How long have you been gearing up for Holiday 2017? From sourcing inventory to staffing up, from creating effective listings to marketing them, from communicating with buyers to shipping their orders, it can seem like the whole year builds to your busiest couple months.
By now, you’ve got your eyes on the Holiday finish line, and you’re focused on the best way to get your business there. Cross that December 25 finish line strong—and with a good plan— and your sales don’t have go down just because the Christmas lights have.
When your listings are optimized for today’s consumer, they’re more likely to entice shoppers to click and buy what you’re selling, all year long.
Now, as we enter the "late-Holiday" season, see how the right inventory and pricing plan can help you put a bow on an awesome 2017 Holiday, power yourself into the new year, then keep the momentum going!
Step 1: December 12 - 24. Capture last-minute shoppers.
According to the National Retail Federation, by this time last year, over half of Americans still had not completed their holiday shopping.
While the 2017 Thanksgiving Weekend beat industry expectations for online sales, we know buyers are still searching for just-right gifts and home decor at competitive prices, and the NRF says that the majority of last-minute shoppers make those purchases online.
How can you capitalize right now?
You know where your inventory stands. If all your listings are selling equally well, congratulations.
Otherwise, now’s the time to identify what’s selling slowest and offer the promotions that will get your merchandise moving. A smaller price reduction in select areas now may save you from being massively overstocked once Holiday ends.
As merchandising and inventory management consultant Ted Hurlbut observes:
“When sales are soft, the weakest of your items or categories will usually suffer disproportionately... Mark them down as soon as you identify them. A 25% markdown, for instance, taken immediately will accelerate their rate of sale and get you out of that inventory. If you wait until clearance time, when everything is marked down, it may take 50% to 75% to clear the inventory.”
Use Promotions Manager now to offer the BOGOs, markdowns, shipping discounts, and coupons that can motivate last-minute gift-seekers.
One of the biggest factors influencing last-minute shoppers’ gift purchases is whether it will end up under their tree in time.
To be able to tell them just that, check out the carriers' shipping deadlines for delivery by December 25. Using that info, you can determine an order cutoff that works for your business.
Add a note to your item descriptions telling buyers exactly when their last chance to order is. You can use the Listings tab in Seller Hub to edit up to 500 listings at once.
For instance, a seller with one-day handling time and shipping with USPS Priority Mail might say something like: “HOLIDAY SHOPPERS: This item ships with USPS Priority Mail (Santa’s elves were all booked!). If you’re expecting to receive this by December 25, be sure to order by 5:00pm December 19.”
And if your listings are backed by eBay Guaranteed Delivery, rest easy; your buyers already know their gifts will be there in three days or less—guaranteed.
Step 2: December 26 - January 5. Clear out with year-end and new-year clearances.
Before you can turn over a new leaf in the new year, you’ve got to take stock of what you’re carrying with you.
Unless your inventory is highly seasonal (more on that soon), you’re likely going to want clear out a lot of your merchandise before you get too far into the new year. Luckily, shoppers have been trained to look for awesome post-holiday deals that can help you do just that.
At this point on the retail calendar, it helps to think: what would a brick-and-mortar store be doing?
Once December 26 hits, big-box retailers and department stores put huge percentages of their merchandise on Year End Clearance. Then, when January 1 rolls around, the merchandise that’s left is marked down with a new New Year’s promotion.
Promotions Manager lets you do the same. If you’re sitting on lots of items from the same category, consider offering BOGOs to move merchandise, faster. Use markdowns on other soft-selling items or share codeless coupons with your followers on social media. Evaluate how your promotions perform, then reconfigure them for the New Year.
Once you’ve got your promotions set up, you’ve got to let the world know.
Brick-and-mortar retailers send out their circulars, then once you get in the store, you can’t help but see the giant CLEARANCE signs over what is usually the most hectic corner.
Promoted listings is like that, but better. By placing your listings in prominent locations across eBay, it can lift your listing’s visibility by up to 30%. Using promoted listings is risk free, too; you only pay when a buyer clicks your ad and purchases the item within 30 days.
And it’s a lot neater than the clearance section at the average department store.
Step 3: January 1 and onward. Tap in to seasonality.
People don’t stop buying on December 25.
Think of all the eBay gift cards given as holiday gifts. Think of all the purchases made in the spirit of New Year’s resolutions. Think of the collectible-seekers hunkering down in their dens for the winter’s cold last months, and the hobbyists turning to their shops now that the holidays have wound down.
Are you selling something highly seasonal?
Because it tracks how categories and items sell throughout the year, you’ve got the power to forecast demand (and make lots of great decisions because of it).
Take, for example, this chart from the Growth tab tracking sales volume for digital cameras.
Though late November and December are surely the boom months for that digital camera, January still brings in large sales volume for the category, and there is only a brief dip before shoppers are buying them again once again.
What would this mean for sellers stocking digital cameras? They may not have to rely on promotions to move their merchandise, because they know buyer demand will be there through spring.
Now I bet you’re interested to see what the Growth tab says about your inventory.
One plan. Three steps. Finish 2017 strong. Start 2018 even stronger.
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