Show of hands - how many of you are prepared for the holiday season?
Okay, we can’t see your hands, but the sentiment is the same: if you’re not prepping for the holidays right now, you’re going to be behind.
"But it's only the middle of July!", you say. "How could we possibly be behind when it’s barely summertime?"
Your competition is thinking the same thing. They’re kicking back, enjoying the break before the craziness of the fall and winter. So you need to be two steps ahead. Setting up for the holidays in the middle of the summer might seem a little crazy, but trust us, it’s going to save you a whole lot of pain when you’ve got orders for products coming out your ears and you don’t have the time to think about the details.
We use this suggestion a lot, but it’s really one of the best pieces of advice we have for people who want to take as much planning and guesswork off their hands as possible. Make a content calendar! Doesn’t matter if it’s an excel file or a fancy Google calendar, as long as it works for you. Here are the types of things you might put on your calendar:
- Social posts
- Charitable acts
- Important days (like Black Friday)
Now take a step back and look at your calendar. We like filling ours out as much as possible, but make sure you leave yourself some wiggle room for last minute trends that you’ll want to jump on. Now that you’ve gotten the “when” planned, you can start filling in the details. For example, go ahead and make your coupon codes in advance. All you’ll have to do is enable them on your Volusion store when the time is right, and you won’t have to rush around trying to find the code because it’ll be written on your content calendar!
So you’ve got your major events planned out and you’ve made your coupon codes; now you can start filling in the details on your content calendar. Plan out your blogs, social media posts, and newsletters as much as possible. Build up your sales to get people excited, feature your popular products so people buy them before they sell out, and get as much attention on your brand as possible. Don’t forget to leave room for silly photos and trends!
Besides your marketing calendar, you should use your down time to make sure you have plenty of inventory (as long as you have products that don’t expire). Did you run out of anything last year? Double check you’ll have plenty of it this year. Did the warehouse where you source products run out of something in December? Get your order in early to avoid the rush.
Think about the dates you’ll need to look out for this holiday season. We’ve compiled a few lists for you to use:
2016 “Send By” or “Mail By” Dates (for snail mail)
- Halloween - October 17th
- Thanksgiving - November 10th
- Hanukkah - December 10th
- Christmas - December 9th
- Boxing Day - December 12th
- Kwanzaa - December 12th
- New Years - December 16th
2016 Important Winter Dates
- Halloween - October 31st
- This is when you can snag early bird shoppers and let your customers know you’ll start sending more holiday newsletters. Be sure to remind them the value of these newsletters, like flash sales or product discounts!
- Veteran’s Day - November 11th
- This federal holiday is on a Friday this year, so tons of stores are going to have weekend sales honoring vets - make sure you get in on the action.
- Thanksgiving - November 24th
- A lot of customers are starting to have a negative reaction to stores that are open or have sales on Thanksgiving. Make sure you write your social media followers a Happy Thanksgiving note to show your personal side!
- Black Friday - November 25th
- Competition for shopper’s attention is fierce, so make sure you stand out from the crowd.
- Small Business Saturday - November 26th
- Do you have a local brick & mortar? On this day, people are encouraged to shop small and keep it local - offer your in-store customers a discount on their purchases.
- Cyber Monday - November 28th
- This is probably the biggest day for ecommerce sites, and it falls pretty early this year. It’s not even in December! Plans your sales accordingly, because there will be more time for people to make last-minute purchases throughout December if they miss this online shopping holiday.
- Free Shipping Day - December 18th
- This “holiday” always falls on the last day you can guarantee delivery of a customer’s purchase - but you’ll notice that the 18th is a Sunday this year. Get a leg up on the competition by celebrating early!
- Hanukkah - December 24th
- Conversely, Hanukkah falls closer to Christmas this year, which means you’ll be able to plan your sales around both holidays!
- Christmas - December 25th
- Happens once a year.
- Kwanzaa - December 26th
- This holiday also happens closer to Christmas than usual, which makes promotions and sales that much easier to plan.
- New Year’s Eve
- Close out 2016 in style with a celebration! If you sell party supplies, build up to the new year during the last week in December.
- New Year’s Day
- Typically used for self-reflection, this is a great day for promoting new beginnings. This is also a great time to reflect on your successes and difficulties during the holiday season!
Down time might seem detrimental to a store owner, but it’s the best time for you to start building up for the busiest shopping season of the year. Doing the work now will make the craziness of the shopping season much more bearable!
Got some tips for preparing for the upcoming holiday season? Share with us in the comments!