The 4th and Final Quarter

October 2, 2012

It’s the first week of October. It is, officially, the 4th and final quarter of 2012. Thanksgiving is now just 52 days away, including today. Which means that you have 52 days until Black Friday, and then another 23 until Christmas Day. But…

You’ll be fine. Just follow these tips and you should be a bit more comfortable about the upcoming months. Remember, all this traffic is a great thing for you and your business. :)

  1. Research. Before you do anything, you must research your position. See what your competition is doing. Try the Internet’s WayBack Machine and see if you can find out what promotions went on last year. You don’t have to beat it, but some of them may be clever enough to inspire you to make your own version for this year.
  2. Pricing. You need to make sure that when people see your products, they immediately go “That’s a great value.” People during the holidays are buying a lot of merchandise, and the more valuable they feel your product is for their money, the better you and they will feel during and after the sale. Don’t offer your products for less than they are worth, but overpricing could kill you this holiday season.
  3. Promotions. Sales are the lynchpin of Black Friday and holiday sales. With your pricing strategy, keep in mind the promotions that you’re planning to offer for these days and how you’re going to make sure you are still making a profit on your sales. Remember, most everybody’s horrible at fractions and percentages. So, use that to your advantage. Giving 50% more of a product free and a B1G1 seem the same to people purchasing, but the former is more likely to be easier on your pocket.
  4. Shipping. If you don’t offer expedited shipping, now may be a time to look into it. Having the “order by [date] to receive by [date]” message on your website is paramount to preventing the majority of concerns on arrivals for e-commerce stores. For marketplaces & auctions, this is probably not as easy for you, but some sort of notification might be nice in your listings. Consider offering free or discounted shipping for some of your higher-selling products, or creating a discount around “order $X and get free shipping.”
  5. Marketing. Every customer pretty much expects that you’re going to offer some sort of sale for Black Friday and/or Cyber Monday. Don’t let yourself get left by the wayside by not telling them about exactly what you’re doing. Make up a snappy title for your e-mail campaign that will leave others looking lame. If you participate in PPC ads, make sure that they’re also eye-catching, advertise whatever promotions you’re running, and call the customer to actually click on your ad. (And then make it worth their while when they actually get to the landing page. After all, you paid for that click.)
  6. Record. Write down everything. Next year, around this time, you’ll love yourself for doing this. Time has a funny effect on memories, and writing yourself a diary of the time everything took to manage, what you did, what worked (and what didn’t), and the successes you experienced will help immensely when it’s time to do it all again.
  7. Relax. You will get everything done. Don’t try to conquer the world, just do what you do the best that you can. These months are busy. They always have been; they always will be. So, take the moments that present themselves and relax. Wine, beer, potato chips, molten chocolate cake… whatever floats your boat. (You can see that food is my favorite way to indulge.)

As much as you can do ahead of time, do it. Automation can help you tackle this season, as well as a couple of extra hands on deck. Stock up on shipping labels, boxes, tape, and packing materials so that you’re ready to fulfill and ship orders almost as quickly as they come in.

Do you have some pearls of wisdom that you’ve gained through previous seasons? Let me know in the comments!

I’m Erika, the social media & content manager for ShipStation. You’ll find me on Twitter, Facebook, and the other areas of the ShipStation world. In my free time, I’m a lover of video games, my cats, and other generally nerdy things. :)

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