One of the most important things you need to do during the pre-holiday season is prepare all your systems to handle the holiday rush. Remember: even an hour of down time during the holiday rush can be devastating for you.
In many industries, for example the toy industries or costumes industries, the holiday season could consist of as much as 30% to 60% of the annual revenues. If your website goes down or if your merchant account starts declining orders, by the time you fix it you could easily cost yourself 10% of your annual revenues.
Your systems must be absolutely rock solid going into the holiday season. You have to have redundancies and backup plans for every conceivable failure. Here are some of the most important things you need to do to prepare your systems.
==> Fulfillment Systems
Your fulfillment center should have more than enough inventory stocked. If you use an off-site fulfillment center that you don’t own, make sure to talk to the fulfillment center about the kind of demand you’re expecting.
Talk to all your suppliers about turnaround times in case of unexpected orders. What happens if you over-sell an item? How quickly can you be restocked?
Work out dropshipping agreements in case you can’t restock and have to ship products to someone’s house directly.
==> Merchant Accounts and Payment Processing
Call your merchant account and talk about the volume of business you’re expecting. It’s not unusual for a business that’s been doing under $20,000 the previous month to suddenly do $100,000 or more in just a few days during the holiday season.
If you don’t talk to your payment processors, this kind of activity can look very suspicious. Make sure you explain the seasonal nature of your business to the payment processing company and let them know to expect a sudden rise in volume. This is especially important for young companies.
You should always have at least one or two backup merchant accounts. If anything happens to your primary account, you can switch to your backup in your payment gateway and be up and running in minutes.
==> Website Considerations
Are you on a shared server or a VPS server? If so, there’s a decent chance your server could crash – especially if others have websites on the server getting high traffic. Even if you don’t crash the server, high traffic can slow things to a crawl.
If you’re expecting high holiday traffic, you should have at least one dedicated server, plus one backup. Set your DNS up on a DNS forwarder so you can switch DNS to point to a different server instantly if your main server goes down.
These are some of the most important preparations you should make to ensure that your business and your infrastructure don’t go down during the crucial holiday season.