We know it seems like winter is miles away, but the holidays will be upon us before you know it. That means it’s time to get your preparations underway as early as this month!
The summertime is the perfect season to get a headstart on all of your holiday planning to ensure your Q4 sales go smoothly and uninterrupted. For many merchants, it’s a quieter period as consumers flock to the outdoors to enjoy the sunshine, and are often enjoying events rather than shopping online. You can use this to your advantage to get your planning done, coordinate with suppliers, and more.
On that note, here are 5 things that we recommend every merchant start doing today.
5 Ways to prepare for the holiday season in eCommerce
1) Reflect on previous holiday demand to create your plan of attack
Take a look at your historic demand and pay attention to where most of your buyers were concentrated, and how they found you.
Some of the things to ask yourself include:
- What channels did our customers find us on last year? What about the years before? Can we replicate what we did to get the most success?
- What regions were our customers concentrated in? How do we ensure fast delivery to those areas? How can we get inventory centrally located to our best buyers?
- Did we sell out at any point in the previous years? How can we ensure we have enough inventory stocked this year to prevent the same thing from happening?
2) Allocate inventory to different fulfillment networks
We’re big on building redundancy into all of your eCommerce processes, but during the holiday rush your supply chain and fulfillment are some of the most critical to keep things running.
Relying on a single fulfillment network like FBA or your own in-house delivery team just isn’t enough anymore. In order to meet demand, and to stay on top of any unexpected roadblocks, you need to have multiple ways to deliver orders.
For example, many Deliverr merchants on FBA have created FBM backups to their listings. That means whenever their FBA inventory runs out, their buyers can still purchase items via their FBM listings.
Similarly, many merchants who are used to handling their own fulfillment in-house have started using Deliverr to ensure their inventory is distributed across the USA to get to their buyers faster. This gives them the additional benefit of being able to outsource fast fulfillment, while still having their own fulfillment centers as a backup.
3) Get your orders to suppliers and manufacturers in
We recommend getting as much inventory into your warehouses or fulfillment networks as possible, as early as possible, especially for your best sellers. To do this, you need to give your suppliers and manufacturers a heads up as early as now!
As soon as sales start picking up in Q4, merchants who didn’t plan ahead will flood manufacturers and suppliers with additional purchase orders to keep up with demand. This often results in higher costs and slower delivery times.
To avoid this trap, use some projections from previous years to put in your orders as soon as possible. With the global supply chain in the state it is, just recovering from the shock of 2020, it’s never too early to get your inventory into the country and ready to sell.
4) Start building your marketing materials and content
It can take a while to get your holiday deals ironed out and approved. Then it takes time to create all the content around them to promote it.
If you can determine what your brand will be offering for the holidays, it’s a great idea to start building out those marketing materials now.
For example, you might need:
- Website banners
- Email newsletters
- Video promotions
- Short clips for ads
- Social media ads
- Google ads
- Additional photos for your product listings
And all of those will need to go live once your deals do, which means you won’t have time to create them all last minute.
5) Start your partnership negotiations
Do you want to offer holiday bundles with another brand? Or maybe you want to put on an online holiday bazaar in conjunction with products that complement yours. Perhaps you can even do a cross-deal where if someone buys a partner product, they get a certain percentage off of your store as well (and vice versa). All of these are great sales strategies that can amplify your sales and build your customer base.
However, it also takes a lot of planning, prep work, and organization to execute those partnerships well. You want to bring your A+ buyer experience to the entire process, whether you’re doing a simple gift basket promo or a full-on sales event with multiple partners.
That means you need to start negotiating as early as today. For example:
- How will each partner promote the sale or event? Will there be a minimum requirement of emails, social media posts, and website banners?
- How will you track the sales? Will you use coupon codes, or will you have a system in place that can track customers who are logged into an account?
- Are you all responsible for your own accounting, or will there be one entity in charge of it all? Many bazaars opt to have one check-out experience and then distribute the funds later.
Wrapping up – Prepare for the holidays today to ensure smooth sales
The holidays will be here soon, and are likely to bring yet another record-breaking season for many in eCommerce. It’s important to be prepared for that when it comes to your planning and forecasting, supply of inventory, fulfillment options, marketing materials, and partnerships.
In short, it’s never too early to start getting ready for your busy season. The earlier you start, the more you can enjoy smooth sailing.