Start preparing for the holidays: Your small business to-do list

3 minute read

The holiday season is fast approaching, and there’s no time like the present! If you haven’t already begun to prepare, it’s time to start.

We’ve compiled a holiday checklist of 7 action items to help you get ready – whether you’re just starting or in the midst of holiday preparations, these essentials will help ensure you’re on the right track.

1. Determine your promotional strategies

Your holiday promotional strategy will be key to your success. Some questions to consider that will help you shape your strategy might include:

  • What will your message be?
  • How will you integrate your marketing and/or selling channels?
  • What discounts can you offer?
  • Who will you target and how will you measure your success?

Think about timing, too. More Canadians are starting their holiday shopping earlier in the season – as early October. These early birds represent an important sales opportunity that can help you win the season.

2. Assess the online customer experience of your website

Look for ways to improve the online customer experience

  • Does your site tell your story in a compelling way?
  • Does it inherently demonstrate what sets you apart from your competitors?
  • Do your visuals look professional (even if you do them yourself)?
  • Are your products well organized and listed in a way that’s easy to navigate?
  • Do your pages load quickly?

If pages don’t load quickly, look for ways to reduce the file size of your images.

3. Evaluate your ecommerce operations

Ecommerce holiday spending is predicted to remain high this season, following what we’ve seen the last couple of years. It’s essential to ensure your order management and fulfillment processes can keep up with any spike in demand. Look for ways to make time-saving improvements. For instance, are your shipping labels integrated into your ecommerce platform? Is it worthwhile to schedule Canada Post pickups so you don’t have to go to the post office? Do you have enough volume to warrant a thermal printer?

Optimizing your operations can also be as simple as putting your most popular items closest to your packing area and ensuring your packaging supplies are well organized.

4. Get your inventory ready and stock up on supplies

Don’t give customers a reason to seek out or shop with your competitors. Make sure you have enough inventory to cover orders. For popular items, consider increasing your usual on-hand stock. Top sellers are likely to see increased purchase activity over the holidays and are likely to sell in the new year if you’re left with a surplus. If you do run out, ensure your website accurately reflects stock to avoid negative customer reactions or reviews.


Don’t wait to stock up on office and packaging supplies! As a Solutions for Small Business customer, you’ll receive a discount at the Canada Post online store.

For more advice on optimizing your ecommerce operations, read our blog.

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5. Ensure your website communication is clear

Before they buy from you, customers want to know you’re trustworthy – and they look at your website for clues. Ask yourself:

  • Do you give your customers information about shipping times?
    71% of shoppers are influenced to shop with one retailer over another when provided with a delivery date.1 You may not be able to provide precise shipping details upfront but try to give customers a window. If your store needs time to handcraft or customize items, make sure you clearly let customers know how long it takes.
  • Do you state your holiday cut-off times?
    As we get closer to December, customers will want to know the last day they can order from you and be guaranteed their item arrives on time. Make this information prominent.
  • Is your return policy clear and easy to find?
    You can also give your customers’ peace of mind about returns by extending your returns window past the holiday season, into January or even February.

If you want more tips on holiday returns, read our holiday returns blog.

6. Maximize delivery and pickup options

Online shoppers are always upping their game. They know more stores are offering more options when it comes to pickup and delivery, so do what you can to meet their expectations.

If you have a physical store, consider offering curbside pickup, or click and collect, and try to offer local delivery options in your community. On your checkout page, you may want to enable faster delivery options for customers who will pay extra for speed.

7. Stay flexible

As we all know, the holiday season can be unpredictable. It’s important to stay nimble and be ready to adjust as needed. Those who can, will be in the best position to hit the ground running in the new year.

1 Phase 5. Canadian Online Shopper Study, May 2022.

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See how to maximize your marketing strategy, both through the holidays and into the new year.

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