The number one shopping season of the year is upon us, and it’s a good time to be in ecommerce—with holiday spending expected to rise 5 percent this year, with 53 percent of consumers expected to shop digitally. To ensure your business is primed and ready for the retail rush, we’ve put together an easy checklist to make sure you’re prepared. Whether this is your first time selling or you’re a seasoned pro, there’s always a way to grow. Even if you think it’s too late and you should place your bets on next year, think again. Our checklist can even help you make the most of this holiday season.
Have You Looked at Last Year’s Data?
Examine last year’s sales data to set your course for this holiday season. Take note of what products sold best, what strategies you employed in one marketplace that you could try on other channels, and maybe even what your competitors did. Did adjusting the price of your stale inventory increase sales and help clear your warehouse? Margins mean nothing if something does sell. Where does shipping become too costly to convert shoppers to purchase? Could you move more volume if you sell something as a set or in multiples? Play around with your data to see what worked well and what new ideas might create meaningful results.
Are You Thinking Outside the Black Friday Box?
As a marketplace merchant, focusing all your energy on major holidays like Black Friday, and Cyber Monday may leave you disappointed. Don’t neglect these holidays, of course, but consider leaving your biggest promotions and discounts for smaller holidays like Free Shipping Day (which occurs in mid-December) or Green Monday (the second Monday in December). Super Saturday (the last Saturday before Christmas), is also a good choice for last-minute shoppers as well as last-minute retailers. You can find even more off-beat holidays you here in case you missed some of the bigger ones already.
Are You Ready for Post-Christmas Sales?
It’s not enough to make sure you have enough stock for your Christmas inventory; you must also be sure are prepared for post-Christmas sales as well. Don’t stop at analyzing last year’s December sales to complete your Christmas orders. Dig deeper and look at what performed well in January and February of last year to ensure you will have success in Q1 as well. Hint: After analyzing last year’s data to see what performed well, gauge interest in specific items by looking to social media and seeing how many people are still talking about the item. And if you did fail to stock enough inventory of that hot item? Be sure to have related items on stand-by to let customers know about an alternative product that might work for them.
Are You Choosing the Right Trending Items?
From detox teas to fake eyelashes, knowing which items are trending items to choose from is important. Detox Tea was popular, but saw huge backlash on social media for it’s negative effects. In addition to looking at social media to find out which products you should invest in, also check out Google Trends to see how many searches are being made on a product.
Are You Regularly Checking Your Listings?
During the mad rush of the holiday season, it’s critical that you check your Amazon, eBay, Tophatter, or other marketplace listings regularly and make sure they’re up-to-date and that the essential information a consumer needs to know is clearly displayed and succinct. Remember that buyers are likely looking for gifts around this time, so refresh any copy to be compelling and reflect that what you’re selling would look great in wrapping paper or in a stocking. If you’re a merchant on Amazon, use the Listings Quality and Suppressed Listings Report to inform you of any errors on your listings and the Category Listing Report to get an exported version of your catalog’s product data. (You need to contact Amazon Seller Central support to unlock the Category Listing Report, but it’s worth it.)
Have You Opted Into Sponsored Products or Promoted Listings?
If you’re an Amazon merchant, you can opt into Amazon’s advertisement program — Sponsored Products — which allows you to bid for specific keywords that puts your ad in front of a shopper if they search for that word or phrase. Impressions are free, but you’ll be charged when a shopper clicks on your ad and visits your product page. eBay has a similar program — Promoted Listings — except you’re only charged if a customer clicks on your ad and buys your product within 30 days.
Have You Opted Into Bonus Credits? On Tophatter, a shopping marketplace where buyers get to bid on items they’re interested in purchasing, you can optimize your sales this holiday season by incentivizing shoppers with credits — giving the winner of the auction up to two percent of the final auction price back in Tophatter credits, allowing you to drive higher sales prices and improve your sell rate by up to nine percent!
Even if you’ve neglected your list all year, the holidays are a perfect time to rekindle your relationship and remind buyers that they can skip the long lines at the mall this year; you have just what they need, a few clicks away.
Erica Garza is an author and essayist from Los Angeles. Her writing has appeared in TIME, Health, Glamour, Good Housekeeping, Women's Health, and VICE