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How to Prepare for the Fourth Quarter Slaughter

So summer is over and the holidays are quickly approaching. How are you going to prepare for the busiest shopping season of the year? In the past, you and your staff see the holidays as one of the busiest times of the year. Each time finding out what you could have done different and how things for the next year can improve. With sales projected to be up 4.1 percent to $616.9 billion compared to last year, it is vital for companies to evaluate how to prepare for the upcoming season and take necessary steps to ensure a profitable fourth quarter.

Related: Surviving Fourth Quarter Madness -- How to Handle the Year-End Sales Crunch

1. Prepare your promotion and marketing schedule in advance.

It is essential for businesses to prepare their promotion and marketing schedules in advance to ensure they do not miss key opportunities to sell. At the beginning of the year, come up with a marketing plan with specific dates and ideas. This will allow you and your staff to prepare key marketing materials with plenty of time for changes and revisions.

2.  Forecast demands and inventory.

Sometimes, it is difficult to predict sales with the economy constantly changing, but by using past sales analytics and doing some research, most businesses are able to project sales fairly accurately. Make sure to have your most popular products in full stock when the busy seasons come your way.

Related: The Holidays Are Coming: 4 Ways Startups Can Meet 

3. Get your staff ready.

The holidays can be a stressful time for all those working in the retail space, but you can lighten the load by preparing your staff for what is to come. Talk to them about what is expected, prepare them for sales, shipping, and fulfillment. Lastly, bring on extra helpers if the work load is just too much for your current staff to handle. This will ensure your customers and staff are taken care of which will ultimately produce more sales.

4.  Differentiate yourself.

The most important part of preparing for the busy season is differentiating yourself. Everyone is looking to get some big slice of sales pie but not everyone will be successful around the holidays. Make sure you stand out!

For instance, to prepare for Cyber Monday, we offer a huge sale on all our products, up to 50 percent off. When all the sales are done on Monday, we extend our promotion to Tuesday picking up all the late comer consumers. Hold off on sales in the month of November and hit your customers with promotions come December. After the holiday season is over, leave them alone: You do not want to become a nuisance. Ultimately be bold. Be different.

Related: 5 Ways to Winterize Your Business