It’s the most wonderful time of the year already???

Yes it’s true
we are just three short weeks out from the unofficial start of the holiday
shopping season, Black Friday. As expected the trend of advance Black Friday
sales has continued into this year with mega retailer Amazon starting their
holiday shopping event Countdown to Black Friday on November 1st and
running for a whopping 52 days! So as Amazon goes so does the rest of the
retail world but what does this push to an even earlier holiday shopping season
mean to you as an independent retailer? For starters it means that traditional
bump in sales that you have come to expect on Black Friday will be spread out
both before and after the big day so if you have not started prepping get
started.

  • Load your pipeline– What we mean by this is to start
    getting your merchandise in now. Remember it takes 5 to 10 business days to
    receive your order not to mention the few days it takes to process your order. Don’t
    forget to keep the pipeline filled until the end of the holiday shopping season
    don’t lose out on sales because your running low on inventory.
  • Evaluate your current merchandise– So you’re looking over your existing
    stock and wondering what to do to get it out the door, you want to make room
    for new stuff and some of it may have been collecting some dust for a while. Here
    is a suggestion; group your merchandise by priority: low, medium, high and
    create a plan of action.
    Low priority items Maybe you picked
    up some winter coats back in June and now we are coming into peak demand
    season. No reason to discount these or lose margin yet by adding these into a
    store sale you have months to sell these add these to low priority.
    Medium priority items would be end
    of last season items or items older than 60 days consider creating a sale or
    revise pricing in this case a reduced margin is better than carrying the
    inventory over into the next year.
    High priority items should be aging
    inventory 90 days or older or holiday specific items. The dust collectors; mark
    them down, create a sale and or offer free shipping to move them out. Holiday
    specific items can be a bit tricky, there is a very small window of demand for
    those xmas sweaters and holiday stockings; keep a careful eye on sales if by
    the second week of December you are sitting on inventory mark it down and move
    it out.
  • Tools
    are essential
    – Are you stocked up on all of your essentials? Packing materials,
    packing tape, printer labels? Running out of supplies in the middle of the
    season can cost you big. If you can’t
    ship because you’re out of padded envelopes you can rack up some severe penalties
    from sites like Amazon or eBay for late shipments. It’s also a good time to
    start thinking about upgrading some of that essential hardware like your
    computer, printer or digital camera. Again
    it’s about being prepared, if that printer is on its last legs or that camera
    is just not up to your standards now is a good time to invest in upgrades and
    get that tax deduction for tax season; sadly that’s coming too!
  • Monitor
    your inventory and the market
    – Monitoring your prices and the markets in which
    you sell is essential for maximizing sales and profits. Don’t get caught up in
    the battle for the buy button on Amazon too early, remember Amazon has put in
    restrictions on new sellers so in theory the battle should be less fierce than
    in previous years. Now because of these Amazon restrictions the opposite may be
    the case, on other sites like eBay; new Amazon refugee sellers are popping up
    on eBay so be careful not to lose sales because of undercutting.
  • Manage your time– Are
    you building some time into your normal daily schedule to deal with the
    increased demand? If not do so. Maybe set aside some time in the morning and at
    night to handle the essentials, in the morning handle the
    packing on the slow days do some listings and in the evening review your sales,
    make price adjustments and post some new items. The key is to create a schedule
    that you can stick to, discipline is an essential key to success.

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