It’s now late November and we’ve seen a good couple of press releases from supporting companies on how to increase and keep your Christmas period sane. However, it’s all too late as preparations for Christmas really should have been in place at or before August.
If you’ve not trained seasonal staff, arranged stock transfers, deliveries, put automation software in place, heck everything that gets amplified due to typical higher sales volume, then the next 3 weeks are going to be “fun time” for the business.
I Forgot January Once & Only Once!
However… below I’m sharing a short story on why you should not forget January and learn from a mistake I made a couple of years back.
After having a pretty hectic Christmas period, I had decided that on the 1st of January I was going to have a week or two off. Oh boy did we need it. We had been flat out for the past few months preparing for Christmas sales and had thought we had done everything right, sales were good and were very much looking forwards to the break and we thoroughly enjoyed it.
On our return, we started talking to our suppliers and that’s where it hit home, it turned out that our two main competitors had been busy & done their homework. They had an amazing 3 weeks after Christmas. They had been negotiating special deals and jumping on the clearance lines that were abundant. They’re January had rocked to the point that they had cleared more stock in those 3 weeks after Christmas, than in the entire month of December.
I cannot tell you how sick I felt, I had missed one of the oldest tricks in the book.
No Slacking in January!
January has the potential to bigger for sales volumes that December, the reason is simple people are in “sales mode”. What happens just after Christmas or even just before, 99.9% of all high-street retailers go into sales mode. People queue & even camp out on shop doorsteps to grab bargains and ironically this is really straight forwards for you to hijack.
So instead of making the mistake I made, here are five tips for preparing for the first few weeks of January or before:
Tip #1 – Delay Moving Software Providers
Shelve any idea that moving software providers, that can wait until the middle or later in January, if they got you through Christmas, then a few weeks delay won’t make much difference. If it’s not completely broken, don’t fix it (yet).
Tip #2 – Speak to Your Suppliers in Advance
Ask them explicitly what is going on sale after Christmas, suggest that you’ll be able to take larger volumes or stock that didn’t do well at a discounted rate. Spell it out on them, you have extra buying power after Christmas and you can help your sales rep hit his bonus for January.
Tip #3 – Prepare Several Lines to go into “Sale Mode” Now
By using tip #2, you will have an idea on what product you may have at better rates for a sale, as such prepare any data around these in advance, it’ll only take a few minutes per SKU as you can easily create duplicates or variations of the SKU in advance, with new details and perhaps use a different listing template to go with them.
Also a slightly different method would be to consider products that you would feel comfortable sitting on for 9 months, that you know will do next year and scoop extra discounts now and take a punt on higher returns next year?
Tip #4 – Do the Artwork Now
Designers are typically not very busy at this time of the year and it could be a good time to grab a saving on a mild branding redesign for a sale period. Such as adding sale logo’s to an existing template and preparing the design aspect in advance, so that its a click & go event, rather than a rush job when it’s too late.
You might also want to look at the two articles I wrote earlier this year on How to Make Your Own eBay Daily Deals & Weekly Deals and another on How To: Using eBay Shop Keywords to Leverage the Extra eBay Shop Pages, as you can prepare these in advance and hide the pages in the shop, then when it comes to sales time, swap them over in your eBay shop.
Tip #5 – Email Marketing
The same as the visual aspect, if you’ve worked and have obtained a couple of product ranges that will be worthy of a sale, then combine in the updated artwork to your email marketing campaigns and prepare the notifications in advance, so when the time comes, it’s a quick check over and off you go.
As an idea, if you have multiple products, you could make an event of it, explain which products you have going on sale and when (a delayed sale) and notify customers on say a daily or bi-daily basis of the latest sale item (you’ll need to be careful with this not to spam, just make your offering exceptionally compelling).
Don’t make the mistake I made, prepare for January, what products can you clear, what products can you buy to clear and how can you leverage the “sales mode” that most buyers go into at or before January?
If you do this now, before competitors have started having the conversations, then you can be first in and negotiate the best deals in advance, prepare a campaign and take January easy, knowing that you’ve worked extra hard now and actually have a plan for the month, rather than just “seeing what happens”.