The 2009 Top 10 Holiday Selling Tips for Ecommerce Merchants

Posted on October 16, 2009. Filed under: Amazon, eBay, Tips - for the eBay Seller |


The holiday selling season this year is looking great!  We have ordered in more product this year than we have in quite a few years.  And we have been preparing for Chistmas 2009 for the past few months. 

If you have not yet started to prepare for the holiday selling season it is not too late.  For ecommerce sellers who want to take advantage of this year’s great holiday selling season, we have developed a Top 10 list.

1. Get “Personally” Ready

This is the time of year to keep expectations reasonable about your personal time commitments.  Don’t overcommit and by all means enlist others in your family now to help out even more with chores around the house during November and December.  Take time to eat well and rest because getting run-down and sick during the holidays is not an option for any ecommerce seller who wants to experience the most success during the last quarter.

Now is definitely the time to do your own holiday shopping, too.  While there will likely be some things that will need to be purchased as the holiday gets nearer but many gifts can be purchased now.  And, for the items you need to purchase closer to Christmas, consider purchasing online eto save time running around to the stores.

2. Contact Manufacturers & Vendors Now

Make sure you ask your suppliers about important deadlines during the holidays.  Inquire as to the “best” way to order that will get you the fastest shipments – by phone, by email, or by fax.  Some suppliers are very strict in how they will accept orders and others are not quite so formal.  But, even so, the supplier may process fax orders more quickly for example.  Find out. 

Be sure to ask your suppliers if there are any specials right now.  Not all specials are “advertised.”  Most ecommerce sellers will be pleasantly surprised if they ask about pricing specials or free shipping offers.  Many suppliers will give better pricing breaks on larger quantity orders or will offer free shipping for orders above a certain amount.  If you don’t ask, you could be missing out on some good deals.

Also, be sure to ask your supplier which products are currently in low supply and/or will not be restocked before the holidays.  Priortize ordering those items now to keep on hand throughout the holiday selling season.  This is the time of year when the good relationship you have developed with your account rep is helpful.  Make sure to send a small gift after the holidays to your account representative to thank them for their efforts to help your business grow.


3. Get Control of Your In-stock Inventory

Validate your inventory counts now and establish re-order points so that you don’t run out of hte most popular selling items. and so that you don’t end up making a sale for an item you don’t actually have and can’t get quickly.  Holiday shoppers are not very tolerant of out-of-stock situations.

4. Order & Purchase Extra Shipping Supplies Now

Keep stocked up on paper, printer toner, self-adhesive labels (if you use them), bubble wrap, and any other supplies you typially use.  Make sure to inventory supplies once or twice weekly to avoid coming to a standstill because you run out of any one particular item.  Order free priority mail boxes and other postal supplies now.  In November and later, there is sometimes a significant delay in getting postal supplies and you don’t want to be spending your time running from post office to post office begging for a few boxes from each and/or having to spend money to purchase boxes from a supplier that you could otherwise get for free from the post office.

5. Prepare As Much in Advance as Possible

Print box inserts now in bulk.  If you include an insert in your packages which mentions “5 star service” and/or you include an insert to advertise your other venues like your own website, now is hte time to prepare the copies you think you’ll need during the hoildays.  It may be significantly cheaper and less time-consuming to print one insert and then have it photocopied at a local Kinko’s.

6. Prevent Problems during the Holidays by Taking Action Now

Get ird of “problem” inventory now, when you have more time to handle customer service issues.  If you have a particular product line and/or specific SKU that is known for having issues such as easily damaged in transit or fails to work often then now is the time to liquidate that product.  You don’t want to be spending valuable holiday selling time dealing with customer service issues instead of making money and you don’t want to have disappointed holiday shoppers who may be counting on receiving the item intact and in good working condition quickly.  Holiday shoppers don’t have time to deal with returns and damage and they become much more frustrated during the holiday season than they might otherwise.

7. Establish Internal Policies to Handle Customer Service Issues Quickly

Think in advance how you will handle any potential customer service issues during the holidays.  For example, be sure to know the process of filing an insurance claim BEFORE you need to do so.  And keep in mind that holiday shoppers can’t and won’t wait weeks for the claim to be resolved.  Having an idea in advance of how you will handle common shipping issues will help you deal quickly and efficiently with problems so that you don’t get sidetracked.

8. Review Your Listings on All Venues and on Your Website

This is definitely the time of year to make sure your eBay listings are in compliance with eBay’s policies.  Having your items removed during the busy holiday season and spending time to revise your auctions at that time is definitely not how you want to spend your time in November.  In reviewing your Amazon offerings and the information on your own website, make sure that the contact information you have listed is still valid.  If you have never input your contact information or if you have changed your email address, phone number, or anything else during the year, make sure the pages reflect the updated information.

9. Establish Cut-Off Dates for Holiday Arrival & Understand How Expedited Shipping Costs are Calculated

Make sure that you know in advance the latest dates you can ship in order to get items to the recipients in time for the holidays.  FedEx Ground service delivers to residences Tuesday through Saturday, for example, so that any delivery that must arrive to a residence on a Monday has to be sent by UPS Ground or FedEx expedited shipping.  And expedited shipment options for FedEx and UPS are heavily dependent upon the dimensions of the box as well as the package.  It would sure be disappointing to receive an amended shipping charge a few weeks later that is $20 greater or more than the  amount billed to the buyer.  Amazon 3P sellers who participate in the Fulfillment by Amazon (FBA) program get a boost in the last-minute holiday sales over their competitors who don’t use FBA.

10. Make Sure You are FOUND this Holiday Season

Brush up on how each of the venues promote listings.  This month, eBay changed how the search results for Fixed Price items are ranked, introducing the number of “impressions” an item receives in relation to the number of items purchased.  It might be a good time to start listing some auctions on eBay to be sure your listings naturally rise to the top of the search.  If you sell on Amazon, make sure you understand how the “Buy Box” is awarded since “owning the Buy Box” on Amazon during the holidays is a golden opportunity.

I wish you the best of luck this holiday season!

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2 Responses to “The 2009 Top 10 Holiday Selling Tips for Ecommerce Merchants”

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And my very best wishes for the holiday season to you too, Brews. Thanks for another excellent article.

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