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Mon Aug 22 2011 22:24:19

Are You Ready for the Holiday Shopping Season?

By: Ina Steiner

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If you're not yet ready for the holiday shopping season, you're in trouble, according to a panel of retailers at the recent Etail East conference moderated by Michael Hayward, CEO of ROI Labs. And while small sellers may have more flexibility than their larger counterparts, it's a good reminder to make sure that you're ready now for the busy holiday shopping season ahead.

Source Inventory
You won't have holiday sales if you don't have inventory! Tad Martin of Cross Commerce Media, said when he worked at, he would meet with suppliers months before the holiday shopping season. For example, he would have to make a commitment to Godiva in May and wouldn't be able to get additional product beyond his spring order.

Plan Your Marketing Campaign
Plan your promotions, including email marketing and website design. All of the panelists agreed testing was important, though they disagreed whether retailers should test during the busy holiday shopping season.

Michael Merhab, Vice President of Ecommerce of CBS Interactive - CBS Sports, said he would have his holiday plan in place by mid-year. In fact, he starts planning by pulling analytics in December, begins formulating his plan in January, and runs test in May and June. The first email goes out to customers in September as a loyalty preview.

Jay Greenberg, Director of Ecommerce Marketing at Bed Bath & Beyond, told the audience he knows what the home page of his company's website will look like each day during December. He can still make changes throughout the month, but he can rest easy now knowing he has his bases covered.

Greenberg also said it's important to prepare your call center and customer service staff and said merchants can use them as a sales tool to increase order size. Udayan Bose, founder and CEO of NetElixir, which helps retailers acquire customers online, said it's important to have a "Plan B" in place.

When the conversation turned to promotions, everyone agreed free shipping resonated with customers. Greenberg said it was his go-to promotion. Merhab said free shipping "smoked" 20% off orders, even when the math would suggest otherwise. For example, an offer for a $65 item with free shipping would do better than 20% off, when in reality the $4.95 in shipping & handling was less than the $13 savings in a 20% off promotion.

Halloween decorations are already making their appearance at retail stores, and Christmas decorations will be here before you know it. Are you ready for the holiday shopping season? Take a quick survey and let us know, and we'll publish the results in a future issue!

Comments (10) | Permalink

Readers Comments

Are You Ready for the Holiday Shopping Season?   Are You Ready for the Holiday Shopping Season?

by: Addy Alto
Web Site

Tue Aug 23 02:24:19 2011

Dear Ina,

You are timing it well, since indeed the shopping season should be in the planning stages for the companies already.

However, stocking up might not be the best approach. When the goods you're selling are costly, you might benefit more from a flexible supply chain: make sure you have fast access to the parts and the production process.
This way, you don't risk ending up with too much stock and you will have the ability to decide where your capital is going to until the last moment: more production or more marketing?

As always, I have enjoyed reading your blog.


Are You Ready for the Holiday Shopping Season?   Are You Ready for the Holiday Shopping Season?

by: Customer Service A Sales Tool?

Tue Aug 23 06:51:21 2011

With advice like ''Use call center and customer service staff as a sales tool to increase order size'' the  article should be called ''How to use and manipulate customers into buying your product'' Corporate America and large companies have to rely on useless analytics, charts and schemes to sell their products because all they see is dollars, not the customer. NOWHERE in this article is their any mention of providing the customer with a quality product or any indication of concern with customer satisfaction.

Individuals and small sellers as a whole have, by a factor of 10 far more inventory than all the companies and corporations combined. Individual sellers can provide a better product at a lower price. Individual sellers have a lower operating cost and can provide far better customer service than any company or corporation. When ebay catered to the individual they made billions, their stock reached $60, billions more were pumped into the economy generating wealth and disposable income that was used to buy company and corporate products. Large companies and corporations saw all this money and wanted it all, they could not compete with small individual sellers and squeezed them out. Now everyone is finding it hard to make a buck and the economy is going down the tube.

The first site that comes along and caters once again to the individual seller and ADVERTISES will tap into a virtually unlimited resource. eBid a site with a stellar reputation and the infrastructure is in a position to become bigger than ebay ever hoped to be virtually overnight just by running a few TV commercials but they won't advertise. There are other sites that could fill the void left by ebay almost immediately but they won't advertise.

