It's never too early to start preparing for the holiday shopping season. No, you don't have to get your personal shopping done yet, but you need to be getting your own shop ready to take care of the customers!
The first question to address is, "What will I sell this holiday season?".
We all have our specialty niches, and may sell inside and outside of this range, adapting ourselves to the market. So what will the market bring this year?
Holiday sales will depend on the following factors:.
- Consumer confidence
- The real estate market
- Your inventory
Traditionally, top of the line, unique pieces hold their value in tough retail times. The customer is far less likely to quibble about the price of a rare antique piece or a one-of-a-kind unique design. They know the opportunity to acquire and possess such a piece may not come again. Standard items and basics, such as the plain pearl earring or bead strand, will still sell, but sales will be far more price driven than the prices for truly unique items.
Remember to tell your customer why they should buy your piece. Is it a classic style that will serve them well over the years? Is it on the cutting edge of the latest fashions? Is it a unique design that they will see nowhere else? Is it exceptionally well made? Is it an extremely low price?
You can cover both ends of the price spectrum by offering some more basic styles in your line. Pieces that may complement or accessorize a more elaborate piece in the same line are a wonderful way to accomplish this. This gives you a moderately priced add-on to suggest to the customer that purchases the more elaborate piece as well as a chance to up-sell the customer eyeing the moderately priced accessory piece.
A trip through any local mall will probably reveal storefronts that are empty. This means less competition from some traditional venues. While this does not speak well for the overall economy, it is an opportunity for all smaller sellers, who can adapt to change far more quickly than a larger operation.
Start your selection now. Make sure to take advantage of any bargains on inventory and materials and only buy the basics when you are offered a good price. Remember that your more standard items may have to be very competitively priced to sell this season. Be sure to pick up some unique materials and items as well so you can offer items customers won't see anywhere else.
For artisans, planning ahead will also allow for a nice production schedule and eliminate those late nights at the bench in September and October. If your holiday production will involve birthstone pieces, make sure that any appropriate late summer and fall options are prepared in a timely manner, allowing you to have two selling seasons. Those special items will make you stand out.
What else will? Are you offering unique packaging for the Holidays or special enclosures with each shipment? Special services, such as gift wrapping are a wonderful option. You may be able to charge for some special services, such as gift wrap, or enclosing a card and shipping a gift item directly to the recipient. If you don't charge for an extra service, be sure to find some polite way to remind your customer of the extra service you provided at no cost to them!
Start scanning your current inventory listings. If offered for sale in an online listing, is the language up to date, or is that sentence about last Mother's Day hiding in your text somewhere? Will adding some new photos to old stock help? Maybe simply switching the order of photos will give a piece new life.
In order to be ready for the Christmas holiday, you should have the following prepared:
- Inventory purchased or ordered
- Production schedule planned for pieces needing creation
- Shipping materials inventoried and orders ready to go for any needed holiday supplies
- Shop all cleaned up and ready for the addition and display of new inventory
Remember there are other things you can always do. For online listings, take photographs and save them, along with your written descriptions of the items. This will make it easier to add items in a timely fashion and always have some new listings in your shop.
When reviewing your inventory, ask yourself how long a piece has been there. Should you reduce the price? Remember that reduced pieces can also give you some nice entry level price-point purchases. Another option with some styles is to take it apart and reuse the components in a new creation.
If you work on these areas early, you will find ways to have an adequate inventory on hand for the holidays with an appropriate profit margin built in. Waiting until the last moment will reduce the impact you make on potential customers, discourage established customers, reduce your potential profits, and make your holidays more hectic than necessary, as you try to get your business and personal matters all taken care of in the same short 24-hour day!
Ruby Lane is home to hundreds of individually-owned online shops selling their own artisan jewelry creations, with a steady stream of shoppers always looking for these items. Visit www.rubylane.com