Podcast

Episode 75: Holiday Planning Time

On today’s episode, I discuss why you need to start planning for the holidays. It is easy to fall into the trap of assuming you have enough, and then underestimating your demand. A lack of inventory means a loss of sales. Don’t let it happen!

Here’s what I cover today:

  • Our Ecom Crew courses.
  • The ideal time frame to order standard inventory.
  • The ideal time frame to order a new product.
  • The process you need to go through to get ready for the holidays.
  • Color It’s upcoming 12 Days of Christmas promotion.
  • Color It’s upcoming 8 Days of Hanukkah promotion.
  • Why we start our holiday promoting in October.
  • Why overestimating your inventory needs is a good thing.
  • Why you should be prepared for Chinese New Year.

We will be launching some Ecom Crew courses in August. If you are interested check out the link at www.ecomcrew.com/course. We will be doing these courses with Dave Bryant, so sign up at the link and we’ll send you more information later.

This episode is sponsored by Stamped.io. We have recently switched to Stamped.io, so we can get the most out of our reviews, and they have a really great product. We are proud to partner with them and there is a link below to check them out.

We also do live episodes on Facebook, but there won’t be a live episode for a couple of weeks. We do have some pre-recorded episodes done for you. To get in on the live episodes, just like our Facebook page.

Resources Mentioned Today:

Color It

Icewraps.com

The 12 Days of Christmas Promotion 2016

Ecom Crew’s Facebook Page

Stamped.io

If you have any questions or anything you’d like us to discuss on the podcast you can now email us directly at ecomcrew.com!  Just send those emails to [email protected]. Also, we would really appreciate if you would leave us a review on iTunes. Thanks for listening!

Full Audio Transcript

Mike: Hi this is Mike, and welcome to EcomCrew, episode number 75. Thanks for joining me. It’s going to be a pretty funny topic today considering it’s 100 degrees here in Escondido, California where I live and work. And we’re going to be talking about holiday planning, which makes me think of snowing cold, although obviously we don’t get a lot of snow and cold here in Escondido. But probably now at the forefront of everybody else’s mind, you’re probably preparing for 4th of July weekend and preparing for a barbecue or going on vacation. I know I’m getting ready to go on vacation and it’s hard to be thinking about the holidays. And it doesn’t really seem like it’s that close but it is.

So that’s the big topic for today. A couple of things before I get into it. I just want to want to mention as I have the last few weeks, the Ecomcrew Podcast is now sponsored by Stamped.io, that’s Stamped.io, not .com, but .io. They have a great review platform for Shopify that we’re now using on all of our Shopify stores, and will continue to use as we launch our new brands. As I mentioned last week, we just launched Instagram curation with them, which was really cool. So we have shoppable Instagram on our site now for the first time ever. And that’s pretty neat and we get some user generated content on our site which is really cool. So definitely check them out if you are on Shopify, they’re really cool, and their support is awesome.

The other thing I want to mention is go to Ecomcrew.com/course. We have a little bit of a trick up our sleeve we’ve been working on. Some course is behind the scenes and we’re hoping that we’re going to get our first course launched here in August sometime. And if you go to ecomcrew.com/course and sign up over there you’ll get notified as soon as we launch it. I’m actually going to be working on this with Dave Bryant who’s been our guest on the podcast a couple of times. And Dave and I are going to be recording. On Monday I have a special announcement about the course and just kind of future direction of Ecomcrew which is really exciting. So definitely stay tuned for next week’s episode. It’ll definitely be a kind of bomb shell type episode. That’s my way of getting you to tune in for next week.

So with that, let’s get in to this week’s topic. Like I said, it’s going to be on holiday planning. And like I said, you probably think I’m nuts just talking about holiday planning. We’re recording this episode on June 27th and it’s going to come out on June 29th, so let’s just say it’s the beginning of July. But the reality is that it doesn’t take long for the holidays to be here. If you start backing things out and thinking about how the holidays kind of work, you need to have your stuff here, really no later than September, early October at the very latest.

