Next steps for holiday season planning [Updated for 2021]
After Black Friday/Cyber Monday, people outside of the retail industry might assume there is a bit of a lull before Christmas spending really ramps up. But most of us in the industry, and particularly in eCommerce, know that that is really not the case – it is much more accurate to say that Black Friday is usually just the trigger for people to start their Christmas spending.
We wrote our Black Friday post with much more detail about planning ahead, so if you haven’t taken that post in, then it is well worth a look there for more information. We’ve written most of this post to serve as a reminder, since we know most Avasam users are professional sellers, whether they have a purely DropShipping business, or one that combines holding stock with DropShipping activity to supplement their inventory.
Christmas eCommerce statistics
Just in case you weren’t already sure that the holiday shopping period is the most wonderful time of the year for the retail and eCommerce sector, here is a quick look at some incredible statistics to make it clear!
- In 2019, online sales through the festive season grew by 8% to $723 billion globally UK retail sales in the 2019 holiday shopping season were close to £100 billion ($133.32 billion)
- Over 30% of customers started their search for Christmas gifts on Amazon
- 2019 was the worst year ever for high street retail, decreasing by 0.1%
- More than half of all orders in the UK in 2019 took place via a mobile device
With these stats in mind, let’s take a look at what you need to do before the Christmas rush really gets under way.
‘Tis the season to get ahead
By now, you’re pretty likely to already be rushed off your feet – and if you’re not, then it is likely that you’re going to be before too long. Research has shown that customers start their Christmas shopping as early as August, and with tools like Amazon Wishlists, there are many customers who will have written their ‘letters to Santa’ in this way! For many customers, they will already have made some, if not all of the decisions about what they want to buy – they just need to find the products they want at the right prices.
We spoke about some of these points to help you plan ahead in our Black Friday planning post, so if you took note of those then you’re likely to already be on the case – but if not, then take action quickly and get these points done as a priority.
Schedule your campaigns
The key to a successful Christmas campaign is to get ahead by planning ahead as much as you possibly can. Create your email marketing campaigns in advance and have them scheduled and ready to send, so you can forget about setting up new emails until the new year.
In a similar vein, get your social media posts put together and scheduled on your social media management tool, so that the only thing you need to do is reply to the direct messages (DMs) and comments from your followers. If you’re lost for inspiration when planning your social media posts, have a look back through previous months. It is pretty likely that you will have made some great posts that you can easily add graphics to, or edit to look more seasonal. Where there are certain products that you want to promote, then create your posts around those, make them shoppable, and if you have created gift guides, then definitely schedule posts that encourage people to click through and find out more.
While you’re at it, if you’re using paid ads to help convert customers, get those scheduled too. You need the most possible returns from those paid ad campaigns, so whether you’re paying for ads on social media, on marketplaces or on search engines, getting them done and readied in advance. Doing so will help you to ensure you get the best rates, and that you don’t forget them in amongst everything else you have to do.
Manage your product listings
Overselling can be a major issue on marketplaces at this time of year, when there are lots of customers that are trying to buy trending products. That’s going to be even more of an issue this year with the supply chain issues that are going on, and is why we recommend automating the connection between your listings and the feeds from your suppliers, as well as any of your own inventory – it means that your listings will be updated and can be deactivated when your supplier is out of stock. As you are probably already aware, if you regularly oversell on marketplaces, your seller account ends up being penalised – so it is well worth taking the steps to avoid it.
Schedule time to keep your products updated, and to regularly source new products to keep customers interested and heading back to your store. If you’re using a DropShipping platform, that will be easy enough to do, and you’ll need less than an hour to look at the products that are available and to add them to your inventory.
Keep your warehouse operations safe
If you’re operating from a warehouse location, then you’re probably already doing so in a secure way to keep your team as safe as possible. Those reminders of the need to wear a mask are tedious, but essential to keep your business operational – you don’t want to have to delay or cancel orders because your team have had to self-isolate.
In addition to COVID related risks, there is all the usual health and safety stuff to keep in mind too. While health and safety is paramount all year round, during the busy quarter four it is even more essential to keep walkways clear of rubbish, stray packing material and so on. You don’t want team members to be injured due to an avoidable slip, trip or fall, and the rest of the team having to work even harder because someone is off work due to a broken limb or other injury as a result of being in the workplace.
Planning for a happy new year
You might not be thinking about January in the slightest yet, but there are a few things that you can do to get a head-start on your post-Christmas work (and we’re not talking about new year gym and diet!) and to build on what has hopefully been a successful golden quarter.
Keep an eye on your reports is absolutely essential to your success throughout the holiday period. Seeing an increase in your profits will help to keep you and your team motivated, but more importantly, it will help you to identify any problems that could impact your profits too. If there is a sudden drop-off in sales of one of your best sellers on a certain platform, this might be because there is an issue with the listing, pricing or even your seller account on that sales channel. Over the course of a few days, those missing sales could start to put a massive dent in your profits, so it is essential to stay vigilant.
By staying on top of your reporting through the next few weeks, you’ll also make it easier for yourself to understand the sort of financial position your business will be in when it is time to do your accounts.
Add your business to a review website
If you haven’t already, get your business listed on a review website such as Trustpilot, Reevoo or Feefo. You’re probably already aware of how much customers rely on rely on reviews on marketplaces – because really, who doesn’t check the reviews before clicking add to cart these days? But if you’re looking to build your brand and get customers and social media followers to your website, rather than buying from you via Amazon, then having your business on a review website will help to increase trust. Once you’re signed up for the review website, don’t forget to update packing slips and emails to invite your customers to leave reviews for you on that platform, as well as on your listings.
We could keep handing out the advice of things that could benefit your business, but right now, it is time for action. The thing that will help you the most through the busiest time of the year is to get ahead where you can, so things run as smoothly as possible. Get your social media and email campaigns created and streamlined, and any ad spend that you have planned set up and ready, as well as ensuring that your inventory is optimised as far as possible.
If you find you need an additional inventory source for your business, or you find that you need to diversify further in the new year, get in touch. It isn’t too late to add products from Avasam to your sales channels and make additional profit with minimal effort through the Christmas period – we can help you to be up and running within just a day or two. book a call with our team, or sign up for your free account to take a look at what Avasam has to offer.
We hope you have the best Christmas trading season yet, and we look forward to helping you diversify your business and to making the most of 2022.