How to prepare for the Christmas rush

There may be months to go before the holidays are upo¬†us, but it’s never too soon to start planning ahead. With the Christmas season creeping earlier

and earlier each year, a delay in arrangements could leave you steps behind your competition with no way to gain ground.

Online shopping has been steadily on the rise, and no less is expected for the 2016. Ecommerce sales expected to rise over 13% year over year, and the right preparation can make all the difference. With these tips, you can get ready for your most successful year yet, no matter what the holiday season has in store.

Plan Your Sales

With busy season on the horizon, it’s best to draw up your plans before orders start coming in at an accelerated rate. Rather than discounting prices or highlighting seasonal inventory on a whim, map out what you’re going to do ahead of time.

Decide what kinds of promos you’ll be offering and when you’ll offer them long before you’re faced with important decisions on a short deadline. Whether you plan on rewarding regular customers or marking down items with lower turnover to attempt to drive up sales, have a clear idea in place to make sure you approach the season with proper due diligence and attention to detail.

Create a Promotional Calendar

Unless you’re running one sale all through the holidays, organization will by your biggest ally as times get tough. Instead of implementing the sales and promotions you decided upon whenever the moment strikes, have a set in stone calendar implemented to assist you in managing your sales.

Decide on start dates, end dates, the promo codes you’ll use, and the advertisement approaches you’ll take well in advance, and stick to your plan like it’s the law. Without a good way of coordinating sales and marketing with the key dates in the holiday season, it will be unfortunately easy to fall behind.

Organize Your Store

Your inventory may be awesome, but that doesn’t mean everything you sell will be appropriate for the holidays. Before things take off, make time to organize your listings for the busy times ahead.

Place top sellers and items you’re promoting at the top of your lists, and make sure to incorporate them into your marketing material. Consider adding stats, like review features and inventory counts, to add extra insight into your sales practices while providing a richer, fuller experience for site visitors. You can also fine-tune your product descriptions, highlighting holiday-worthy ideas while refreshing available content.

Customize Your Home Page

With a special occasion on the horizon, your website should be able to live up to the celebrations you have in store. Instead of leaving things the same they’ve always been, consider adding a few festive touches to your home page, landing pages, or ecommerce storefront to emphasize the joy of the season. These changes can be small, like seasonal icons or decorations, or a full-scale redesign with overarching holiday themes.

Holiday-specific changes can also include adding new categories to your store, like “Holiday Favorites” or “Stocking Stuffers” to make sure visitors see everything relevant you have available as soon as they arrive.

Manage Marketing Material

If no one knows your inventory is on sale, there’s a good chance your store will be unable to impress. In order to draw in the kind of business you’re expecting, it’s important to step up your marketing endeavors accordingly. This can mean targeted ad campaigns across social media platforms or aggressive email marketing strategies; the choice is up to you.

Prior to the start of the holiday season, decide what you want to do and when. Will you be sending a kick-off email with your initial promo codes, or will you start on Facebook and turn to email when holiday deadlines draw closer? No matter how you choose to approach to upcoming season, have a plan in place in advance.

Prep Advertising Copy

Great copy isn’t something that happens overnight. Email marketing, Facebook posts, and even Tweets should be written, edited, re-written, and approved before you even come close to distributing your message to the world.

Rather than saving content for the last minute, draft some of your marketing materials now to ensure you’re not missing a beat. Put together emails, assemble Facebook promoted posts, and write up the messages you plan to Tweet. Once the season gets busy and you’re too occupied to spend time writing, all you’ll have to do is hit send.

Pump Up Your Blog

Blogging is a great way to enhance SEO techniques, increase web presence, and give customers a direct conduit for inside information. As such, your blog should be at the center of your holiday promotional strategies.

Finding time to write when things get hectic can be a challenge, so the more you can do now, the better. Start by creating a list of the posts you’d like to publish, and create outlines now so that you don’t lose your train of thought. Then, as time permits, fill in your posts over the next few weeks so that you’ll be ready when the holiday rush strikes.

Check Inventory Levels

You need inventory to sell in order to make sales. When you see big numbers on the horizon, your shelves should be stocked to the fullest, ensuring you won’t leave a single customer feeling frustrated with out of stock gifts or extended shipping times that miss the big day completely.

Prior to the holiday season kickoff, take some time to review your inventory from top to bottom. Take a look at analytics to measure sales statistics and go over your records to see what you sold most last season. By identifying the items most likely to move, you’ll be ready to order extras, negotiate purchase agreements, and do what it takes to keep your best sellers on the shelves.

Automate Your Shipping Process

Fulfillment can be an uphill battle for even the best ecommerce stores. During the holiday season, when orders are coming in as fast as you can process them, wasting time preparing for shipments is the last thing you can afford to do.

StarShipIT is an amazing way to automate the shipping and order management process, working within your ecommerce pages to simplify fulfillment from start to finish. With handy allocation processes between mail carriers, mailing label preparation and printing, and fast, easy customer communication channels, you’ll never have to worry about shipping again, no matter how many orders come in.

Consider Returns

With the gift-giving season upon us, some purchases just won’t work out. Even well-intended gifts miss the mark from time to time, and that means some of your inventory may be returned. Instead of dreading refund requests and return shipping demands, the right fulfillment software can make the process a breeze.

With StarShipIT, return shipments are fast and simple. You can provide your customers with everything they need to simplify returns, including pre-paid postage, prepared mailing lables, and carrier coordination. Rather than stressing anyone out with hoops to jump through just to send inventory back, your buyers will be happy with the process from start to finish.

The holiday season is among your best opportunities to increase sales, drive revenue, and show the world why you’re number one at what you do. When you want to ensure this year is a success, mapping out your game plan now can be the difference between smooth sailing and stormy skies. With a few helpful tips, a little organization, time spent planning ahead, and some help from StarShipIT, it’s never been easier to kick off the holidays on the right foot.