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How to Jumpstart Your Holiday Preparations [Free Checklist Included]

By Reading Time: 5 minutes

September’s almost here, and you know what that means? It’s less than four months until Christmas, and even less until the biggest shopping days of the year – Black Friday and Cyber Monday! To some, this may seem like a lot of time, but for all business owners, this is when you need to start preparing to ensure smooth sailing over the upcoming holidays.

This is the time to come up with your strategy. How will you promote your brand? What deals will you offer? What are your deadlines? There is a lot of work to be done, and we’re here to help! In this post, we’ll outline some of the key things to keep track of, and what you should be doing to leverage them.

SparkNotes version: the big event you need to be prepared for is Black Friday and Cyber MondayThe Friday after Thanksgiving has become the biggest shopping day during the holiday season – in 2017, Black Friday alone brought U.S. retailers a record of 7.9 billion dollars. And with Cyber Monday slowly but steadily catching up to Black Friday, this year is expected to result in even more sales and bigger numbers.

People expect great deals, and you need to be ready to provide. This is a great opportunity for you to showcase your product and offer incentive for buyers. You don’t even have to be limited to two days. Consider running deals throughout the entire week to maximize your sales.

September = prep work

Kevin McCalister knows the importance of a good plan

Now is the time when you sit down and figure out what your plan is for the next couple of months. You don’t want to suddenly realize at the end of October that you’ve missed your chance to properly promote your Black Friday and Cyber Monday deals. This will cost you a lot of money and a lot of sales.

Considering that worldwide retail ecommerce sales are estimated to reach 653 billion US dollars in 2018, you don’t want to miss out!

What you should be doing:

First things first, get your holiday shopping season checklist up and ready! Plan out your marketing campaigns and make sure they are consistent throughout the holidays. Mark down all the important deadlines and start planning out how to schedule your work so that everything gets done on time.

To have an accurate marketing plan, you need to know your order deadlines. Get in touch with your distributors and familiarize yourself with shipping times. What is the last day that customers can place their orders to have them arrive in time for the holidays? Once you know these deadlines, you can start to plan your marketing campaigns around them.

If you’re Printful user, make sure you visit our holiday order deadlines page

Decide on your holiday specials: What deals can you offer for Black Friday that people will go crazy for? Do you want to offer a Christmas special? Be it discounts, 2 for 1s, or free shipping, everyone loves a deal – 8 out of 10 consumers will shop online if offered free shipping! And now is the time to take advantage of that.

Don’t forget to take a look at your products, as well. Are there any holiday specials you might add to your store? Browse Printful’s selection, and see if there’s something you want to add before the holiday craze. If yes, September’s the right time to test out the products.

Do a bit of house cleaning and make sure that everything’s working smoothly and efficiently. Update your website, check your automatic emails, test your online store. A single second delay in your website loading time can result in a 7% loss in conversion.

You do not want this to happen, so check everything now! Make any necessary changes right away so you can avoid updating your site during the holiday season.

Set up the tech in your store: set up the popup software you’ll be using to offer your deals, cart recovery software to remind potential customers of the awesome deal they’ve left behind, or the retargeting pixel you’ve been meaning to implement so that you can turn a one-time visitor into a loyal buyer.

If you’re not sure about what to use, we suggest Nosto for “recently viewed items” and Mamaya for Facebook retargeting.

Pro tip: Try to make significant changes to your store sooner, rather than later. If something goes wrong, you’ll have time to fix it by the intense shopping season.

October = crunch time

What writing a subject line looks like

October is the time to buckle down and really start preparing for the holiday season. There are email campaigns to be set up, visuals to be prepared, and deadlines to be announced.

Now is not too early to take out paid Google advertising for your Black Friday and Cyber Monday deals because competition is lower. October is also the month of Canadian Thanksgiving and Halloween, so you can start your holiday season early and offer sales for these events as well.

What you should be doing:

Start writing those email campaigns: As you will tell from the holiday prep checklist, there are many emails that should be sent out over the next couple of months. You should write them all now to make sure that they cover all necessary steps and deadlines.

