How a ‘great wall of sugar’ can inspire your online sales strategy..

For the past three weeks, every time I’ve been to a well known supermarket to do my weekly shop, I have been accosted as I walk through the main doors by an ever increasing stack of tubs of sweets.

The first week it was just ‘Roses’ and ‘Quality Street’. Week two saw the introduction of ‘Heroes’ and ‘Celebrations’ and this week they have only gone and added a stack of ‘Fruit Pastilles’ tubs as well. (Other varieties of sweets are available!) These piles are now seriously in danger of toppling over at this stage – it’s the poor customer service assistants who are unlucky enough to be positioned directly behind this great wall of sugar that I feel sorry for.

Anyway, my point is that these tubs of sweets only appear in stores during the run up to Christmas. They are products specifically associated with the festive season – in fact I doubt there’s a household in Britain who doesn’t have a stash of sweeties available during the festivities!

Now when I say ‘the run up to Christmas’ bear in mind that I’ve already said that these tubs have been eyeballing me at the supermarket door for at least the past three weeks, which takes us right back to the beginning of October. So Christmas was still around 83 days away – that’s almost 12 weeks!

Yes, this is what the high street calls the ‘festive period’ – in marketing terms anyway. But actually, starting early isn’t such a stupid idea after all and you can take a tip from all this seemingly premature foisting of seasonal stuff upon us.

In fact, I’ve already jumped on the bandwagon and treated members of The Source Report to two brand new hot product reports detailing great Christmassy hot sellers very recently and you aren’t going to get away without being subjected to ‘Christmas in October’ either!

It isn’t just the high street that should be paying heed to the Christmas season in advance of December, as you can also expect to see your online sales start to soar as people seriously consider that now is the time to start Christmas shopping – and start looking for that perfect present.

You should be prepared right now!

Here’s how you can take a tip from the High Street and profit online… simply by believing that it’s Christmas right now!

For most online sellers, it is inevitable to expect to see increased revenue around Christmas time, and so I thought that now would be a good time to help you get ready for the Christmas rush. I’m going to offer you some completely free tips that have worked for me and that could be the difference between a minor increase in your profits and a significantly noticeable income boost to you.

When does Christmas start?

This might sound like a silly question, but you need to know certain bits of information in order to run your business efficiently and successfully. Just when do your prospective buyers go from being annoyed at seeing references to Christmas far too early, to being open to ideas for gifts for their loved ones? Understanding ‘how soon is too soon’ is fundamental to your success during the festive period. Now of course, this isn’t an exact science, as each individual person visiting your listings will have their own opinion as to when they should be doing their Christmas shopping, be it in August (we all know someone who does that don’t we?) or on Christmas Eve (me).

In my 8 years of experience as an online seller, I would say that the big Christmas eBay rush takes off approximately six to seven weeks before Christmas and lasts literally until the last day for special delivery guaranteed before the big day itself (which this year is Tuesday 23rd December), even after that I’ve sometimes received emails from buyers asking if I can guarantee delivery even though they are wanting to buy on the night before Christmas! Royal Mail have already issued their final posting dates for guaranteed Christmas delivery which you can view here:

Royal Mail Christmas Delivery Dates 

So, it is likely to be around six weeks before Christmas when you start to see your sales really fly high, but that’s not when your work begins because sales will start to happen before that too. But remember, you will need to have your products in your hands and your listings prepared for this point. You want to capitalize on the Christmas rush as soon as it starts.

Be Christmas friendly with the products you already stock!

I just mentioned that you need to have your product listings prepared – but don’t worry, this needn’t mean huge effort and weeks of work. Spending a few hours on your listings will certainly help you to see some enhanced success, but only when those hours are dedicated to the right activities.

