5 Tips to Prepare Your Online Store for the Holiday Season 2012

5 Tips to Prepare Your Online Store for the Holiday Season 2012

November 20th, 2012

Whether you sell part-time, full-time or somewhere in-between, the holiday selling season is one of the most important selling seasons of the year! Not only do the holidays represent the biggest shopping season of the year, they also give you a great opportunity to attract a wide variety of new customers to your online store; customers who can potentially become loyal, repeat buyers throughout the year.

And while holidays sales figures will vary for every online seller, there’s no doubt that being well-prepared for a robust holiday selling season will have a huge impact on your sales! In this post, you’ll learn five powerful tips to help you prepare your online shop for your best holiday selling season ever!

Now before we dive into our tips, I want to set the stage by giving you a different mindset about when the holidays really take place. And I guarantee that after you’ve read this next paragraph, you’ll never look at holiday selling season the same way again!

When Are the Real Holidays?

Most of the time when you hear people talk about the “holiday season”; they’re referring to the bulk of the shopping that happens in November and December. While it is true that this is a peak sales time, if you only consider November-December as the holiday season, you’re missing out on several other holiday selling opportunities along the way.

Because running from August through the end of January you have the opportunity to capitalize on these different shopping holidays:
• Back to school shopping
• Halloween
• Thanksgiving
• Gift giving season (Christmas, Hanukah, Kwanza etc.)
• Post-gift giving trade in/trade up purchases (Late December – January)
• Gift certificate redemption season (Late December – January)
• New Years
• New Years Resolutions (January)

Now that you can clearly see why the holiday selling season is not just a short period from November to December, let’s get busy preparing for those holiday sales!

1. Expand your Current Product Lines for the Holidays. One of the best ways to sell the products that holiday shoppers want is to evaluate your current sales and ramp up on some of your customer favorites.

To do this, ask yourself the following questions:
• Who are my customers?
• What are they currently buying?
• What is selling well now?
• What’s new, up, and coming in my most popular product lines?
• What complimentary products can I bring into my store?

By looking at what’s already selling well in your store and bringing in updated or holiday versions, you have the advantage of selling customer favorites with a new twist.

Here are a few examples:
• Do you sell hand tools year around? Contact your supplier and see if they offer any holiday gift sets. Or better yet, bundle your own exclusive set!
• Do you sell bedding and bath supplies? Find out what prints are new for the holidays! Seasonal merchandise can be a great addition to your product line.
• Specialize in selling maternity bathing suits during the summer? Bring in some fresh new maternity holiday dresses and pajamas for the winter.

2. Place Orders Before Your Suppliers Run Out of the Hot Selling Products! Don’t wait to place your orders for those perfect holiday products! Keep in mind that many retailers both online and off started placing their holiday buys back in January. Once you’ve identified what products you want to bring in for the holidays, call your suppliers immediately. Otherwise you’ll find that the top-selling products are already out of stock.

3. Offer Products at an Assortment of Price Points. One of the biggest mistakes that online retailers make is trying to wedge their customers into a one-sized fits all price range. During the holidays more than any other time of the year, shoppers have price elasticity; meaning they’ll spend more or less on a product than they would normally spend throughout the year.

Don’t restrict your product sourcing to only merchandise within a certain price range. For example, you know that your most popular products fall into the $75 – $125 price range; by bringing in some higher priced items your customers can upgrade a purchase for the gift buying season. Lower priced products will appeal to those holiday shoppers on a budget. During the holidays, you always want to think about selection!

4. Create “Top Lists” for Your Customers. Holiday buyers are busy and they don’t have time to comb through your entire store or website looking for that perfect gift for Aunt Mae or Uncle Mike. Online retailers who “pre-shop” by creating Top Lists or Favorite Lists, report year-after-year that creating these lists are one of the biggest determining factors in increased sales.

A Top List would look something like this:
• Top 10 Gifts for the Dad Who Has Everything
• The 10 Scariest Decorations for Halloween
• 10 Hot Selling Holiday Toys like that hand crafted wooden playhouse
• 5 Products to Help You Stay Organized All Year

By pre-shopping for your customers and presenting them with the best of the best, you’re not only offering great products, but providing fantastic service by showcasing products they’ll love!

5. List Your Holiday Products Early. Each year, online shoppers start their holiday shopping earlier and earlier. With as many as 49% of online shoppers reporting that they begin their holiday shopping in September, not listing your holiday merchandise in your online shop means you’ll miss those early-bird sales!

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  1. Good point about product elasticity. Coming up to Christmas people are definitely willing to spend more or less than usual, for this reason I think it’s great to add discounts and offer gift wrapping services to increase profits. I can do this easily with my ecommerce software. Fantastic tip about top lists, I think this is a great way for busy and stressed out holiday shoppers to find things easily and in the meantime enjoy the ease of the online shopping process of your site, likely to return.

    Comment by Sarah — December 7, 2012 @ 5:46 am

  2. Very valuable information here! It’s extremely important to get all your ordering and coordinating activities out of the way well before the onset of the holiday rush. After you get those out of the way, it’s then time to focus on getting orders out and taking care of customers. Check out our newest blog that offers some great tips for handling the rush and capitalizing on it by attracting new customers: http://www.dropshipcritic.com/6/post/2012/12/handling-the-holiday-rush.html

    Comment by John J. — December 17, 2012 @ 5:41 pm

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