Top Tips to Prepare Your Online Store for the Holiday Season
The next few months can either make it or break it for many eCommerce businesses. This is the holiday season… And this is the time to make the most profits for the majority of online retailers selling consumer goods. As the “Year-over-year growth of Christmas holiday retail sales in the United States from 2000 to 2018” study by the National Retail Federation suggests, holiday sales were growing on average by 5% each year since the 2008 crisis:
The stakes are high; and those who are prepared best will make the most out of this opportunity. Is your online store ready for the race? If you are confused and don’t know where to start, proper prior planning is the answer. You can’t go into this time of year and expect to hit a home run without it.
On a high-level your Holiday Plan should include determining how much money you want to make during the holiday season and how you are going to get there. To successfully act on your plan and reach your goal you need to:
- know what you are going to sell;
- make sure you will have enough inventory of those products;
- get ready to deliver the best customer service you have ever offered.
Let’s break down all of these in more detail.
Setting a Dollar Amount Goal
Having a dollar amount that you’d like to make is a great place to start. This keeps you accountable and can keep you motivated. You need to keep this in a spreadsheet and break it down into weekly and daily goals. This makes it much more attainable.
Betting on the Bestsellers
You need to identify a number of items that you think may be hot for the holiday season and are worth putting an extra marketing dollar to promote (increase shopping listing bids, advertise on social and etc.). For a newbie, it is difficult to predict what will sell best with 100% confidence but there’s usually a group of items that brings the most revenue and profit during the season. However, if you choose too few of those, you risk making a wrong guess and will end up merely breaking even.
Inventory Planning and Timely Sourcing
Once you decided on the items that will be your headliners during the holiday season sale, the next step is to make sure you will be able to maintain sufficient inventory levels throughout the sale. One problem for most online stores who sell products from dropshipping companies is that suppliers are often out of stock on bestselling items when you need them most. You may try to search for other dropship suppliers of similar products to secure multiples fulfillment sources or, what’s even better, buy select products in bulk beforehand. When it comes to having a long holiday season, having the inventory is the key.
Double Your Efforts on Customer Service
During the holiday shopping season problems are to be expected. It happens every year – the product is sent on time and the package is properly labeled, but for some reason it didn’t make it to the right person. Shipping companies are busy during this time of year, so you can also expect delays. Some customers may get upset, but you can’t let this affect you. Stay positive, and your mantra should be:
“The customer is always right. Always”.
Providing excellent customer service will not only bring you happy customers and positive feedback, but you will also get repeat business. [ If you are doing customer service yourself or don’t have enough manpower, think of increasing your capacities for the season with outsourcing and automating customer support with technology tools. With large sales volumes things may get out of control and the last thing you want is cancellations and negative feedback from customers who didn’t get enough attention.
Having a holiday plan for your ecommerce business will keep you organized and focused. This time of year can get really busy, but make sure you are taking time to enjoy it with your family. Don’t get so wrapped up that you forget what this time of year is all about. Staying productive during your “work hours” is very important, and will allow you to have plenty of time for fun. What’s your plan? Share with us in the comment section below.