What are you giving (your customers) for Christmas?

Do you have your strategy planned for what to give your customers this holiday season?

Will you offer free shipping?  Free returns?  Buy one get one? Percentages? Are there some special products you are going to bundle or offer at a discount? Perhaps you have an item you want to promote on Black Friday or Cyber Monday?

The time to think about your best offers is not mid-October. Start now.

Think about what policies or offers (if any) you are going to provide for the entire holiday season. If free shipping is your thing and you know you’re going to run with it for 60 days, plan for it now. Be prepared to feature it in every promotion and every email template and show it prominently on your site. If a gift registry is on your radar - then start setting up the program now, so that your customers can build their wish lists in September and let their family and friends know where to shop for them before the holiday rush begins.

Next, decide your best short-term offers and think about where they fit in the calendar. Don't put a great product on sale October 1 and deplete your inventory levels if that is the product which will bring shoppers to your website or store on one of the biggest shopping days of the year. Plan your calendar so that you're in a position to offer the best values when customers are ready to shop til they drop.  Yes, you will face more competition for offers those days. But shoppers are in prime buying mode and they are looking at your competition. You don’t want them to pass you by.

Preparing your holiday offering early also allows you to forecast for inventory and staffing. It’s also going to reduce the urge to jump and come up with an incentive on the fly when you see what you’re competition is pitching. Plan now. Know your value and your margins, so that you don't over-discount on impulse. Be confident and get your holiday gift to your customers prepared early, so you can sit back and enjoy their visits to your business in November and December.