Although gun-shy consumers are still hesitant about major purchases, spending has gone up by as much as 10 percent in the first half of this year compared to 2009. The increase is expected to continue throughout the holiday season.
According to a recent study by Google and OTX, 47 percent of your holiday shoppers are already online and shopping! That's great news for those of you who were prepared for this holiday season and have already started seeing an increase in sales. For the rest of us who are a bit behind, this article should help your holiday marketing get going quickly.
But here's more good news: Buyers aren't just arriving because of Christmas. How many holidays and "reasons to shop" can you count between today and January? Here are just a few:
Hostess party gifts
Christmas, Hanukkah, Kwanza and other celebrations
New Year's parties
New Year's resolutions—no surprise that the big two are losing weight (and all the fitness gear that goes with that), and getting organized
To start planning our holiday strategy, we first need to take a look at the calendar for some very important dates.
Remind your customers that they can shop from the comfort of their warm homes, with you
Mark your holiday calendar
Black Friday: This marks the day after Thanksgiving and the official start of the holiday shopping season. Thank goodness buyers aren't waiting until then. Although traditionally, Black Friday is for the brick-and-mortar businesses, you can take advantage of this date by sending out newsletter reminders to your customers that they don't have to fight the traffic, find a parking spot and deal with crowds when they can shop from the comfort of their warm homes, with you. You might want to even set up certain Black Friday-only specials in your eBay Store, Web site or a limited-time Facebook ad.
Cyber Monday: This is the Monday after Thanksgiving, which this year falls on Nov. 29. Traditionally, this is the day holiday shoppers hit online for buying. But a lot of online sellers are finding another day to be more advantageous…
Cyber Profit Monday: This is the second Monday after Thanksgiving, and will be Dec. 6 this year. I highly recommend you take advantage of both these Mondays with special savings, coupons, bonus gifts and more during that time.
Free Shipping Day: The third annual Free Shipping Day happens on Dec. 17. If you are a participating merchant on this very popular shopping site, it means you not only offer free shipping during those 24 hours, but you will also guarantee a Christmas delivery time.
The 53 percent of retailers who offered free shipping on their entire inventory during Free Shipping Day last year received 75 percent of the traffic from the Web site. Register for free to be a participating merchant.
Christmas: It's very important to learn what day of the week Christmas falls on. Christmas is a Saturday this year, which means three full shopping weekends and almost a full week's worth of shopping prior to Christmas. Just make sure you offer expedited shipping for all those last-minute shoppers.
Hopefully you have already been in contact with your suppliers and have ordered your inventory
Prepare your holiday inventory
There are two main types of inventory to carry during the holidays. You can carry depth of inventory on consistent selling products. This could be your year-round sellers, or just a holiday type of item. Hopefully you have already been in contact with your suppliers and have ordered your inventory.
The other type of inventory to carry for the coming months is the hot holiday items. You may remember the insanely in-demand Zhu Zhu Pets of last season. They follow other hot "for no apparent reason" holiday must-haves like the Cabbage Patch Doll and the pet rock.
Although I am still only hearing rumblings about what the hot toy will be this season, I can tell you a few places where I'm keeping tabs on this profitable information:
Google Alerts — An easy tool that allows you to input a search term like "hot holiday toy 2010" and automatically receive in your inbox any online posting with those keywords.
Terapeak and Pulse — Both of these tools offer the hot searches currently being used by buyers on eBay.
And of course, the "updated hourly" category searches on Amazon. Head to amazon.com and under categories, click on Toys & Games. Scroll down on the right, and you'll see the bestsellers for that hour. No big surprise that Silly Bandz are there right now. I doubt they will continue to be on that list, as their popularity is already waning.
Did you hear the big announcement from Amazon about selling in Toys & Games this year? Usually there is a cutoff date to be approved to sell in this category. But this year you can sell in Toys & Games as long as you utilize FBA, Fulfillment by Amazon. We have an amazing step-by-step class on Rock Stars taught by Cindy Shebley on how to utilize the power of FBA.
There are more great tools out there to help you find the next hot holiday item… but I can't give away all my secrets!
Better hurry… those holiday shoppers are already spending their money
A few more tips
There so many other holiday tips I could share with you, like including packets of hot chocolate in the boxes you send out, creating custom eBay Store pages and categories specifically for the holidays, pitching the very profitable Top 10 gift lists on the home page of your site, and of course being in front of your customers consistently throughout the holiday season with a timely newsletter.
However, the merchants who will be the most successful this holiday season will be the ones who know how to utilize Facebook pages and Facebook ads correctly and effectively to create intentional relationships with their customers. The OSI Rock Stars just finished a powerful, eight-week training course on Profitable Facebook for Business, and are already seeing traffic to their stores double and triple!
No matter what you choose to do this holiday season, better hurry… those holiday shoppers are already spending their money. The sooner you jump in, the sooner they will have an opportunity to spend that money with you.
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Janelle Elms is a best-selling author, inspiring educator and Visionaire of the OSI Rock Stars. You can hear her on wsRadio every Wednesday on Ask Janelle Radio. Learn the success information you need to grow your business at www.osiRockStars.com. For step-by-step training on how to set up an eBay Store for maximum exposure and profit, visit One Percent Coach.
Opinions expressed here may not be shared by Auctiva Corp. and/or its principals.