The Holidays focus online sellers to ensure inventory will fulfill peak order volume, the manpower and supplies to ship products on time into the mail stream before carrier cutoff dates, and a robust online selling platform that can cope with the season.
When the season comes to a close, an online business has its own set of challenges and opportunities to navigate the post-Holiday hangover in sales that some will experience. If you’re prepared, you’ll sail smoothly into to the New Year with some loyal customers that will boost your sales over the next year and even get some new sales before the year is up.
Small sales bumps right after Christmas
Christmas is the “big” holiday that marks the end of the Holiday season for many, but there are some distinct revenue opportunities up for grabs.
Gift Card purchases. Whether you offer your own gift cards or you sell gift cards for your site, be prepared for a small sales bump as soon as Christmas day. The faster you get those Christmas orders out, the better chance you have at creating loyal, returning customers. Remember, even if the original money was gifted to someone, the gift card purchaser is a fan of your products and can always come back for more.
Even if you don’t sell store specific gift cards to your site, people receive general gift cards they can’t wait to spend, and your site could be one of those places.
If you haven’t yet, consider a store gift card to your site as early as possible to be prepared for next Holiday Season.
Post-Christmas sales and After Christmas Sales. Big retailers are exceptional at event driven marketing and sales traditions. Just like Black Friday seems like a planned multiple week event now rather than the single day it used to be, retailers and consumers both expect “post-Christmas” sales that are fast becoming the norm. If you want to be a part of that, you can time a specific sale just after Christmas to get a piece of that action.
Consider hopping on the trend right after Christmas ends. Offering a specific sale the day after Christmas can net you some sales from Gift Card purchasers and anyone getting a “gift” for themselves that they were hesitant to buy in case friends and family happened to gift it to them.
Returns after Christmas
Returns can be messy and expensive if you’re not prepared. Before the Holidays are over, make sure you have a rock solid return policy in place that works for the products you sell and your capabilities as a business. Not all businesses are Amazon and can afford to take all returns 100% no questions asked.
Also, beyond a sensible return policy, make sure you have a way to generate return labels easily and can pull up customer order information quickly as well, or you’ll have a mountain of work on your hands.
20% of all returns occur within the Holiday Season, and can be a major hit to revenue, especially if your store is the type to have regular returns—sites that sell clothes are a great example, as the sizing can be wrong especially when given as a gift, so you need to anticipate a large number of returns if it’s something expected as a usual occurrence.
Technically, returns should be easy to process, and one of the easiest ways to manage them is through the use of shipping software like ShippingEasy. Reason being is that if someone requests a return, you can easily pull up the past order by tracking #, order #, or the name of who made the purchase and create a quick return label that will email directly to the customer. Alternatively, if you set up scan-based return labels for your business, this gives you the ability to include a valid shipping label inside your order that is only charged when it’s scanned at the post office.
If you’re not using shipping software, you’ll have to generate and send the label to your customer manually in some fashion, or see what your selling platform’s options are for returns.
Learning from the Holiday Rush
The Holiday rush is a great time to see how your business runs firing on all cylinders. Even popular mainstream sites go down, servers are hit hard, and timely fulfillment capacity is pushed to the limit. Where were your logistical bottle necks? Did it take too long to get your labels printed? Were you stuck doing some repetitive manual process that could have been automated? Was it hard to manage inventory across selling platforms? Did your site go down due to a spike in traffic?
These are common problems that have software solutions, or better solutions than you are currently using. Look into new solutions to start the New Year with, or consider making new practices you made for the holiday season a permanent part of your business.
Examples of some of these productivity boosting services include things like shipping fulfillment software services, inventory management services, product listing services, accounting software, and even consider changing selling platforms if your current platform isn’t powerful enough or it’s too hard to manage.
The Holidays serve as a great time to grow your business. As long as you can retain some of the customers you got from Holiday sales, you can use that as a base to maintain growth throughout the year that will lead to an even more successful Holiday season next year. Happy sales, and to a big New Year!