Ho Ho Holy Moly It's Time For Holiday Prep
You may be reading this and thinking OMG Kate, this is one step too far. It is only AUGUST. The red cups aren’t even out! Well, if you are in the product business, now is a great time to be putting the finishing touches on your holiday collection (if not a few months ago!).
What’s the hurry, you ask? Well, if you sell your items wholesale, shops are already going to be looking to stock up on holiday goodies. If you are only selling retail (aka directly to the customer) it’s okay if this is the first time you thought about the holidays since...last year.
Getting ready for the holidays requires you to think about several steps, so here are the big categories.
What items are you selling:
First think about the items you would like to sell. Do you really want to do ornaments this year? How many new cards do you need? Do you want to add a new type of product? If so, start looking into where you are going to source this item. Things are going to get backed up quickly as you approach the holidays. The earlier you prepare, the better because you won’t have to pay to rush shipping or be stressed if your vendors have longer wait times.
What are your designs
This is the fun part! Let’s say you want to have five new card designs! Great! What are they going to be?! It can be helpful to look and see if there are any trends that are going to be popular for the holidays. If you sell your items on Etsy, they do a great job of sharing what upcoming trends look like. See what people are pinning on Pinterest! Once you have your design list, start creating!
Now that you have your designs and you have ordered your products, make sure you have the right materials to package your items. For example, last year the place where I get my clear baggies ran out of a certain size, so we had to rethink how our gift tags were going to be packaged. Again, early bird gets the worm in this case. If some items are holiday specific, do you want to have a special kind of packaging that is fun and festive? You may also want to consider gift wrapping options as an add on. If you go this route, it is great to get a little card where you can write gift messages.
Once you have all your items in hand, take a look and see if your shipping supplies need updating. If you have a fragile item, make sure you have packaging that accommodates the extra padding. If you have larger items, you may need a bigger box. Also think about if you want to have festive holiday tape or stickers to make your shipments that much more exciting. We have a special holiday sticker with our dog’s face on it in a Santa hat.
Advertising/getting the word out
Start making a plan to show everyone your holiday collection! Strut your stuff! Share it on all your platforms, create gift guides to share on Pinterest, see if you can get your items in other folks’ gift guides (think influencers, magazines, online publications etc). Get great product pics of your items and post those babies everywhere! Make little Canva pages for your Instagram stories that show off your products. See if you can get pictures of your friends or family using the products. Don’t make people work to imagine it, show them how the product would look amazing in their hands! Last year we set up Christmas in October so that we could get photos! It was festive and silly, but we ended up having awesome pics.
Black Friday weekend deals
Decide now what deals you want to have for Black Friday weekend. Don’t forget Shop Small Saturday, Cyber Monday, and Giving Tuesday. Free shipping is a popular option, but make sure you won’t be losing money if you offer this option. It’s always good to send an email out to your newsletter subscribers with a special deal, since they are your most loyal customers, but Black Friday weekend is the only time that I’ll offer discounts to just anyone who’s shopping. Some other types of deals besides free shipping are adding in freebie items (don’t forget to account for weight in shipping costs), a deep discount like 20% off, BOGO deals, or an entry to win a drawing. On Giving Tuesday, I donate ½ my profits to a local charity.
Cut off dates
This is the date that you set saying that you can no longer guarantee shipment by Christmas. Check the post office and other services’ websites to see what they recommend, and then tack on a few days before that. Last year was a cluster fork and mail was delayed out the wazoo. Customers were mad, retailers were stressed, mail was getting lost--it was a nightmare. In order to avoid this, the best advice I can give is to let people know and remind them CONSTANTLY in as many ways as you can imagine. Put it on a banner on your website, tell people in all your emails you send out, remind them in your stories and in posts. Tell your busybody neighbor. But seriously, any opportunity to remind people of this will help you avoid a lot of trouble. There will probably be people who still order after the date, but then at least you can point to all the places it was listed to cover your bum.
omg this image of Andy will never not crack me up! LOLOLOL
Keeping up with orders
Okay, you have everything in place, now you just sit back and let the orders roll in, right? If only! You’ll want to make sure you have everything in place so you are ready for a major uptick in orders! Now would be a great time to update your label printing system or stock up on all your shipping supplies--you could probably even have time to troll for discounts and deals! Think about asking friends or family if they would be interested and/or willing to help out if things get too busy. Having tasks that are good for people who don’t know the inner workings of your business are key. Whenever my mom is in town, I have her sleeve cards and count inventory. She is an angel on earth. Even if you don’t end up needing their help, it’s nice to know they’re there just in case!
Whew! Are you tired of Christmas already!?!? Well buckle up buttercup! We’ve only just started to deck the halls, now crank up the carols and let’s get to work!
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