The holiday selling season is upon us once again and, as an online seller, I can't help but be excited.
The fourth quarter is one of the best times to be in e-commerce. The sales start rolling in, you have the potential to sell inventory that was beginning to gather dust on your shelves and, along with it, you see your profits start to grow.
Unfortunately, along with the excitement, profits and sales, you also start to see a rise in returns, a rise in customer service issues and a rise in overall anxiety.
So, how do you keep your wits about you when the pandemonium ensues? Simple: You keep a level head. But beyond that, there are several things you can do to make this holiday selling season your best, and least overwhelming, yet.
1. Plan ahead
There is nothing worse than finally selling that item that's been listed for two years, only to have to refund the customer because you can't find it
Just as marathon runners begin training months or years before the big race, you will not have a successful holiday selling season without a little preparation on your part. Begin stocking up on shipping supplies, inventory and everything else you may need before the season hits—in other words, now!
2. Organization is key
Holiday seasons are hectic and unpredictable in the online selling world. You will have days with no sales, and days with back-to-back sales. In order to be ready, make sure your office or workspace is as organized as possible.
Have a "shipping station" set up with everything you need for packing and shipping at the ready. Have your inventory organized by category or alphabetized, whatever works best for you. Just be sure that you know where to find things. There is nothing worse than finally selling that item that has been listed for two years, only to have to refund the customer because you can't find it.
3. Have your customer service responses down pat
If you receive a refund request from a buyer who received their item 38 days ago, what do you say? If you have a potential buyer who wants to buy your item, but can't pay until next Friday, how will you handle it?
Think out every potential issue, and determine how you will handle it. Don't drive yourself crazy over every detail. Just have a general idea of your main customer service policies for all of the main issues. Your shipping policy, payment policy, return policy and customer service policies should be the same, across the board, for every customer. Should a situation arise, you will know exactly how to handle it without breaking a sweat.
This is the time of year to be happy and, if you let yourself get overwhelmed, stressed out and burned out, you won't be able to enjoy it
The holidays bring with them an excess of stress. It can be tempting to just wall yourself off from everything and everyone. Don't do it! If you have co-workers or employees, be sure to stay tuned into their needs and schedules.
Keep your customers up to date as well. If you are running holiday specials, promote them to the best of your ability and, if you will be going on vacation, be sure to let your customers know so that they get a chance to order before you leave.
5. Don't take on too much
This time of year, it seems everything is available in excess. Food, drink, family, guests. Remember, you are only one person and you won't be any good to anyone—customers included—if you overextend yourself.
Be good to yourself! Now is not the time to take on extra projects or burn yourself out. This is the time of year to be happy and, if you let yourself get overwhelmed, stressed out and burned out, you won't be able to enjoy it.
6. Be happy, grateful and thankful
Last but not least… enjoy this time of year. It only comes around once every 12 months. The sales will roll in, as will the guests, the food, the family and the good times. Enjoy each moment as it comes and take nothing for granted. Take a moment to think back on all you have accomplished over the year and give yourself a well- deserved pat on the back.
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Respected as a trusted e-commerce speaker, educator and entrepreneur, Kat Simpson has been a successful online merchant for more than 10 years. Simpson is an eBay Education Specialist, with experience selling on Addoway, Bonanza, Buy.com and iOffer. She shares Fulfillment By Amazon selling expertise through her Facebook Group, ThatKat, and is the co-host of the popular weekly e-commerce podcast, That Kat Radio. Connect with Simpson on Twitter and Facebook.
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