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

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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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