It seems like it was just New Year’s Day, but Cyber Monday is just around the corner. No matter how fast it might feel like the year has passed by, it’s time for small business owners to start getting ready for the annual rush of consumers. With the current deluge of supply chain problems and out of stock products, that’s going to be more difficult than ever.
There are a few ways that concerned operators of smaller eCommerce businesses can get ready regardless of what they might be dealing with, however. You may want to start out by looking for alternate suppliers if you’ve run into some issues with getting needed merchandise.
Reevaluating Your Current Logistics Workflows
Chances are that you’ve already worked out the kinks involved with shipping products to your clients. You’ll probably need to offer free shipping during the Christmas season if you don’t already, but you shouldn’t run into too many problems with that end of the equation. On the other hand, your suppliers may have been telling you that they’re out of stock of many products. If you can, then place some large orders now so that merchandise will get to you in time to be shipped out later this month.
Don’t be afraid to work with a different supplier than you normally would. It’s important to periodically reassess your suppliers to better gauge which ones are able to provide your organization with the products you need to satisfy customer demand. If you really like your current supplier, then you don’t have to completely change them out. Simply shop around for some extra products now and return to working with your normal suppliers once the Christmas shopping season is done.
Small business owners who don’t have a regular supply chain they rely on can still get ready by stocking up on extra goods so they can be certain that they have enough for the big rush. Try placing orders with a few different organizations and see which are best capable of providing you with merchandise on time. While this might not be an ideal time to experiment, several B2B sellers are likely to have dropped their prices in order to attract new clients so you may be able to save a bundle by doing so.
Proprietors who make their own goods and sell them in online boutiques will want to do the same with their supplies. While they might not need to order finished goods in any large quantities, they will need to stock plenty of raw materials.
Securing a Supply of Raw Materials Ahead of the Holiday Season
Chances are that most boutique sellers have already started to make more of whatever it is they sell because this is their busiest time of year. Those who haven’t may want to consider ordering a full pallet of raw materials so that they can meet an increase in customer demand that they experience because of Christmas. Knitters will need quite a bit of yarn while those who make natural soaps or candles will need oil in just as great a quantity.
Don’t order more than you could reasonably use, however. Past performance doesn’t necessarily translate into future results, but you might want to start out by looking at how many goods you were able to move the year before. Fiscal year 2020 was rather unusual for many businesses, but some of last year’s numbers might still help you decide how many raw materials to order this year. Depending on the type of business you run, it may make some sense to check out how much you sold in 2018 and 2019 before you make the call. Keep an eye on your cash flow to ensure that any spending you do makes sense.
Regardless of how much you plan on selling, you might not be able to unload very much if you don’t focus on marketing as well.
Honing Your Marketing Efforts for the Holiday Season
Look at all your existing marketing efforts and see if there’s something that’s not performing as well as you might have hoped. Conventional email mass marketing services may actually prove to be the most affordable, especially if you already have a list of people who follow your brand. Focus on email, online videos, and social networking for the rest of the season, since these methods have the best ROI numbers. You might want to consider sponsoring a podcast or working with an outsider influencer if it makes sense for the market space you’re in.
Never let others sell you on some kind of marketing plan that you don’t need, however. Trust yourself to understand the needs and desires of your clientele. While outside consultants might make an attractive pitch, remember that they’re in business to make money just like you are. Though you might have doubts, there’s a good chance you really do know what works for your business.
Choosing a specific market niche is always important, especially for those who might not have had extremely focused marketing campaigns in the past. Give some thought to what you’d expect your potential clients are feeling right about now. They probably feel as rushed to get their shopping done as you feel about getting your business in order. Keep this in mind as you try to find a specific niche to market to. Consider focusing on a specific age group or find a type of person who might need your products more than anyone else.
Many marketing experts will say that you want to find someone else’s pain and focus on providing them with a solution. While that’s always a good idea, keep in mind that this is supposed to be a joyous time as well. Focus your efforts on this side of the equation.
You may find that keeping your customers in better spirits is a great way to ensure that they always come back for more