If you have a manageable number of listings running, one such activity is simply to amend your listings that are relevant to the gifts market (but would not necessarily be considered as a gift initially) and ensure they contain references to Christmas. This is simple but can be effective. Considering that almost any item can be given to someone as a present this will help you if your niche market doesn’t fall into the traditionally successful categories of DVDs, toys, clothing or perfumes for example.

What do I mean by amending your listings? Let’s take the example of a son desperately searching for the perfect gift for his father. Men are notoriously difficult to buy for but he knows that his father has an interest in cooking and creating new dishes but isn’t really sure how to find a present that will fit the bill.

So, perhaps this young man heads online and searches for the phrase ‘cooking gifts’ on eBay. He is likely to be greeted by hundreds of results but imagine if you were advertising a product within this niche – lets say it’s a hand carved oak chopping board for example and your listing title reads something like: “Unique Hand Carved Hand Crafted Chopping Board Kitchen Cooking Christmas Gift”

I’m not saying that those are the perfect keywords because I’ve just made that example up off the top of my head, but you get the idea….

But what if you can’t fit ‘Christmas’ into the title itself without sacrificing one of your all important keywords or without ending your listing and starting all over again? That’s not necessarily a problem as you can certainly still mention the festive season within your listing description or you can pay extra for a ‘subtitle’ just for the Christmas period – sometimes it’s worth it. A simple mention could be all that a prospective buyer needs to convince him or herself that your product is suitable for their nearest and dearest (or themselves of course!).

This run up to Christmas is the perfect time to make sure that all of your descriptions, titles and images for long-running product listings are completely up to date and packed full of informative information. As always, you should remember that a buyer won’t be seeing your product before they purchase as they would on the high street, so make sure you tell them everything they need to know.

Add new seasonal products for the festive period

Just like those tubs of sweets, there are products that might sell slowly (or not at all) throughout the year, then once there’s so much as a sniff of Christmas those products start to fly off the shelves! I’m talking about products such as:

  • Christmas jumpers
  • Novelty gifts
  • Novelty slippers
  • Fairy lights – indoor and outdoor
  • Santa Sacks
  • Letters From Santa
  • Fake Snow
  • Jingle Bells
  • Christmas Stocking Mantle Hangers…

There are many more – just have a look online for yourself and you’ll see. Even better if you can create personalized gifts, novelties or gift-wrapped items.

Then seal the deal!

So you’ve listed early with appropriate keywords, you’ve packed your descriptions full of useful information and let the world know that your items are brand new and make the perfect gift. Now how do you seal the deal and ensure that Christmas shoppers’ will make the purchase from you?

From experience, I know that it can come down to the guarantee – especially at Christmas. You must be able to reassure your buyers that whatever they order will arrive in time for Christmas and – here’s the best part – make sure your money back guarantee is clearly stated so that if the unfortunate happens and a present is duplicated or is not suitable, the buyer knows that they can return it for a refund (or exchange). Don’t be frightened of doing this.

And here’s the key; don’t be frightened of extending your guarantee for this period. Many high street stores do this often giving you 60 days to return goods rather than the standard 28 days. It’s very rare that you’ll get more returns just because it’s Christmas, but what it does do, is give the buyer peace of mind and ups the likelihood of them purchasing from you in the first place.

Keep in mind exactly when you can reach the post office for the last time to ensure that your goods will arrive on time, (don’t forget weekends and bank holidays) and offer dispatch right up to the very last minute to entice those late buyers too. You will also need to keep your own schedule to ensure that you can fit in additional trips to the post office around the festive period.

Armed with the knowledge as to the last moment that you can receive an order and still get it to the Post Office to arrive on time, your listings can now be revised to include, in bold lettering:

  •  Information containing facts about this being the ideal Christmas gift (or similar)
  • The last date on which your buyers can order to guarantee Christmas delivery
  • A special delivery service for those who want to get their items super fast
  • The offer of a personalization or gift-wrap service

So, to increase your profits in the coming months, make sure you revise your listings now, ready for the buying season, which is about to arrive any minute now.