Amazon has cut off dates to get stuff into their warehouse by Black Friday and you don’t want to be late for that stuff. You certainly don’t want to be scrambling at the last second; poor congestion, everything just starts to back up. So if you back up, the average thing takes about two to three months to get here for us. From the date that we place an order on average it takes about 90 days. This is for a product that we already have in the pipeline, right? So if it’s a new product, which I’m going to talk about here in a little bit, it takes much longer than that. But if you back out 90 days, if you want it here by October 1st let’s say, so it can be landed here, going into Amazon and getting checked in, it really needs to be here by October 1st. So you back out the month of September, the month of August, and the month of July. And guess what, it’s already July 1st. You really need to be placing those orders now, if you want to get them here in time.

Again, it’s usually 60 days by the time we order the products, get the wire transfer sent to the manufacturer, they get the money, a 30% deposit, they order materials, they start working on it. We do an inspection and almost every single time it seems like the inspection fails. They have to go back and fix things and they have to get it in the container and get it on the boat and get it over here. Quite often it can take 90 days. I mean we try to have it happen in a less time but the reality is, is that you really need 90 days to plan for that.

Now let’s talk about something, like if let’s say it’s a new product that you’re hoping to have selling for the holidays. You really, really need to be ordering that like right now. Like stop what you’re doing kind of thing, and get on the phone with that manufacturer. If there’s anything that you want that’s a new item that you want for the holidays, you need to get that thing in here. It’s going to take much longer for a new product to get it up and running. When we have an existing product the most complicated thing we have to do is stick a label on the box and get it into Amazon. If it’s a new product, you have Amazon listing to create. If you’re selling on your own store like we do, you have your store listing to create which includes the product photography. If you are like we are, you want high quality product photography. That stuff takes a long time to create. Get your keyword research done, start getting some PPC done, get some initial sales and reviews. I mean you don’t want to put a brand new product up and have zero reviews in November when you are waiting to go into Black Friday. That’s just not what you want. You need to have the initial five to ten reviews. So you really need to be thinking about the holidays now and that’s really the whole purpose of this episode. Depending on the industry that you’re in, the holidays may or may not be the time of the year that breaks you. For us, for ColorIt specifically, it is definitely our biggest time in the year is November and December. And the rest of this episode, I’ll be talking about a lot of the strategies we took to leverage that.

Some of our brands, it’s not a big deal. Like IceWraps for instance is not really a holiday brand which is one of the reasons we wanted that brand is because in the summertime it’s stronger than it is in the winter time. So it helps normalize our year and kind of spread that out. Our new brands that we’re working on, Wild Baby, we expect that to be a big time holiday brand. I mean what better time to buy baby gifts than around Christmas time, right?

So we have things like our new balance bikes and our clothing, and some toys that we’ve done. I expect these to be really strong items this Christmas. We have only a small amount of data. Last year we had one skew which was our bikes up and running and they did well but we had the same problem I was just kind of talking about. We didn’t have any reviews on them, and it was awful. And it’s just the way the timing worked. We just didn’t plan well enough last year as well as we did plan because it was kind of our second big Christmas. We still didn’t plan well enough to have those in and have reviews. And I think we could have had a much better Christmas.

So this year we’ve actually already ordered our Christmas stock for that product, just knowing that it’s probably going to be a good seller. And now we have a bunch of reviews on that product and it’s a four and a half star product. It really is a five star product but some knucklehead left us a three star review because they said their seat was ripped when it showed up, which most likely was someone from Amazon, made a return, and Amazon sold it as new, which drives me crazy. But yeah, I mean if you don’t place these orders now and get the products in, you’re just not going to have them in time for the holidays.

So the other thing that we’ve been thinking about, as I mentioned for ColorIt, is that Christmas time was a really big time of the year for us. And one of the things that we did is we did a Christmas lead magnet and it did phenomenally well. I’m sure if you go back and listen to our Christmas podcast from last year, or just some of the things that we did, it was the 12 days of Christmas promotion that we did. And I think it’s up on ColorIt.com/Christmas. I think that URL just kind of still lives there.

