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Holiday Sales Are Over, Now What?

Expert shares tips to get your 2012 selling plan in place.
Holiday Sales Are Over. Now What?

The New Year brings endless possibilities for your business and online sales. You could introduce new products, increase your marketing efforts and so on. But to really get the most out of the brand new year, you’ll need to have a game plan in place to score a “touchdown.”

We talked to one merchant who has more than 12 years of online selling experience to see what she does when January comes around, and what you might consider doing to get ready for the year ahead and make the most of 2012.

Organize your space and restock

The busy holiday selling season often leaves work spaces in disarray, notes Rebecca Miller, an eBay seller of more than 12 years.

“After the selling frenzy, my home office and desk look like war zones,” she admits.

Once you have a functioning workspace, go through your inventory to see what you have left from 2011

Miller, a Top-rated seller, says it can be difficult, if not impossible, to be efficient in such an environment.

“You can’t find anything,” she explains.

One of the first things Miller tackles at the start of every year is reorganizing and refreshing her workspace. She puts shipping supplies, tissue paper, shipping slips and other materials she used during the holidays back where they belong, so she she’ll know exactly where to find them when orders start to pick up again.

She also takes note of what supplies she’s running low on and needs to restock, such as packing tape, shipping boxes, shipping labels and packing peanuts. You use a lot of these when you ship during the holidays, she notes, and you’ll want to restock these early to prevent delays in your business practices.

Take inventory of your holiday leftovers

Once you have a functioning workspace, go through your inventory to see what you have left from 2011—not just leftovers from the holiday season that just passed, but products you picked up throughout the year, Miller says.

Taking inventory will help you identify what Christmas stock you have remaining that can be repurposed for other holidays, what can sell any time of year, what you should hold onto until the next holiday season and what you should donate to charity.

Assessing an item’s value and how seasonal it is will help you divide your leftovers, Miller notes. Those items that are very Christmasy, she says, should be tucked away for next Christmas if the products are from well-known brands and made of quality materials. They could fetch a good profit.

If items make good gifts in general—clothing or jewelry, for instance—and they’re not specific to one holiday, hold onto them until the next major gift-giving holiday, Miller suggests. Valentine’s Day is just around the corner, and buyers will be looking for things like perfumes and cologne, slippers, clothing, and more to treat their sweethearts.

As you sort your items, keep in mind other holidays throughout the year and the start of upcoming sports seasons. Fans start looking for apparel and equipment early on, Miller reminds us.

Holiday-centric items that aren’t made by well-known brands won’t usually bring much of a profit, Miller says, so you should probably just cut your losses and drop them off at a local thrift store to free up some space in your storage area. Plus, making a donation to a local charity leaves you feeling good—and with a tax deduction.January is a good time to review and update your buying and shipping policies

“Everyone’s happy,” Miller adds.

Pick up new inventory

Keep in mind that, right after Christmas, stores will also have a lot of items they didn’t sell, so hit at least a few of the clearance sales to see what new inventory you can find. And don’t be afraid to experiment with items you haven’t sold before. Many items are discounted up to 90 percent, meaning you could make a big profit, Miller notes. And if the items don’t sell, at least you haven’t invested too much in them.

Christmas clothing for babies, for instance, is often greatly discounted in January. So are holiday dresses and apparel that reads “Baby’s first Christmas.” These are good finds and will sell well at the end of the year. So will other gift items that aren’t so Christmas-centric, like perfume gift sets. Just be sure that you have a place to store whatever you buy, Miller notes.

But don’t go in thinking that everything you buy at a discounted rate will sell, Miller warns. She once bought six blue satin Hannah Montana stockings decorated with sequins and crystals that were originally $30, on sale for 90 cents apiece.

“I was thinking ‘My daughter likes Hannah Montana, all of her friends like Hannah Montana, this is a great buy!'” she recalls.

But by the time the next Christmas came around and she listed the stockings for $18, Hannah Montana was passé. Luckily, she was only out a few bucks.

Review policies, and round up receipts

Finally, January is a good time to review and update any buying and shipping policies you have noted on your site or listings. You’ll also want to start tracking down receipts from the previous year to get ready for tax season. April 15 will be here before you know it.

“If you’re an organized person, you organize your receipts every quarter, but there are a few of us who aren’t like that,” Miller notes.

Take this time to find receipts for storage costs, inventory, shipping costs, materials, listing fees and any other selling costs you incurred during the past year. These are tax write-offs that can reduce what you owe to Uncle Sam. Just be sure to have a tax professional review your return, she advises.

About the author

Olga Munoz
Olga Munoz is editor of TheOnlineSeller.com. In addition to writing news and feature articles about e-commerce, selling trends, online marketing and other topics of interest to online sellers, Olga manages the site's social media efforts. A journalism graduate of Chico State, Olga says her favorite part of being a journalist is learning interesting facts that help put stories into perspective, attending industry events and meeting interesting people "that leave you smiling, even in tough situations." Opinions expressed here may not be shared by The Online Seller and/or its principals.

  • betul sen

    Very helpfull.Thank you very much.I’ll remember your advices.

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