For many businesses, the last quarter of the year is the highest revenue generating quarter. Consumers are looking for deals, items they want to put on their Christmas wish list, and shopping for gifts to give.
Make sure your business is prepared for those shoppers by taking the following 7 steps.
1 – Set your goal (to avoid burnout)
For so many years, my goal was to sell as much product as possible during the holidays.
So I ended up accepting any and all special requests and last minute, needed-it-yesterday orders.
Christmas is my favorite time of the year and I ended up working long days to prepare for craft shows, and then fulfill custom orders and ship them out/deliver them. I had no time to enjoy the festive season.
If you start the last quarter with a specific goal (i.e. how much money you want to make), you can work backward and determine how many items you must sell, and thus, how much stock you must make.
Whether you accept custom requests or not is up to you. I personally found they were a drain on my productivity, profits, and energy.
Starting with a goal in mind will ensure you don’t let frantic shoppers steer your ship and instead, make decisions that align with your goal and help you reach it.
>> If you need help setting goals and defining the steps to reach them, check out The Success Planner.
2 – Start early
Holiday shopping starts earlier and earlier each year.
In most cases, your business should be prepared for holiday shoppers at the beginning of October (at the latest).
Which means, you may need to start prep work in August or September.
This ensures you’re ready for the earliest of holiday shoppers, for bloggers and publishers who want to feature your work (and are prepping their holiday content early too), and you’re giving search engines enough time to crawl and recognize your holiday content.
Aside from inventory prep work, don’t forget to order any supplies you might need for the holidays.
- Gift boxes/wrapping/tags
- Shipping boxes and labels
- Shopping bags for craft shows
- Marketing materials to put in each order
3 – Define your policies
Some businesses alter their policies slightly for the holidays. For example, you may want to extend the period in which you’ll accept exchanges, as someone may buy in October but won’t be giving the item to the recipient until December. So a typical 30 day exchange/return policy may deter some sales. An updated policy for the holidays may allow purchases made in Oct/Nov to be returned/exchanged up until Jan 15th or 31st.
It’s also important to clearly define any rules you’re setting in terms of accepting custom orders, shipping deadlines, shipping guarantees, etc. not only for shoppers, but to benefit you as well.
If you want to enjoy the last week before Christmas with your family, stating that December 15th is the last day to place an order and receive it before Christmas will help you stick to your goal of taking time off.
Consider defining your policies in the following areas, and how you will clearly communicate those policies to shoppers/customers:
- Returns on gifts – whether or not you will accept returns or exchanges, the time frame you’ll accept them for, etc.
- Shipping deadlines – when orders must be placed by to ensure an order arrives before Christmas.
- Shipping responsibilities – informing customers that shipping delays are out of your control and that you’re not responsible for lost or late shipments. Perhaps you may offer tracking or parcel insurance for an additional cost.
- Custom orders – if you will or will not be accepting custom orders. When custom orders must be placed by to be completed before Christmas, etc.
4 – Plan promotions
If you’ve priced your products properly (here’s the right way to price products) your profit margins should allow you to run sales and offer discounts.
Take the time now to mark traditional “sale holidays” on your calendar, such as Black Friday, Cyber Monday, Boxing Day, etc.
Determine how much of a discount you will offer, which items a promotion will apply to, how long the promotion will run, etc.
You may also want to organize holiday gift sets. Bundle items together (e.g. a bath-time gift set, a jewelry gift set, a winter accessory gift set, etc.), package them in a festive way, and discount the bundle slightly.
Gift sets are a great way to boost your units and revenue per transaction, and make gift-giving easy for your shoppers.
5 – Schedule marketing
When you get busy selling at craft shows, prepping stock, and shipping orders, it’s easy to let marketing slide.
But you can’t go weeks without marketing and keeping up on your social media platforms. Otherwise you may be dealing with a bigger sales slump than normal after the holidays.
Most social media platforms will allow you to schedule posts; so you can set it and forget it (you should still try to be active on the platform, even when your posts are scheduled).
If you’re unable to schedule social media posts, at the very least, create a content calendar so you have a plan for what you’ll be posting and when. And if you can, get the content prepared (e.g. text written, photos taken, links gathered), so when it is time to post, it can be done quickly and easily.
It’s important to market your holiday products so you not only make as many sales as possible, but also so you’re not left with seasonal stock you can’t sell after Christmas.
>> Here are ways to promote your holiday products: 5 Ways to Market Handmade Holiday Products
6 – Make your sales channels festive
Even if you don’t sell holiday-themed products, you should add a holiday flare to your sales channel(s).
On Etsy, that might be updating your shop’s:
- Banner to a holiday-themed image
- Announcement section to promote your holiday gift sets, stocking stuffers, holiday shipping policies, etc.
- Sections to make it easier to for shoppers to find what they need (e.g. stocking stuffer section, gifts under $50, or gifts for her, etc.)
- Listing photos to add festive touches (e.g. a sprig of evergreen or Christmas decorations in product photos).
In addition to updating the elements shoppers can see, you should also update behind the scene elements to make your shop more search engine friendly, and appeal to the keywords online shoppers are searching.
Update or create listings that incorporate holiday-themed keywords (e.g. “gift for mom”, “stocking stuffer under $20”, etc.) in titles, descriptions, and tags.
At a craft show, you may want to update your display by:
- Using holiday colors for your tablecloth, fixtures, signage, etc.
- Adding Christmas-themed props – Christmas lights, evergreen and pinecones, wrapped gifts, etc.
- Wearing something festive
7- Add sales-boosting options
Channel your ideal customer and think about what they want/need/will appreciate this holiday season.
For example, they may be dealing with inflation and have budget constraints. In which case, the tips in this article will help your business appeal to them during the holidays.
Consider who they have on their shopping list and how you can help them give amazing gifts.
Try bundling items together and packaging them in festive boxes, baskets, or containers, which will make gift giving easy.
>> Here are other ways to boost your revenue during the holidays…without much extra effort: 5 Easy Ways to Boost Holiday Revenue for your Craft Business
I hope these tips help your handmade business have a successful holiday season!
Hey, I’m Erin 🙂 I write about small business and craft show techniques I’ve learned from being a small business owner for almost 2 decades, selling at dozens of craft shows, and earning a diploma in Visual Communication Design. I hope you find my advice helpful!