Emails drive more sales than social media, so you want to make sure that they are catchy and well written. You don’t want to risk rushing through them and forgetting something important. Also, writing them in advance will help you keep your voice and tone consistent.

Here are some ideas for emails:

  • announcing (and then reminding) your subscribers about your store’s order deadlines
  • spreading the word about your Black Friday-Cyber Monday deals
  • reminding your subscribers that the deals are about to end

And if you aren’t sure how to go about writing your marketing emails, keep an eye on our blog – we have a few posts in store that you might find particularly useful.

You also need to prepare your visuals: Make your deals and your deadlines stand out in your emails, blogs and websites by creating different visuals for them. You can announce deadlines in email headers, or discounts in social media cover photos. You want them to be eye-catching, so prepare them now! And this means organising photoshoots, or spending some time with a photo editing software.

October’s the time to announce order deadlines. Remind people that the holiday season is approaching and that they already need to start thinking about buying. Nobody actually likes last-minute shopping, so advise them to avoid the stress they felt last year by getting a head-start and placing their orders now.

November = go time

Time for the big reveal

Now things get serious. Those email marketing campaigns you wrote last month? Yeah, now is the time to send them out. Don’t worry about overloading your subscribers with emails because most people don’t mind receiving emails from brands they trust. They would be more upset about missing out on a great deal or order deadline.

What you should be doing:

Schedule your emails about all your holiday deals. Having a crazy Black Friday and Cyber Monday sale? Make sure you schedule emails to announce it, to remind your subscribers about it, and then to let them know it’s about to end! People are so busy these days, that they will appreciate the reminders – especially procrastinators who leave everything to the last minute!

Schedule all your order deadline emails. Deadlines for orders are fast approaching, and you need to make sure that your customers know when it’s the last moment for them to order.

Pro tip: Segment your customers based on their location and only inform them of their specific deadline. For example, customers in Europe should only receive an email reminder about the European order deadlines.

Make sure you have recovered cart emails set up. Don’t miss out on the opportunity to cash in by reminding visitors of their abandoned cart. There are many apps out there specifically designed for this.

Your free holiday prep checklist – start now to reap the benefits

As you can see, there is a lot to do in the months to come, so we recommend that you start now! Do all your prep work, set up a plan, make sure to follow through with it, and reap the benefits.

We want to ensure that you have all the knowledge necessary to manage a smooth holiday season. For that reason, we’ve put together a content marketing checklist that is specifically designed to help ecommerce store owners prepare for the holiday months. Grab a copy for yourself, print it out, and add notes to make it work for your store and your marketing strategy.

You’re off to a great start! Be sure to check in with us once in a while – we’ll be posting more holiday marketing essentials and goodies to help you along.

Get Your Holiday Prep Checklist

Subscribe to our blog and get a free holiday prep checklist to help you get ready for the biggest shopping season yet.

  1. Adrian Velazquez

    I think this info is extreemly valuable for any online store that has already garnered a following and has had some type of positive success. In my case, however; I thought maybe these steps are a little premature as my business is still VERY young and I have’nt really gained a firm footing with my niche or target audience. I think my best would be to focus on continuing to crank out products and reaching out to my audience to gain that buzz, and then focusing on those elements that I can use to target my loyal consumer base.
    Awesome article…. Keep up the good work!

    1. Brier

      Great reply, Adrian. I would love to hear Printful response to this reply. How would the steps in the article change for new shops? Thanks

    2. Nora Inveiss

      Good point! If your store is just starting out, you might have different priorities. I do think this advice applies to younger stores though. Now’s a great time to attract buzz with existing and new customers – people are looking for great deal and gift ideas. If you’re still working on your niche and target audience, I think the tips in this blog would work great with your existing base.

      Good luck!!

  2. Vivek Dubey

    Usually, I never comment on blogs but your article convinced me to comment on it as is written so well. And telling someone how awesome they are is essential so that on my part I convince you to write more often. You’re doing a great job, Keep it up.

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