Ecommerce Blog

The ultimate guide to getting ready for Christmas

Yeah, it might be still summer but you have to start preparing for the busy Christmas period right now! I was going to put a load of statistics in this bit about how Christmas sales are rising every year but come on, you know it is! More and more people are buying online than ever before. This is exactly why you have to start getting ready now as you could lose out on many sales if you aren’t ready for it! Below I’ve listed 3 ways that your business can get prepared for Christmas.

Probably the most important thing that you don’t want to get wrong. Buying stock at the right time can be crucial. Imagine that you hit the last week in November and your best sellers completely sell out. Then you ring up your wholesaler and they have a 2-week waiting time for those products, or even worse, they’ve sold out too! Devastating! It goes without saying that you can’t make sales unless you’ve got the product there to sell, so it’s important to prepare and keep up with your stock levels over the Christmas period.

However, for some small businesses, finding funds to buy the additional stock before the Christmas period can be a struggle. This is why you have to start planning right now. If you have no way of putting aside funds for buying extra stock, then I would suggest the following 5 things.

1) Selling some of your slow moving stock in bulk. (Try uploading job lots to eBay)
2) Putting on a sale to get rid of old stock. (Make sure that this is a quick weekend sale as there will be more sales coming over the Christmas period)
3) Asking your suppliers for a 30 days account. (This means you get the stock and then have 30 days to pay the invoice)
4) Speaking to your bank about a business overdraft, loan or credit card. (Overdrafts are a quick option. Loans and credit cards can take a while to get sorted)
5) Find anything that you don’t need anymore and sell it. (Old computers, excess stock and anything else you can find)

One thing to watch out for is ordering too much seasonal stock. The last thing you want is a warehouse full of Christmas stock in January. If you have great cash flow and storage facilities, then it’s not really a big problem as you can just save it till next Christmas but like most businesses, cash flow and warehouse space are two precious things that a business needs.

If you have already been through a Christmas period with your business, then the best bit of advice would be to really analyse what worked and what didn’t work for you last time. What items sold best? What didn’t sell? What delivery issues did you have? If you don’t have any previous experience and this is your first Christmas period, then try starting with researching what stock would sell best in your market at Christmas time. If you’re in the clothing business, then you wouldn’t buy a load of shorts, you would buy winter stock like jumpers and even Christmas related stock. If you are really unsure or have too much choice, then talk to your suppliers as they will know what products sell best at this busy time.

You could have all the stock and all the customers in the world but if you don’t have the staff to help then your business will suffer. At Christmas time people are more stressed than ever when it comes to online shopping. If you can’t deliver on time, then you will more than likely lose that customer forever. A lot of businesses forget that people like to receive their orders in time so that they can be organised. Not everyone wraps their gifts on Christmas Eve you know!

I get it you know, you’re reluctant to hire extra staff as you don’t know how busy you’re going to be. Especially if this is your first Christmas in business. But I can tell you now that if you’re trying to get sales at this time of year and you have the right amount of stock then you will get busy. At Christmas time people get snapped up by better-prepared rivals so make sure you start looking now. I would suggest that if you are unsure about how much help you will need then get someone who can work part time whenever you need them. But be wary of your legal responsibilities as an employer of temporary staff.

When it comes to the busy Christmas period you won’t have any time to think of what’s next. You need to plan every month. While you’re at it, plan January. Get those January sales planned out. In my opinion, January is the last stage of the busy Christmas period. Especially the first week or two. People have money to spend and are on the hunt for January sales. You need to join the sheep and put your items in the sale. You can be selective though, I usually try and get rid of most of the winter stock in January at a cheap price.

Anyway, going back to Christmas. You need to plan and then implement what you have planned. So what do I mean by this? You need to plan if you’re wanting to send out a festive email to your subscribers. Once you’ve planned it you then need to implement it and design the email so that it’s ready to be sent out. (Can’t design? Don’t worry, take a look at Same applies to any discounts you are wanting to do. Plan what it is that you want to add to the sale, how long will it be in the sale for? What discount to give the customer?

Okay, now I’m going to make it even easier for you. I’ll provide you with information that I still use now to plan my online business for the busy Christmas period. We sell on ASOS, arguably the largest fashion site in the world, if we aren’t prepared then it would detrimental to our business. I remember not planning one year and it was such a stressful 3 months. You are quite literally just taking a stab in the dark if you don’t plan. I ran out of stock completely at the start of November. To make matters worst, our main supplier went bust and I could not get hold of any stock from them. I had no backup plan and having to ring new suppliers who had no trust in me was a real problem. I paid top dollar for everything, had no 30-day invoices and also had no idea what the quality of the stock was going to be like. As you can imagine it was a very expensive and stressful Christmas. I made sure that the year after I planned everything I wanted to do and how I was going to implement it.






In summary, make sure that you plan way in advance. Find out what the key to a successful Christmas is. Is it buying the right kind of stock or just being super consistent? What ever it is that works, keep doing it. Don’t take any huge risks, especially financial. Keep your common sense hat on. Just because your supplier is saying that you should buy one million Christmas hats doesn’t mean it’s a good idea for your business. (Remember they want to have a good Christmas too). The last bit of advice would be to just do what you’re good at and try not to over think all of this. It’s quite basic really, just don’t over sell the whole Christmas thing. I would recommend not having floating snow on your site, not turning all your banners red and to not go over the top with it. The customers are there to buy your products, remember that!