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It’s Christmas time! Get your business ready for peak selling season with these top tips for retailers

Christmas is just around the corner. And while we like to grumble about supermarkets already displaying their festive merchandise (c’mon, it’s just turned spring!), it's a great reminder that business owners should be preparing for the retail boom.

For many businesses, this quarter is hugely important for the bottom line, but it also comes with a lot of disruptions, so it’s important to have a comprehensive plan in place. Here are our five tips to ensure your silly season is a success.

Make the most of your marketing campaigns and promotions

Christmas is typically peak selling season for many retailers. In 2018, Aussies spent $25 billion on travel, gifts, decorations and donations during the Christmas season. It’s critical your marketing activities are on point. 

There are a lot of significant holidays coming up - Melbourne Cup, Queen’s Birthday, Christmas, Boxing Day, New Year’s Eve, Black Friday, Cyber Monday. It’s important that you make the most of these opportunities with targeted marketing campaigns and promotions. If you have a blog, could you create any Christmas-themed content, like a gift guide? If you have a newsletter, why not send an e-Christmas card to your customers? Social media? Don’t forget to wish your customers a happy new year. And if you’re running any Christmas campaigns or promotions, make sure to communicate this to your customers across all channels. Christmas is a great time to connect with your community.

Make sure to also inform your customers of your Christmas opening hours. If you’re extending your trading hours during the busy season, it’s obviously important to let your customers know! But equally important is letting them know when you’re not open - nothing creates bad feelings between a retailer and a customer faster than the panic that sets in as you approach the ‘closed’ sign during a frantic last-minute pressie shopping trip. 

Need help with your Christmas marketing campaigns? Get in touch with BlueRock’s Brand & Acquisition team. 

Manage your cash flow with comprehensive cash flow forecasting

Christmas is expensive. For consumers, but also for businesses. Think marketing expenses, extra stock, extended operating hours, extra casual employees. Then there are the Christmas parties, employee bonuses and Christmas store closures to think about. Christmas is great for sales, but it’s also a time of disruption, which can have an impact on your cash flow. For retailers, it’s also common to see that influx of money sitting in the bank and make less-than-wise decisions without considering the long-term. 

If you sell B2B, you’ll also probably notice your debtors increasing as retailers stock up for the season. But until those retailers can sell that stock, your debtor days will increase too, which can hurt your cash flow. 

Ensure you’re conducting effective cash flow forecasting during this period so you can predict how much will come in and how much will go out. It’s not too late to check in with your accounting team to ensure you’re making the right cash flow decisions during the Christmas period. 

Get your website ready for shoppers

If your business has a website (and we hope it does!), consider any site updates you’ll need to make. Do you need a new landing page for any campaigns you’re running? If you sell online, do you need to create any new Christmas categories? Does your eCommerce store provide a great user experience that makes shopping easy? Keep in mind that last year, 25% of Australians used their mobiles to purchase online. It’s really important that your website, and checkout process, works just as well on mobile as it does on desktop.

It’s also important to get your website ready for a surge in traffic. According to a study conducted by Australia Post, the five weeks from 11 November to 15 December accounted for almost 15% of all eCommerce transactions in 2018. Traffic spikes can result in slow speeds and website crashes. Frustrated customers won’t stick around for long (and there goes the sale). Don't let a poorly performing website get in the way of this huge eCommerce opportunity. If you need help getting your website Christmas-ready, BlueRock Digital can help.

Tis the season to be hiring: unwrapping your legal obligations

While Santa may be able to get around the world in one night, we know that you may need some extra helping hands during this busy season. If you’re thinking of hiring Christmas casuals to assist your business, we recommend a review of your employment contracts, registered agreements or modern awards to ensure you stay on the ‘nice list’. Adding the word “Christmas” to a casual classification does not change your legal obligations – it just makes the role sound more festive!  

A casual employee is someone who typically works irregular hours and has no guarantee as to the days (or hours) that they will work. Because of this, each occasion a casual employee is engaged by your business is a separate contract of employment. So, unless notice is required by a registered agreement, award or the employment contract, employment can end without notice. If this is likely to put you in a bind during the busy Christmas period, you may consider incorporating a notice period into your employment contract.

A casual employee also has a different minimum wage entitlement to a full-time or part-time employee. Most notably, casual employees get a higher rate of pay known as a ‘casual loading’ because they don’t get other benefits, such as paid sick leave or annual leave. It is important to make sure that you are paying your casual employee correctly under the registered agreement or award otherwise a lump of coal is not all you are in for this Christmas. To comply with your legal obligations, you must know which award applies to your casual employees, what their classification is under that award and what is their minimum rate of pay (including rate differences depending on their start and end times, weekend or public holiday work).

Need help preparing employment contracts for your Christmas casuals or understanding an award (even which one applies to your business) – BlueRock Law are always happy to have a chat

Make sure your inventory is in order

Making sure you’re sufficiently stocked during the peak selling season is critical. A good way to check this is to look into the data. How much did you sell last year? What were the popular items? How long did they take to ship? With this kind of insight, you can ensure you’re well-prepared. 

At BlueRock, we’re big fans of automated cloud-based inventory platform DEAR Systems. It not only gives you the insight you need to make informed decisions year-on-year, but it also gives you maximum visibility of your inventory status in real-time and is fully integrated with your eCommerce store, if you have one. 

Get in touch with BlueRock Digital for a chat about preparing your inventory management systems for Christmas. 

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The origin of the BlueRock name is a mash-up of the founders two favourite things.
Through a mutual love of the Carlton football team and Dwayne 'The Rock' Johnson, a firm was born!