Frooition are proud to present a guest blog from Dan Wilson of TameBay.com
In the blazing sun (or not) of August, it’s a perfect time to think about your holiday season. No, not sun sea and sand. But Santa and seasonal sales. For ecommerce enterprises selling on eBay, Amazon and elsewhere, it’s time to think about Christmas and the holidays.
The lowest point of the ecommerce year is the nadir of the August bank holiday weekend coming up. If it’s a scorcher, sales will likely be sluggish but it’s uphill from there all the way to Christmas and if all’s well, November and December should be a real selling frenzy and bigger than 2012.
Planning your approach to Christmas right now is vital. It seems likely that this year’s seasonal buying spree will be elongated as in 2012. Cost-conscious shoppers are feeling the pinch and will start shopping for Christmas gifts from as early as September to spread out the expense.
Here are some things to consider:
Learn from 2012
Look back, crunch the numbers, learn from your mistakes. Be honest with yourself and forensically review how you coped last year. What went wrong? What went well? Even isolating one mistake you made and putting in place a resolution is a good thing. If you haven’t lived an ecommerce Christmas before, remember to keep track of your experiences for 2014.
It’s the obvious one but what will you be selling this Christmas? It’s a great time to expand into new lines, experiment with selling different products and even branch out into a whole new category area. On some levels, sourcing great stock is a matter of gut feel because you really know your area but with the appliance of science you can take out the guesswork. Service such as Terapeak <www.terapeak.com>, which is now also available for Amazon as well as eBay, offer vital marketplace intelligence on what’s selling and for how much. It also helps you analyse the underlying trends and size up the competition.
The single biggest ecommerce buying trend is the massive number of people who now buy online almost exclusively on iPads and smartphones. It’s fuelling growth for eBay in particular and has been a key driver of their growth in 2013.
Take time to examine and critique your listings on tablets and smartphones, if you haven’t already. And even if you have, do it again. Then take the time to spruce up your listings so they are mobile optimised. Pictures in particular are key to mobile buyers and with the new picture standard rules coming into force on eBay in October, absolutely in need of your attention.
Grease the wheels and consider the efficiency of your business. Time is your most precious commodity and the myriad of tools and helpers out there can help you become more efficient. It could be stock control, accounting, optimising your order process. Every ecommerce business has something they can do better and there’s help available.
If you’re going to start using a new tool or system, aim to get it in place well in advance of the Christmas rush. Things inevitably go wrong and you really don’t want to be fire-fighting when you should be rushing out orders. Also, you’ll need time to master new tool to use them effectively.
Review your postage charges
It’s notable in the past year how much more competitive the postal industry has become. In particular the 3-5 day courier sector has burgeoned and Royal Mail has restructured its prices. Now too eBay has announced that final value fees will be chargeable on P&P charges. Double check you’re using the right services. Shop around and size up the numerous options and ascertain you’re using the right companies. There is so much choice now.
Find extra capacity by outsourcing
One way to increase your business capacity and deal with the seasonal surge is to outsource your fulfilment. One seller I know justifies the expense easily. His business is highly seasonal and roughly quadruples in terms of sales volumes for about six weeks at Christmas. In the past he has hired temp staff to pick, pack and sort despatches.
Last year he used a fulfilment firm and increased his margins dramatically and saved a great deal of time and money. The experiment has also encouraged him to outsource some stock lines all year round allowing him to downsize his warehouse operation.
Now is also the perfect time to rebrand your eBay store and listings.