10% Off Coupon Code at the Bottom of This Post!
Is it really that time again? As summer draws to a close, it’s time to start planning for the upcoming holiday season.
Calling all artists, crafters, Jack and Jill-of-all-trades who run their own handmade businesses to put out that campfire, pack your van, head home and … START PREPPING for the HOLIDAY SEASON now!
In this post, I’ll discuss some essential tips to help you prepare for the rush and get started early this year so you can reap all the rewards without breaking a sweat.
- Stock up on products
- Order supplies early
- Streamline shipping
- Stick to what you know
- Know when to say when
With 20 percent of your annual sales potentially coming from this time of year, failing to properly prepare for the holiday rush could cost you big time.
Remember: The holidays officially start in November on Black Friday and last through December. Which means, you should have your products ready to go by November 1st. This way you leave yourself time for photography, description writing and listing of your new offerings.
Stock up on products
Trust me, you don’t want to scramble at the last minute for made-to-order items during the holidays.
So, get started early by making your most popular items.
Look at your sales from the previous year and determine which items you sold the most of and start making those now – even if they’re by default custom items like rings. You can stock up in a standard size 6 and re-size when they sell.
This will save you LOADS of time and headache.
Order supplies early
We can’t emphasize enough the importance of this one. Running out of supplies could be the most frustrating experience especially when you have orders to fill with a deadline.
Just like you, your suppliers are also experiencing higher sales volume at this time and could potentially be low on stock on some items that are essential to your fabrication process.
This is a nightmare scenario. You can’t fill your orders because you can’t get needed supplies. You could potentially lose your customer and risk receiving bad feedback.
Luckily, you can avoid it all by simply ordering your supplies early.
And don’t forget about the ‘other’ supplies like packing materials, marketing materials that you include with your packages, gift wrapping materials (if you offer this service), business cards, company letterhead for invoicing and etc. Make your list now.
If you can’t afford to buy all of these supplies at once then make a list and write down the shipping times of your suppliers. Order from the supplier that takes the longest to ship first and when you have a little more funds, go to the second supplier on your list and so on.
** News Flash ** You can now fill out and print customs forms online for international shipping through the USPS website. No excuse to not ship overseas anymore!
If you ship by USPS, you can print labels online.
If you use PayPal, you can make and print USPS shipping labels through PayPal.
You can even fill out customs forms online now (something that was unavailable before) on the USPS website so you can ship internationally from the comfort of your home without having to make a trip to your local post office.
It’s a good idea to alternate shipping days with making days so you can focus on the task at hand.
Stick to what you know
Coming up with new designs is a must for any seller but experimentation should be limited during this time of year.
If you use up your resources on a new item, it may be devastating when this item doesn’t do well. Pick out your best sellers from previous years and stick to stocking up on those.
You could update your best sellers by offering a new colorway. If you’re a jeweler, doing this is easy – use a new gemstone for your design and it’s almost like you have a brand new product. Or offer the same piece in gold, silver, or blackened silver and voilà, you now have three products instead of one.
Know when to say when
Burn out is a big issue for anyone running their own small business.
You are doing everything from fabricating, to packing, to shipping, to getting back to emails, to accounting, to sourcing etc. There comes a point when you know you physically can’t do anymore.
Stop and take a break. Leave the studio, step outside, meet other people. Spend a day doing something completely unrelated. You need this.
You will also need to set a deadline for shipping and state the date clearly in your shop announcement.
For example, if you normally ship by First Class Mail (ETA 5 days), you should allow 12 days for arrival due to high volumes of mail during this time of year. So, pick a deadline like December 12th as the last day for which purchases can be made.
Make sure to tell your customers who’ve purchased after this date that their purchases may not make it on time for Christmas to avoid disappointment.
Good luck – May this be your BEST season ever!
COUPON CODE: “holiday2012”
OTHER GREAT RESOURCES:
This is a great article from Inc.com from November 2010 specifically catering to Etsy sellers and the holidays:
(images via zenbends.com)