The holiday season is nearly upon us, very soon you will be busy running your business and trying to maximise your return on your most profitable time of the year.
The key to success is being organised and preparing ahead of time, if you spend a small amount of time writing down your plan and making sure all your staff are up to speed, you can save a lot of headaches in the coming months.
With this in mind we have outlined our thoughts on a successful holiday plan, so grab a coffee and read on…
When to start Christmas?
It sounds simple but when is Christmas? December 25th? December 24th? December 1st?
WRONG! Christmas starts today! The sooner you prepare for Christmas, the more you will achieve, and the more success you will have.
Most high street shops really start to ramp up for the holidays after Halloween (October 31st) this makes sense as you can clear the space used by Halloween products and replace them directly with Christmas. As an online business it is sensible to follow this lead and start to push Christmas after Halloween.
This doesn’t, however, mean leave everything to the 30th of October, in order to have stock available for the 31st you need to have ordered the stock, received it, sorted and stored it.
Do your math
Look at your stats and numbers while you have time to think! Work out what your capacity is and what your staff can handle. If you think you can sell more products than you can ship now is the time to start getting temporary staff trained up – not when you and your staff are stressed out and panicking!
Important numbers to check:
How much stock can you physically store? Look into alternative storage such as lockups, storage centres or units with short leases.
What Capital have you got to invest in stock?
Can you liquidate some assets, speak to the bank about a loan or research alternative finance sources such as Iwoca, Kabbage and Moula.
Have you got enough staff?
Do you need to take on temps? Do any of your existing staff have family or friends that need additional income? Even if you don’t think you need extra staff; take 5 minutes to work out what the cost of an additional pair of hands would be.
Do you know what your best and worse sellers are?
Look at your sales history and just confirm what your best selling items are. Work out what your worst items are and find out what your most & least profitable items are. If you need to make tough decisions about product lines it is better to have this information beforehand and share it with your team.
Try to predict trends…
Look at the wider world and try to work out what products will cause a buzz this holiday season. An example for this year would be the new iPhone 6 and 6 plus. Even if you don’t stock the items themselves are there any tie in products that you can stock such as cases?
It may seem simple and like extra work, but take the time to outline your procedures and plans on paper. Write down you process from start to finish and store it in a folder where all staff have access to it. This makes life a lot easier if you suddenly need to take on staff at a busy period.
It is also useful as a reference for next year when you start the process all over again.
Make sure you are familiar with your product lines, have there been any updates you are unaware of? Have newer models been released or superseded.
Speak to suppliers, try to get better pricing and offers if you buy in bulk. Remember this will be their busiest season too so they may be willing to make a deal to guarantee a sale.
Also be sure to find out what their delivery times are as they may have changed in the run up to Christmas.
Speak to your couriers, find out who your account manager is and learn what price breaks they have for increased shipping. You may be able to lower your costs with your increased shipping – worth it even if it is only for the short term.
Other questions to ask:
- What is the most cost effective service for you
- Can you save money if you used smaller packaging
- Can you do pre-paid returns