The holidays are just upon us, and every year I wrestle with the conflict between “should I keep my store open, or should I close it and take some time off?”. The last few years I have been faced with a mountain of paperwork that needed to be done at the end of the year, and I have had an office/studio/bedroom that looked like a herd of wildebeest had run through it.
Veteran sellers always said they took the time off at the holidays because they had worked so hard. That was back in the day when eBay was hot and they were selling collectibles. Those times have changed, and now everyone scrambles for every dollar they can get since online sales are not the least bit reliable.
Let’s look at the Pros and Cons of keeping your store open:
More income as people spend holiday money
The chance to get rid of more inventory
Clearance and holiday sales to spur buying
People are home during the holidays
You have to work during the holidays
People expect things delivered quickly
No time to spend with family
Gambling the income will be worth it
Personally, I prefer to take the time off and work towards making up the income difference along the next year. I am less stressed, and it gives me a chance to breakdown my art studio, clean and reorganize. I throw things to the side when I am packaging orders one right after the other, so it’s a real mess by the time I shut down. I do the same thing with my bookkeeping, too.
This year, I am shutting down the second week of December. This helps me avoid the stress of people asking where their package is and will it get to them by Christmas.
In the meantime, during my holiday, I am going to catch up on some of my reading!
Happy Holidays! Julie PS – Here are a few things on my reading list this year:
The holidays will be upon us before you know it, and then it will fly by as you run around filling orders and shipping them out. The key to the whole process is to make sure that you have all of your supplies together before the first rush of customers.
It doesn’t matter where you sell, if you do your own shipping, here are some things to check on right now before it gets too late or shipping prices go up:
Packing bubble wrap
Boxes in a variety of sizes
Paper for invoices
Toner/ink for printing
Thank you cards – if you do them
Tissues for packing
Plastic bags for items
This is the lull before the storm, so use this time to get prepared. I hope you have lots of sales!
Since we have a little bit of time left before the holiday shopping season gets into gear, it’s a good time to go over your website to ensure that you’re prepared for the holidays. You want your prospective customers to spend as much time as they can browsing your site, so here are some checkup ideas that you can do now in preparation for the shopping frenzy.
Website Speed The slower the speed, the less likely shoppers will stick around to browse your catalog. No matter where you host your site, your shop should be able to handle an uptick in shoppers for the holidays. That might mean that you have to rethink your hosting plan. Even the most professional sites can go down during a surge in traffic, so make sure that your plan is able to handle a lot of visitors.
If you host on sites like Shopify, you don’t have to worry about the traffic level; they are equipped to handle it for you, but you do need to make sure that your website speed is healthy.
Another point to consider before the holidays: back up your site to your hard drive in the unlikely event that something happens to the host during the holidays. You should always back up your site anyway, but it’s really important at this point during the year.
Mobile Optimization Those marketing people in the know anticipate that the 2022 shopping season will blow away all of the previous years’ shopping statistics. Of those new shoppers, at least 40% will be coming in from their phones. This includes both Black Friday and Cyber Monday, and most likely Small Business Saturday. There are billions of dollars’ worth of reasons to make sure your site is mobile friendly.
If your site is on Indiemade, Etsy, Shopify or any of the other big players, then you can be assured that the mobile optimization has already been done for you. If you are not on a big player, here are the steps you need to improve your mobile performance.:
Make sure you are using a responsive theme (these use percentages rather than hard pixel counts)
Make sure your site speed is fast
Get rid of pop-ups on your site
Keep the design simple
Use larger fonts
Make the checkout buttons bigger
Do not use Flash or other animations that can cover a phone screen – that includes web banners
Navigation You want your visitors to explore your website, so make navigation simple and easy for them. The catalog tree should spell everything out, or have category photos. You need to divide your categories in a logical manner.
All of your navigation texts or buttons should be clickable, and every image needs an ALT text for both SEO and for visually impaired individuals.
Make sure your search engine works on your site, and that is returns the expected results. Some search engine add-ons are very broad and return a large selection of unwanted results.
All of your section titles should be pertinent.
Easy Checkout The most important part of the checkout process is that the payment is secure. You will have secure checkout with any of the big ecommerce sites like Shopify, Etsy or Indiemade, but if you have built your own site, you may need to ensure that your payment processor and the checkout coding is secure.
If possible, add more than one checkout spot on a page. Places to add checkout buttons include at the top, and towards the bottom of the page description.
If you can, simplify the checkout process by reducing fields for the customer to fill out. Some payment sites allow for one button checkout like Paypal or Amazon. When you use these for payment processors, you can just add the buttons and the customer goes directly to their payment page.
You can add a guest checkout option where people do not have to create an account to shop from you. This is a good option, but it also means that the customer will have to fill out the information again if they come back to buy more. They still have to fill out the shipping information.
After you make improvements to your site, test it and test it again. Make sure that everything is working. Once you have your site ready for extra traffic, get your marketing plan together, so you can drive more sales to your new website.