But based on the success that we had last year, we’re going to do it again this year but like triple down on it. So we’re going to have a three-pronged approach this year, not just a single pronged approach. It’s actually really a four-pronged approach. So let me kind of go over the holiday planning we’ve done, are doing for that. And this stuff takes time for us because we’re doing all original hand drawn work. So art, we can’t just ask an artist on September 1st to start making 72 Christmas drawings, and hope to have it done in time. We need to be planning this now. So we already are working with our artist to get this done. So part one of it is going to be 12 new, 12 days of Christmas drawings. So you can download these 12 drawings; we’ll have 12 new drawings. And we’ll run Facebook ads to it and be very aggressive. Last year, this was the best performing campaign that we did all year. Even during a time when most ads are really expensive people just kind of get in the Christmas mood and we’re offering them free Christmas drawings. They hop on it like wild fire.

So we’re going to do that 12 days of Christmas thing again. And we don’t deliver all 12 drawings at one time. If you remember, if you guys have listened to that episode before, we drip that out over 24 days. So every other day we send them a Christmas drawing. So we get an opportunity right there to email them 12 times. And then the every other day in between that when we’re not sending them a drawing, we’re sending them something else about ColorIt.

So now we’ve emailed them 24 times. And then on top of that, we’re going to do a 12 days of Christmas promotion again in December. So December 1st through 12th, we will be emailing our entire list about our 12 days of Christmas promotion. It will be a flash sale day, every day the first 12 days of December. And then of course we’re going to run a Black Friday, Cyber Monday sale. We’ll just let that run all weekend. It’ll be just a persistent 15% off offer.

But we’ll be advertising that to all the people that we plan on getting on our list, starting probably around October 15th will be when we’ll start advertising the 12 days of Christmas drawings. And that’s a little bit early, but the reason we’re going to do that is, we’re going to advertise it to our list first. And we’ll get a bunch of user generated content in between like October 15th and November 1st.

So when we really start launching it full steam ahead, which will just basically be right after Halloween, we’ll go full steam ahead. Because I think early November, still people are kind of like now shifted into the Thanksgiving/ Christmas mood now. We’ll start advertising a video that will have all the user generated content in it. And I know that that’s going to perform way better than anything else. So we can do just based off of what we did last year.

So we’ll start out with the 12 days of Christmas free downloadable drawings. And then we’re going to offer them 10 sheets of paper, like our ten sample drawings that we do. Then we’ll mail them for free. So they can then experience our paper and our printing process and everything, and get that stuff in their hands. So basically we’re just going to have a secondary 10 sample drawing packet that we normally have throughout the year, but it will be Christmas drawings. And then we’ll do a one click up-sell on that offer to a 50 page Christmas book.

So we’re going to launch a 50 page Christmas book this year, and we’ll advertise all three things… all three of these things in conjunction with each other. And I think it’s going to just do phenomenally well. But again we’re thinking about this in the beginning of July, and not thinking about it when the cup has already hit the fan. So the other thing we’re going to be doing that I think is important is offering a Hanukkah promotion as well. I don’t want to leave out our Jewish friends.

So we’ll be doing an eight days of Hanukkah promotion. And luckily this year for us that kind of falls on a good day. I forgot the exact day that Hanukkah falls this year. But it doesn’t really conflict with our other promotions. So we’ll be promoting eight days of Hanukkah promotion, and probably promote that to a list of female Jewish community that’s on Facebook. I think that might be another good advertising audience as well. And that will basically be our ColorIt promotion for that.

