I remember when I used to quip how ridiculous retailers were about their premature holiday roll outs. Now that I’m nearing my fourth winter season with Pierogi Picnic I hang my head in shame for my previous judgements. Retail is all about pre-planning – especially in the digital realm.
I should have started my holiday prepping over the summer – but how could I possibly tear myself away from the allure of the outdoors to sit inside for business planning?! But it’s not too late to get my approach for this season set and you can too with these four steps:
1) Forecast: What were the best selling items this time last year? I can do a quick scan via my Etsy shop sold orders page to see what items did well for an online audience. Then I will compare those lists to my inventory notes from the various fairs in which I took part. Together I get an idea of where I should focus my efforts and what items I can allow to hibernate until Spring. When I look at last year’s hits there’s a definite trend: coral, skirts, and hair accessories. So guess what I’m going to push this year? Coral, skirts and hair accessories! Though I’ll sprinkle in some trend setting tones like mustard, teal, and cocoa – I know that in the retail world your best bet comes from looking at last year’s sales.
2) Strategize: Etsy does an incredible job giving retail forecasts to sellers via the monthly Merchandising articles. They’ve already rolled out a holiday prep guide which gives great insight into what’s hot and what’s not this holiday season. One of the tips I already implemented was having interactive gifts for buyers. I have a DIY Hair Clip Kit that I was selling last year at fairs and put up a listing for these in my shop this afternoon. These affordable tutorials give the buyer all the supplies they need to make their own hair accessory and teaches them the technique so they can move on to show others how to craft in a green way.
3) Innovate: One of my big goals around the holidays and beyond is to be as sustainable as possible, both ecologically and financially. This means making the most out of the fabric and materials that I already have on hand. Rather than going out and collecting more textiles I can use fabric scraps that accumulate to create new designs. This was my challenge over the weekend and I developed a fun new item using sweater scraps that I had saved from the Cosby Skirts. By cutting and resewing the fun printed fabric I was able to make soft and chic earwarmer headbands that will make great gifts for holiday shoppers.
4) Draft: When it really gets down to the wire will I allow myself to get distracted by the plethora of parties and out-of-state visitors that come to town? Probably. That’s why this year I’m drafting everything in advance – from blog posts, to tweets, to Etsy listings. You have the option of saving blog and Etsy posts and then publishing them with one click. If you’re not already using Hootsuite to manage your Twitter account – sign up now! You can schedule your tweets in advance making your holiday marketing well thought out and self-posting. With all the tools that are available to sellers these days there’s no reason why you can’t sit down for a night and get everything squared away before the madness descends. That way once you become busy in your personal life things are just one button click away from going live and you don’t have to turn down soiree invites or neglect your business. It becomes a win, win situation.
So don’t let the warmer fall days throw you for a loop. Now is the best time to get your inventory, listings, articles, and business plan sorted out so that you can actually enjoy the holidays once they arrive.
Do you have a tool you’re using that’s helping you prep for the busy season? If so, please share it with us in the comments below!