As a child, I grew up waiting all year for the Sear’s Wish Book and JC Penney’s Christmas catalog to come out. It was the highlight of the year for a bright eyed, seven-year-old child. Contained on those catalog pages was the stuff dreams were made; every toy imaginable could be found on those pages.
Like most families in my neighborhood, money was tight throughout the year, but my parents saved up all year long to make sure my brother and I had a magical Christmas. It was the one time of the year my parents would splurge, and I was able to get the action figures and toys of my choosing.
Little did I know, back then, that a large number of businesses across the country relied on families just like mine, to save up and spend a lot of their hard-earned money on gifts and decorations for Christmas. For many companies back in those days, Christmas could have accounted for as much as 60% (or in some cases even 70%) of their entire yearly revenue.
Christmas is also part of fourth quarter from a business standpoint. For those who are not familiar with business financials, a year is broken down into four quarters, with each quarter containing three consecutive months. The first quarter starts with January, and includes February and March. The next three months are in the second quarter, and so on until we get to October, which is the start of fourth quarter.
Fourth quarter is unlike any other quarter, because it contains three of the biggest holidays (Halloween, Thanksgiving, and Christmas) of the entire year. No other quarter comes close to the financial potential businesses could reap from fourth-quarter sales.
Things, though, have drastically changed over the past several decades, with the introduction of the internet. This year, far more merchandise is expected to be sold online than ever before. Most logistics, retail, and shipping businesses are projecting record revenue numbers from online sales for fourth quarter this year, which is extremely good news for resellers.
Fourth quarter is the one time a year that a large number of shoppers are all looking to buy things at the same time. With just a little extra effort, a reseller could boost their sales considerably, by taking advantage of the large influx of new and returning online shoppers expected this year.
For my business, it comes down to a numbers game. The more quality merchandise I can have up and ready to purchase for the fourth quarter, the more items I will sell, which means my revenue will also go up. Before summer is even over, I am listing everything I can that has a high potential of selling.
My employees are free to work as many hours as they wish each year towards the end of summer to help grow my inventory – prior to the start of fourth quarter. It will, hopefully, be all hands-on deck, once fourth quarter starts. With any luck, sales will be rolling in, and you will have to be ready to devote more time to packing and shipping items you have sold, as well as answering buyers’ questions.
You may be limited in sourcing, due to the weather this time of year in much of the country. Up here in the north, where I live, sourcing can almost be nonexistent in fourth quarter, due to winter weather. And when there are sourcing opportunities, the prices are usually drastically higher, due to supply and demand this time of the year. So, I always try to source as much as I can in spring and summer, and avoid buying in the winter months, when everything costs more.
I have also learned from past fourth-quarter experiences that waiting to the last minute to start listing your items is not a good idea, either. Many online shoppers tend to purchase items far in advance, in anticipation of longer shipping times, or potential items on their shopping list being out of stock, later on in the season. Smart shoppers also know that if you shop early, the prices are usually lower.
If you are waiting until fourth quarter to start increasing your listings, you may have already missed the boat for those early shoppers trying to save a few dollars. So, planning ahead is always essential for reselling, just as much as it is in any other industry.
Holidays are not random events, after all, and we have a full year to prepare for them. Making sure you are ready and waiting for any potential buyer that may want what you have is not hard, but will take some extra effort from you. A few extra hours spent a week to list more items, to increase your inventory totals, can have a huge impact on your revenue and growth during fourth quarter.
Once you have gone through one fourth quarter, you can use that information to help you be prepared for next year’s. I always use my prior year’s numbers and results to help setup my plan for the current year.
If you are new and have not been through a fourth quarter as a reseller, my best suggestion would be to list as much merchandise as you can by the beginning of October. If you do not have it up, you cannot sell it, and that could hurt your potential sales on the most crucial season of the year.