So again this one is going to be one of these shorter podcast episodes, because some of these topics, there is not too much to say about it, and I don’t like beating a horse to death. But the real thing is that hopefully as you’re driving down the road in your car, or listening to this while you’re on your treadmill or on the bus. Wherever it is, I always tend to fantasize on how people are listening to the podcast. Falling asleep at night, probably most likely. You really need to put this thing on your radar. Be thinking about the holidays, and hopefully this will be the thing that kind of jolts you into being like “you know what, Mike is right. This is something I need to start thinking about right now before it’s too late”. And really if you get started here in July, and get your orders placed and start getting whatever you need to get done, done, and start your forecasting and look back at last year and see how inventory sold through, you’ll be in fine shape. But just don’t wait.

The other thing that I can say that I recommend is overestimate; don’t underestimate your inventory purchases. We’ve gotten confident now that the Christmas holidays are going to do well for us. And I’d rather have too much inventory than not enough. Because you have to also think about, after the holidays, it’s Chinese New Year. So it’s hard to get more stock in right after the holidays.

So as a two-pronged approach to this, it’s a little bit too early to be thinking about your post holiday order. But we get another order in throughout the holidays. Like in November let’s say, because they don’t celebrate these holidays over in Asia. But around November time frame or late October timeframe, we are already placing our order that we need to arrive in January. Because after the first week of January, China just shuts down, completely shuts down. I’ll probably have another podcast episode about this, or a reminder to place your Chinese New Year orders now.

But it’s something to be thinking about, just forecasting out. What is my holiday order for the United States going to look like? And then I need to make sure that I have inventory to sell after the holidays. So what is my Chinese New Year order going to look like? And be thinking about those two things now, earlier in the year. So that’s really it for this episode. Hopefully again, it gets you guys thinking about getting your new year’s orders placed, or Chinese New Year’s order placed and your holiday order placed.

Just a reminder again, if you go to ecomcrew.com/course, we’d love to see you over there. Sign up, we’re not going to spam you or anything. It’s just we’ll send you one email when we announce our course. We’re going to kind of keep it under wraps, keep it secret what we’re going to be doing. But we do have multiple courses coming out this year with the help of Dave Bryant like I said. We also have a new email address. If you want to get ahold of us, we have [email protected].

Now you can finally get ahold of us over at Ecomcrew. So [email protected], and of course go our Facebook.com/ecomcrew. And you can like us over there, and anytime we go live you’ll know it. So that’s really about it. I appreciate you guys listening this week. Next week we’ll be back, it will be the Monday before July 4th.

Just probably you didn’t know, I am going to be going on vacation, July 4th through I think it’s the 19th. Pretty epic vacation, I’m really looking forward to it going up to Alaska for a backpacking trip/just vacation. So the first week I’m going up there with my cousin, and we’re going to be doing some pretty epic hiking. I’ve been doing a lot of training over the last couple of months really.

Just every weekend I’ve been out hiking mostly each week. And I’ve been going out Friday, Saturday and Sunday on 10 to 20 or 25 mile hikes. And just getting my body in shape to handle… having all this weight. And now I’m going to be getting the pay off, and getting ready to go up to Alaska and enjoy all the hard efforts. So I’m really looking forward to that.

But I will be off. I won’t be able to record a podcast episode. So we won’t have any Facebook lives those couple of weeks. But we will have episodes recorded, we’ve already actually got them ready to go, and the topics ready to go. So episodes will be recorded and ready to go for the Thursdays that I’m out, and we just won’t have live. So just be aware of that, no Facebook Live for a couple of weeks. And that’s it guys. So I appreciate you guys listening, and have a great week. And I will talk to you next Monday if you are in the live show, or next Thursday if you listen in the call. Thanks so much.

Outro: If you have any questions or comments, we’d love to hear from you. Head over to EcomCrew.com and sign up for the EcomCrew newsletter to get regular updates on what’s working in ecommerce today, and get the latest from our blog. If you haven’t already, we’d really appreciate an honest review in iTunes. These reviews help us make sure we’re delivering exactly the content you need to be successful. And make sure you subscribe to the show for more tips to move you up in the business ladder and into success. We’ll see you next week.

Mike and Grant

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2 Comments

  • Reply
    Vinh
    July 23, 2017 at 10:48 pm

    This article gave me a lot of useful information.

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