Ever feel overwhelmed by the idea of getting organized before the holiday shopping season picks up? We’ve got you covered with a foolproof checklist to get your shop holiday-ready before temperatures start to drop. We are such planners that we actually we plan out everything down the most minute detail even when it comes to our vacations. So, when we approach the holiday rush for our business, we make planning a priority. Without careful, intentional strategies, the season will either be super stressful for you or it won’t be successful. And no one wants that!
Step One: Make your plan. (Actually, this is Step Zero: Begin before you really begin.)
Here is our holiday planning list to get our shop in tip-top shape and make the most of holiday sales this season:
Forecast your sales and inventory. Having a clear vision of your sales goals is the backbone of planning a successful season. This drives several other decisions down the road. Set an optimistic yet realistic sales goal, taking into consideration that you should always try to aim for an increase over last year (e.g. 5% increase from last year’s sales) and factor in all events and expected revenue streams. Once you have your sales goal, you can stock inventory around it to be sure you can support those sales.
Do some shop housekeeping. Critique your online shop. Are your tags, titles and descriptions up to date? Be sure you are using best practices for SEO so your shop can be found. Check all of your photos to be sure they are current. Your shop photos should not only showcase your product but also be cohesive. Don’t forget to check your shipping rates and lead times.
Make your items (even more) giftable. Do your items come in a gift box or gift packaging? Be sure to let customers know that and show it in the pictures. Think about how different items work together as a gift, and be sure they are shown together in your shop and in your social media posts. Consider taking additional photos in holiday settings if appropriate.
Research new revenue streams. This might be craft or art shows, wholesale accounts or new ecommerce marketplaces. Take care to consider whether you have time to monitor these avenues appropriately or whether they will be too much to juggle this year.
Start driving traffic to your shop. Create a social media strategy and build a calendar to help keep up with posts. Set aside some time each week to plan posts so that it isn’t overwhelming. Think about ways to promote your shop, perhaps a giveaway, a co-branded partnership or even digital advertising. Do what makes sense for your shop.
Get press for your shop. Reach out to bloggers and Instagram influencers to show off your product. Think about your target market and try to find bloggers and influencers who are catering to that market. Be sure to showcase either your most unique item (something shoppers can’t get anywhere else) or your most popular item.
Consider Black Friday and Cyber Monday promos. Etsy, for example, has been pushing sales hard this year and whether you agree with that philosophy or not, you may still want to take advantage of the additional traffic they are driving to shops using promotions if you’re an Etsy seller. You can discount as little as 10% to be included in those sales events. Other options that work well for any platform include offering a free gift with purchase or free shipping.
Build loyalty. You don’t want to spend all your time trying to acquire and sell to new customers only to have them never shop with you again. Be sure you communicate well with your customers in product descriptions, policies and in messaging. Always be professional and follow through on what you say you will do. And don’t forget to build your mailing list! If you have a newsletter, let shoppers know at the holidays – especially at in-person events – and don’t forget to add them and welcome them into the fold.
If you are overwhelmed by the number of things to do before the holidays, start small! Making your way through this checklist week by week will help you get to where you need to be before the holiday rush and it will feel great to be following through on a well thought-out plan rather than putting out fires like crazy up until the end of 2018. If you don’t make it through the whole list this time, pat yourself on the back for trying and aim to start sooner next year. Good luck!
This article was written by Jenny and Sabrina, co-presidents of Etsy Dallas and owners of The Pig and the Peacock. Both work full time in addition to running their online shop and the Etsy Dallas team which hosts two large maker markets in Dallas, Texas, each year. They know the importance of careful planning. Check out the upcoming Etsy Dallas Jingle Bash on November 10 if you’re in Dallas for a peek into the premiere handmade shopping event put on by their all-volunteer organization.