Episode 147: Show Notes
Today on the podcast we welcome back one of our BFF’s, Jordan Ellis, of Jordandené. Jordan owns a geek chic apparel company where she sells all the nerdy, girly stuff you could ever imagine – all across the country and the world. Jordan also does live events and sells her products online, making almost half of her annual revenue during the three to four-week holiday season! That’s right, ‘tis the season for sales!
So today, we are talking products and how to not miss out on opportunities and stress yourself out when it comes to the crazy holiday season. We discuss everything from the best time to start preparing for the holiday season, lining up your stock, handling Black Friday promotions, roping in assistance and how to get yourself super prepared for this exciting and rewarding time of the year. We want to encourage you to use this episode as your guiding light for the holiday season, whether it’s this year or next. It’s never too late to get prepared so you can win in the realm of product. So let’s jump in and get started!
What Products Should You Have In Line For The Holiday Season?
The summer is when you need to start thinking about which products you want to have out by the holiday season because that takes a long time. Products need to be designed, photographed and launched with all the marketing tools in order. So if you want a product launched in October/November, you need to plan for them in August/September. Whatever you do best, in terms of product – have it in line for the holiday. For example, if you have limited stock of your best seller, make sure you have extra in stock for the holidays. For Jordan, there are some products she just wants to discontinue but she is going to keep them until after Christmas because it’s just better to have them as an option. Look at what your shop does the best in and have those products in line for the holidays. Start using Google Analytics to see where and what you sell the most of and actually look at the numbers to figure this out.
Preparing For Holiday Stock: How Much Is Too Much?
So how do you know how much extra stock to have on hand for the Christmas season? The thing that has helped Jordan prepare has been having a backup plan. So if you have left-over stock, have a plan for creative ways to re-package that stock and sell it. For example, one way could be donating your stock in January to get press if it didn’t sell. There really is no hard science to this, but Jordan’s advice is to try to cover yourself on both ends. Jordan had her last big launch in the middle of October because she didn’t want to be having photo shoots or writing copy for launches in the middle of the holidays. So since that’s all done, the rest of the holiday is just reminding people. So, writing gift guides, writing about top sellers or reminding people about what is already out – but not doing anything new. There’s a big possibility that sales are going to be greater because your customers will feel like you are really present because you won’t be focusing or putting your energy into anything new. Instead, you’re pushing your existing product.
Mistakes To Avoid Over The Holiday Period
All of your sales come in in three to four weeks before Thanksgiving and the Christmas deadline. Almost half of Jordan’s sales for the year come in during that time. You might think you have time to make things before orders come in but the truth is, you don’t. And that’s been Jordan’s biggest mistake. Her advice is that it’s best not to say you have something in stock, with the intention of making it during the holiday season. Because you will be up very late making things! Either make sure the product is made beforehand or don’t advertise it. It is important to communicate your shipping information and deadlines clearly to your customers ahead of time. Write an email that goes out to them and tells them if something is not going to get to them before Christmas and check if they’re cool with that.
Managing An Unhappy Customer Over The Holidays
The best thing is to be totally honest. If someone emails you and asks if a product is going to come by Christmas and there’s a 50/50 chance, you have to either say “No,” or “Maybe.” Even if you tell them the odds, everyone will believe it will be there by Christmas and they’ll be mad if it’s not. So be brutally honest and say, “Probably not, are you cool if it comes a day late?” If it is late, have a plan to cushion the blow. Have a predetermined gift you can send them or a code for a certain amount off. The post-office is also crazy over this time, so have a plan in case their products are late.
Is It A Good Idea to Get Some Help Over The Holidays?
In terms of packaging, labeling, etc., how do you make sure that you have all your systems set-up? If there’s anything slow in your process that you can make quicker, sort it out in the fall. For example, if you are still manually printing labels, cutting them out and taping them on – buy a label printer before the holidays. If you don’t have an assistant, you can always rope in your friends. Offer to buy them drinks and dinner if they’ll come over and help you package product. You probably will want an extra pair of hands over this time, in any way you can.
Handling Promotions And Discounts Around Black Friday
The thing with product-based businesses is that you don’t have to discount over Black Friday, but it is kind of expected. You can get a lot of free marketing by people going to every website they’ve ever heard of and looking for deals. Jordan has a really big Black Friday discount built in because it’s still not less than her wholesale rate, so she’s not losing money on anything. She uses this as a way to try to get more customers. Jordan usually does a 40% discount, which is a lot, but she knows that this is the biggest sale of the year and every other sale will be less than that. It’s important to know every single cost involved in your product so you are not losing money because of Black Friday! It’s important to remember people might have been waiting all year to buy from you on Black Friday. They might have been saving up and they’re ready to spend. For Jordan, a customer who usually buys one thing from her in a year will come through on Black Friday and buy 12 things for her whole family. And this is what you want!
What Else Should Be Happening In The Business Over The Holidays?
Jordan has most of her blog posts cued up over holiday time and they will go out every day. But if you miss one, you miss one and that’s totally fine too. But the great thing about Jordan’s business is she gets more photos from people around this time than any other time. This makes Instagram even easier. People are also more fine being sold to because they are looking for gifts, so it doesn’t feel to sales-y to be pushing your product. It is the easiest marketing time, so go out there and market!
Approaching Wholesale Businesses With Your Product
Jordan approaches tiny stores with her product and starts working on relationships with those stores well before approaching them with her product. Drop into their store, buy from them, follow them on social media – so they remember you when they get to buying your product for their store. Often stores will ask for a sample product to test out with their customers before buying a full stock from you. Jordan recommends offering a store minimum for your product, depending on your own situation, and making sure it’s worth it for you. If you can work holiday craft fairs into your schedule, they are a great way to for people to pick up last minute Christmas gifts. Jordan has also set up a small holiday pop-up shop at her house. Invite some friends who also sell products, have a dinner party and do some Christmas shopping!
- Find out what products you should have in line for the holiday season. [0:05:45.1]
- Learning how to prepare for holiday stock and how much is actually too much. [0:05:45.1]
- Mistakes to avoid when it comes to product sales over the holiday period. [0:11:30.1]
- Strategies for managing an unhappy customer correctly during the holidays. [0:14:38.1]
- Find out whether or not it is a good idea to hire extra help for your business over the holidays. [0:15:38.1]
- Handling product promotions and discounts for your Black Friday sales. [0:17:20.1]
- What else you should be doing in your business over the holiday season. [0:26:00.1]
- Learn the strategies to use for approaching wholesale businesses with your product. [0:15:38.1]
- Foster the systems that are slowing you down.
- Be as organized as you can.
- Ask for help if you need it.
- Set up an email capture for marketing.
- Think about your shipping message now.