more comfortable.
Preventing loss is an important small-business holiday tip that sometimes gets lost in the crush. When you are drawing in a crowd, you’re also drawing the attention of thieves. Experts suggest a layered approach that includes smart locks to end the risk of keys gone missing, low-energy cameras and sensors, and good security lighting. Modern loss prevention systems combine energy efficiency with smart technology.
Extended hours during the holiday season translate to increased use of electricity. Determining the best retail hours combined with flexible work schedules can save labor and electricity costs. Don’t be constrained by tradition. If you get more traffic in the late afternoon, consider changing your business hours by opening later and adding evening hours. Your point-of-sale (POS) system can report transactions by the hour so that you can match your schedule to sales.
Don’t just look at the past previous few months, as seasonality is a factor. Compare time periods year over year for a better read. And beyond employee scheduling, consider equipment scheduling: What lights need to stay on all the time? Do you need to blast the heat all night?
Even small businesses can struggle with the complexities of scheduling. Overscheduling can waste labor costs and energy costs. Underscheduling can stress all your systems. Employee morale can suffer at a time when you need them the most.
Scheduling software can help you get the balance right, making it one of the best retail holiday business ideas you can adopt. Once complex and expensive, you now have dozens of affordable, off-the-shelf options for employee scheduling and shift planning software.
Smart speakers are not just for the home. Retailers can add them to their holiday decorating mix. Connect them to your smart lighting to coordinate music and lights. Anything that you can connect to a smart plug is now a thing you can program, schedule and control by voice with your smart speaker. Because you don’t need to do any rewiring, you can have a smart store this holiday season without spending a fortune and eating into your holiday profits.
Getting your store ready for a profitable holiday season takes more than stringing up holiday lights. With smart tech in mind and energy efficiency as a goal, early holiday planning is a gift you give your business that will pay off all year.
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