5 Things to Do in October to Prep for the Holiday Selling Season
The 2018 holiday selling and shipping season will be here before you know it. With it, comes the possibility of an increase in customers and, in turn, an increase in sales.
According to eMarketer, holiday sales are predicted to grow by 15.3 percent this year. Savvy online retailers have already started preparing their business for the influx of potential orders. The good news is that it’s not too late to make sure you’re business is ready to take advantage of the gift giving season.
Some tasks—like launching your holiday-themed paid ad campaigns—can wait until November for execution. Others, need a bit more lead time to fully develop and implement. Understandably, it can feel overwhelming to figure out what to focus on and when.
Read on to learn more.
To help, here are five tasks you should do now (in October) to prepare for the end of the year sales. Plus, let this serve as inspiration with some lesser-known holiday selling and shipping strategies to boost sales.
1. Pitch to Gift Guides
Unfortunately, we tend to forget about gift guides until they’re already starting to publish in our favorite magazines. By that point, it’s too late to be included. If you’re hoping to land a spot in holiday gift guides, you’ll need to start now, as most go live in November.
Start researching and reaching out to relevant brands assembling holiday gift recommendations and explain why your products are relevant and interesting to their target audiences. Include lifestyle and product images plus brief product details with your succinct pitches.
Have some extra inventory set aside for gift guides, since many editors require a product sample for consideration.
2. Hire & Train Seasonal Workers
Don’t wait until you’re in a pinch to find temporary help. Put out the call for holiday workers now. Once you have your additional team members on board, be sure to devote time to training and education so they can deliver top-notch customer service during the hectic holidays.
It’s a good idea to develop an onboarding packet, so you can quickly get new team members up to speed without having to do hours of in-person training. This also helps ensure that everyone is on the same page and can jump in to help with critical tasks if an issue arises, even if it wasn’t in their job description.
You can consider both part-time and full-time assistance, depending on your team’s needs. Who knows… you may find your next long-term hire!
3. Manage Your Inventory
You’ll want to order holiday inventory ASAP. Once it arrives, it’s a good idea to enter those new items into your inventory management system now so that all items are accurately stocked and tracked across various points of sale. If you’re an omnichannel seller, make sure your inventory is accurately tracked across all of your different selling platforms (like eBay, Amazon, etc.), too.
Once the sales start ramping up, there won’t be time to organize and input inventory. The more you can do in advance to prepare, the easier it will be for you and your team during the busy season.
4. Launch Business Automations
If you want to work smarter (not harder) this holiday season, you’ll probably want to launch a few business automations that remove some of the legwork from your operations. Business automations are critical if you want to scale and grow your business, since they can make it just as easy to attract, complete, and fulfill one order as it is for hundreds.
Examples of business automations include shipping software, automated order tracking via email, etc. Make sure these automations seamlessly integrate with your e-commerce stack, such as your website platform, payment gateway, etc., to save you time, money, and a whole lot of stress.
5. Have a Contingency Plan
Have a contingency plan around what you’ll do if major issues arise, so you can quickly resolve problems and keep moving. Consider what you’ll do if your website crashes or you run out of inventory, for example.
Of course, we hope none of these things happen, and proper planning will help to ensure that most crises are avoided. But, in the unfortunate case that something does go awry, a detailed, contingency plan will help your team remain calm and focused on solving the matter at hand.
Bonus Tip: Prepare for Disasters
Develop a strategy for disasters and share it with your team so that everyone is on the same page about what to do if things go wrong.
The team at shipping software company Shippo put together a detailed checklist for each month leading up to and through the holiday selling season, so e-commerce businesses can feel confident they’re ready for whatever comes their way. Download the complete holiday selling checklist, including tasks for November and December.
The holiday selling season can be stressful, but it doesn’t have to be. With the right preparation and planning, you’ll be able to jump into the holidays head first with peace of mind that you’re ready for whatever comes your way. We sincerely hope you sleigh your holiday selling season!