It’s that time of the year when smart eCommerce business owners have to start planning and preparing for the holiday season. Whilst November and December will likely be good months for your business regardless of what you do, smart entrepreneurs know how to maximize the opportunity and turn a good Q4 into a great one.
Preparing your business for the holidays should be an annual occurrence and the good news is, the more holidays you get through, the more you learn and the better you get at it. With that said we have put together 5 tips to help you prepare your business for the holidays in 2022.
#1 Plan Inventory Early
The most important tip when preparing your eCommerce business for the holiday season is to get your inventory in order as early as possible. Nothing else will matter if you run out of your best-selling products before the holidays are over.
Our advice would be to look at your previous years’ trading history and try to predict looking at growth rates what you would realistically expect to sell for the whole holiday period. Once you have a good idea of what you would expect the stock levels to be, then is the time you speak to your suppliers and start planning for your stock deliveries to reach you allowing plenty of time for restocking and listing if necessary.
One thing to bear in mind is that there is a high chance that your suppliers have multiple clients so competition can be fierce for the hot products in the run-up to the holiday season. With that being said communication is always key and having a good relationship with your suppliers can set you apart from their other clients.
Now is the perfect time to start if you haven’t already when it comes to opening communication with your product suppliers and letting them know a rough idea of the volumes you will be anticipating over the next few months.
#2 Get Smart With Holiday-Related Search Terms
The next tip is something that many sellers totally overlook when it comes to the holiday season. If you are running paid ad campaigns either on your website or on the marketplace platforms then doing your research into holiday-related keywords can be a huge advantage.
One consideration is to be very mindful of budgets and bid allocation as campaigns can very quickly get out of control at this time of year. Terms like “gifts for mom”, “gifts for dad” etc can all be added to your campaigns which normally would not be there to help drive the Christmas shopper visibility.
One bonus plan can be to take your existing products and bundle together related items to create special holiday season SKUs. This can have the added benefit of selling more products but also increasing cart spend on a per order basis. So keeping your holiday-related search terms in ad campaigns up to date and creating bundle products are both great tactics to give your Q4 a boost.
#3 Communicate With Your Customers
This one may sound obvious to seasoned eCommerce sellers but when the sales start rolling in and the distractions are high in the business, one of the first things to fall by the wayside is communication. A few years ago a mixture of extreme weather and backlogs in the postal network led to huge delays over the holiday period.
The most important thing for your business if history repeats itself is to manage your customer’s expectations, or to use the old adage, under-promise, and over-deliver. With that being said doing things like updating your website with banners and notifications of any shipping delays can let potential customers know in advance.
As well as website banners, it can also be a wise move to add your latest shipping information into your order confirmation emails that get automatically sent to your customers. Essentially, any way you can communicate to your sellers including social media channels should be used for updating the state of your business over the holiday season and expected delivery times. This can go a long way in avoiding negative feedback on review sites and marketplaces.
It is also important that you keep yourself up to date with the ongoing service level disruptions with your chosen delivery service. Whether it be USPS, UPS, FedEx, or another provider, most will have a web page that is updated with any disruptions across the country. Failing that it would be wise to get in touch with your courier contact and see if you can be added to a mailing list that updates on shipping timeframes and delays.
#4 Don’t Neglect Last Minute Shoppers
There has been a trend over the last few years which has seen holiday season shopping starting earlier and earlier every year. Black Friday used to just be the day after Thanksgiving, and last year Amazon ran their Black Friday sales for a full 2 weeks before Thanksgiving.
On top of that, there have been rumors of Amazon running a second Prime Day in October this year which if it turns out to be true, will absolutely kick start the feeling of holiday season shopping earlier than ever before.
With that being said it is super easy to totally neglect the last-minute shoppers who wait until the middle of December before completing their holiday season shopping. This correlates strongly to the first tip around planning inventory. If you sell out of your best sellers by the end of November, you are leaving a lot of money on the table for those customers who are looking to shop into December.
The flip side is, that a lot of your competition might not be thinking into December which can mean if they fail to plan properly and sell out of products early, it leaves the door wide open for you to maximize sales throughout December.
#5 Don’t Forget About January!
This is probably the one that most businesses totally neglect. January for many businesses is crazy busy but not necessarily for the reasons that they want. One side effect of higher sales is of course higher returns which means you need to make sure your processes and staff are prepared for an increased number of returns.
Also having flexible return policies in place can be a big difference for customers when making their buying decisions. Extending return policies past the holiday season can be a nice way to build trust with buyers.
Another consideration is what are you going to do with any items that get returned to you. Having a process already in place for selling used or refurbished products is a smart way to still make some money whilst reducing stock levels in January to make way for new lines as you head into 2023. Having a good plan for January can save a lot of time and energy trying to react when the time comes.
Maximizing Holiday Season Sales For Your eCommerce Business
Like I said at the beginning of this post, the holiday season is where most businesses make their most profit for the year. This means that many will still make money even if they just fly by the seat of their pants and spend a few months putting out fires and reacting to what is going on around them.
The difference between those businesses and the ones who take the time to plan and prepare properly for Q4 is huge. By implementing a few if not all of the above tips you will surely experience a more smooth, less stressful, and hopefully much more profitable holiday season in your eCommerce business.
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