The fourth quarter is here and for ecommerce businesses that means one thing - it's time to get ready for the huge influx of holiday orders! The last few months of the year typically see a massive jump in sales as customers buy gifts for Christmas, Hanukkah, and other winter holidays. Are you prepared to handle the increase in orders and make the most of this busy sales season?
In this week's Print on Demand podcast, hosts Travis and Josiah dive into tips and strategies to make sure your print-on-demand business is set up for success this holiday season. With years of experience running their own POD companies, they cover key areas you need to address now before the holiday order rush hits.
Overview of the Point Of Interest
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Overview of the Main Event
Set Up Efficient Order Processing Systems
One of the biggest potential bottlenecks for print-on-demand sellers is order processing. When you suddenly get 5-10 times your normal daily order volume, your current systems may not be sufficient. Travis emphasizes the importance of setting up streamlined order processing workflows now, before November and December hit.
For example, if you offer customization or personalization, how is that art collected and the orders processed? Can your current process handle a huge uptick in volume? If not, now is the time to figure out more efficient systems. You may need to automate certain steps or even hire temporary help. The holidays are a bad time to realize your order processing method isn't scalable. Get it right now when you have time to test and tweak.
Review Your Pricing
Another key area to examine is your pricing. Are your product prices adequately covering your costs and accounting for recent increases in expenses? Travis notes that many fulfillment partners have recently raised their base pricing. Make sure you get updated rates from any suppliers you use. Also factor in higher shipping costs with USPS and other carriers.
In addition, remember that customers tend to be less price-sensitive during the holidays. They are rushing to grab gifts and may not compare shop multiple sites. Josiah suggests considering modest price increases on your products now, knowing that holiday shoppers likely won't balk. Just don't get greedy - keep any increases reasonable. The boost in profit per order can really add up.
Analyze Sales Data From Last Year
If you've been selling print-on-demand products for a while, you have a great asset - sales data from last holiday season! Take time now to analyze what products sold particularly well last Q4. Were there certain designs, items, or colors that far outpaced others?
Use this information to better forecast demand and prepare your inventory for this year. For example, if red mugs were your top seller, make sure you stock up on an adequate supply of red mugs well in advance. If a particular t-shirt design sold like hotcakes, get it posted on more products like ornaments and posters to maximize sales. Let your prior sales data guide your planning.
Stock Up On Supplies
Speaking of inventory, November and December are bad times to unexpectedly run out of key supplies and materials. For sellers fulfilling their own orders, Josiah stresses the importance of stocking up now on things like t-shirts, mugs, transfer paper, packaging materials, and anything else you rely on.
He recommends using kanban cards or another tracking method to monitor supply levels and know when to reorder. You want to avoid those panicked calls to friends to borrow their extra blank mugs or bubble wrap rolls. Build in redundancies wherever possible. Having backup suppliers and contingency plans makes a huge difference during the holiday crunch when every day counts.
Have a Backup Supplier Ready
Even sellers using drop shipping need a plan in place for inventory shortages. Travis points out that popular items like Next Level 3600 blank shirts often sell out quickly during peak season. If your main print provider suddenly runs out of a hot product, what will you do? Scrambling to set up a new supplier relationship right when you desperately need to restock is a nightmare scenario.
Instead, take time now to register accounts and understand the ordering processes for backup suppliers like Printful, Scalable Press, Printify, etc. Make sure your pricing and margins still work with the alternate supplier. Identify which partner you will use to restock each of your top selling items if needed. Then if your main vendor sells out, you can seamlessly shift some volume to your backup to avoid missing sales.
Maximize Your Assets
Once you identify your top selling designs from last year, look for ways to maximize the value of these proven assets. Rather than just offering them on t-shirts again, Josiah suggests branching out to other products. For example, could your holiday designs also work for ornaments, coffee mugs, tote bags or canvas wall art?
You've already paid a designer for the initial artwork, so putting it on additional products is pure profit. Holiday shoppers love themed merchandise, so don't leave potential sales on the table. Expanding your product selection also helps you appeal to more customers with different gift needs.
Consider Amazon FBA and Walmart Fulfillment
For your very top selling designs, Travis recommends exploring Fulfillment by Amazon or Walmart Fulfillment Services. Having some inventory already produced and stocked in their warehouses can help you handle last-minute holiday orders.
When products are pre-made and sitting in Amazon's fulfillment centers, they can be shipped out immediately. This gives you leeway to accept rush orders in the days right before Christmas when customers expect fast shipping. Just don't go overboard pre-stocking or you can get stuck with excess inventory. Start small with your proven sellers and test the waters.
Get Your Taxes and Finances in Order
With all the emphasis on holiday sales, it's easy to overlook your business finances. But Josiah points out that Q4 is also the time to make sure your books are in order and talk tax planning with your CPA. You want to have clarity on your expenses, costs of goods sold, and other tax deductions before the end of the year.
A few smart business purchases like new equipment or funding retirement accounts can help reduce your tax bill. But you need to act soon to take full advantage of these savings for the current tax year. Don't let your CPA meeting get lost in the holiday rush. A little planning now can save you a lot down the road.
Stay Proactive to Minimize Stress
In the end, Travis and Josiah emphasize being proactive about planning for Q4. Addressing these key areas now prevents you from feeling overwhelmed when peak season hits. No seller wants to scramble to find backup suppliers, stock more inventory, or ramp up order processing in the middle of heavy sales.
Getting your print-on-demand business ready for the holidays does take some work. But maintaining profit margins, keeping customers happy, and staying sane during the busiest sales season makes it well worth the effort. Follow the tips in this guide and you'll be set up for a successful - and less stressful - Q4!