The Entrepreneur Highway: You Survived the Holiday Sales

A brand new year has arrived and you and your online business are still here!

You’re a veteran of that important first year with its surprising ups and frustrating downs. A tried and true seller now with some great customer memories and plenty of firsthand experience creating listings and shipping domestic and international from coast to coast.

Now that you’ve successfully survived that first holiday selling season your status as an entrepreneur shines as brightly as any online corporation.

What a tale you have to tell the grandkids someday. Holiday sales coming in almost seven days a week. Single sales, multiple purchases, and appreciated repeat customers. You’ve logged on so many times you know that tricky PayPal password like it was your own name.

But achieving all those great sales and happy buyers didn’t just happen by accident. You worked long and hard to get your message out there by being organized and following a PST strategy. Plan, streamline, and track.

Plan ahead – submit your holiday stock order early enough to ensure having plenty of merchandise to offer buyers October through December.

Most suppliers are swamped during the final quarter of the year. By getting your order in by August or September you gain the advantage of having the products you want in stock as well as being packaged by relaxed, helpful employees instead of overworked half crazed zombies during the holiday rush.

Depending on the amount of prep work needed to make your merchandise ready for sale, receiving your holiday stock before October gives you plenty of time for photographing, creating website or e-market listings, and packaging items for calculated shipping.

Planning ahead gives you enough time to have your website festively decked out, and regular listings, discounted sales, and holiday parcel stuffers ready to go October 1st.

Streamline the prep work – with limited time and no helping hands, try to make listings as uniform as possible so it’s just a matter of dropping in new photos and updating a small amount of text. That way when one item sells a replacement listing can be posted to your site within a few hours.

Listing stock as multiples under one set of photos will save a lot of time and expense for items sold through an e-market. More time will be needed for unique merchandise that has to be listed individually. Having new product photos available for when a current listing sells makes turnaround time fast and easy.

Posting new unique listings as soon as they can be made ready ensures buyers have the widest selection of stock available throughout the holiday season.

Keeping buyers informed of shipping delivery schedules can save time replying to emails and help avoid disappointments if the parcel doesn’t arrive before December 24th. Offering a simple shipping selection of economy, tracking, and express gives buyer’s a choice for cost and transit time.

Track paperwork – up to date reports for inventory, costs and fees, current listings and sales, photo storage, and bookkeeping are an absolute must for staying in control of your business. Those running a one-person office have to be able to find answers almost immediately.

Create a photo storing system that works for you; when a listing sells you want that next set of photos for a replacement listing just a click away. Too many photos in a file can get confusing or hard to handle. Remove redundant photos to an ‘old’ folder and keep things simple by giving stock an ID name or number and then keep photos in corresponding files for quick access.

The more documentation you include with each listing or sale—text, photos, uploaded photos to hosting or website, selling price & cost fees, date listed, buyer sale acknowledgment and parcel shipped notices, and so on—the less chance of forgetting something vital. You’ll also be able to find answers in one place about an order instantly should something go wrong or need to be verified.

During the holiday selling rush there’s not always time to stop for lunch let alone stay on top of bookkeeping. However, the more information you enter into your accounting program the easier it is to find repeat buyers or issue refunds or credits. Keeping up to date with payables, receivables, and cash transfers means you spend less time reconciling accounts and get accurate numbers when printing off reports any time during the month.

Having your PST plan organized and in place before the year’s final quarter can make every holiday selling season more than just survivable. You’ll actually have time to enjoy your customers and share much more of the holidays with your family.

I’m an online entrepreneur. How about you?