It's not there are no sites to sell on but not enough buyers and sellers know about them. ADVERTISE then everyone's problem is solved. There are millions of users just one click away but they need to know about you. ADVERTISE.

Sooner or later it is going to happen and it will be the first site that advertises that wins the Goose that lays the Golden eggs under the money tree.

Are You Ready for the Holiday Shopping Season?   Are You Ready for the Holiday Shopping Season?

by: Rich

Tue Aug 23 09:30:03 2011

The answer to Are you ready for holiday season would be absolutely not.  It's August.  Enjoy life. Worrying about holidays 4 months away is a bit panicky.  Like do ir die.  This idea of talking about holidays and Ebay sending messages about being ready for holidays makes zero sense.  Enjoy the summer and worry about the holidays in November.

Are You Ready for the Holiday Shopping Season?   Are You Ready for the Holiday Shopping Season?

by: anyone out there

Tue Aug 23 11:04:15 2011

I don't do anything different for the holiday season than I do anyother time of the year. Each day is the same just a different date.

I don't obsess over it like most of the BM stores do. If I sell I sell if not there is always tomorrow.

I enjoy life. Don't need all that worrying that you can't do a thing about anyways.

With the economy the way it is it will probably be a waste anyway.

Are You Ready for the Holiday Shopping Season?   Are You Ready for the Holiday Shopping Season?

by: Ed

Tue Aug 23 11:04:57 2011

If you wait until November to plan your holiday sales, you will have missed a lot of potential orders.(50% or more)
I started in June and hope to finish listings by Mid October the latest.
Good luck to all.

Are You Ready for the Holiday Shopping Season?   Are You Ready for the Holiday Shopping Season?

This user has validated their user name. by: Ming the Merciless

Tue Aug 23 14:55:03 2011

In the post apocalyptic Ho era, only a relative handful of ebay sellers do well during the holidays -- the big box Diamonds and preferred toys and electronics sellers.

The rest of us are relegated to the 10 item per search page maximum by ebay's manipulated search system.

With the glut of holiday listings, most ebay sellers have little chance of even an above average holiday season regardless of superb customer service or quality product.

Most ebay sellers are trying to sell against a stacked deck in a rigged game.

Order more shipping supplies. At least if they're not used in the 4th quarter, they eventually will be unless ebafia puts you out of business for secret reasons.


Ebay's typically misleading and manipulative information continues.

In an email to sellers about upcoming changes, ebay implies that 14 day return policies should be in effect for the holiday season.

Read the email carefully. The required change doesn't actually take effect until sometime early next year. Of course, ebafia wants sellers to create a stampede changing their return policies now for ebay's benefit, certainly not most sellers.

Brought to you by more sleazeball MBAs.

Are You Ready for the Holiday Shopping Season?   Are You Ready for the Holiday Shopping Season?

by: LadyElizabeth

Tue Aug 23 19:42:37 2011

Sad...I can remember when there wasn't a hint of Christmas, until after Thanksgiving.

Are You Ready for the Holiday Shopping Season?   Are You Ready for the Holiday Shopping Season?

by: Barb

Wed Aug 24 07:39:00 2011

@Ed "you will have missed a lot of potential orders.(50% or more)" I totally agree, it's best to start right away and get those potential orders.

Are You Ready for the Holiday Shopping Season?   Are You Ready for the Holiday Shopping Season?

by: Majerle

Wed Aug 24 07:40:59 2011

@ed i agree when you say not to wait. It's best to start right away and not wait, you might get those 50% potential orders

Are You Ready for the Holiday Shopping Season?   Are You Ready for the Holiday Shopping Season?

by: buck efay

Wed Aug 24 13:46:06 2011

I've been preparing all summer. Nice thing about Amazon, your listing is there once you create it. Summer is slow for selling, good for buying, so I load my pages full & then run a race the last 2 months filling the orders. Last year was my first Christmas season on Amazon & half the stock I have lited now. Hope I can keep up with the orders last year was a real challenge.

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