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When Should I Stop Selling During the Holiday Season?

Know what deadline to set so your items arrive in time for Christmas.

Q: What is the ideal cutoff date to make sure the items I sell during the holiday season can be delivered in time for Christmas?

A: As an eBay seller for 13 years, I have learned that the holiday selling season is shorter and a little trickier for online merchants than it is for a typical brick-and-mortar retailer. With a physical store, shoppers simply walk in, buy what they want, and head home to wrap their items, if they’re presents for someone else.

With online sales, buyers must shop, purchase and wait for the item to arrive, hoping it will get to their mailbox—or their loved one’s mailbox—in time for Christmas.

Your listings should include simple, straightforward terms of service and insight into your business philosophy

Since most eBay sellers are individually owned businesses, it is of utmost importance to emphasize trust, convenience and—last but certainly not least—fast shipping, so shoppers will feel comfortable buying from you and know their items will arrive on time.

Here’s how you can make shopping easy for holiday buyers, and when you should stop selling to ensure items will be safely tucked under the Christmas tree come Dec. 25.

Start by building trust

Your eBay feedback profile will be the primary resource for establishing trust among buyers, letting them know if you’re a professional who will meet their buying and delivery expectations. However, your listings should include simple, straightforward terms of service and insight into your business philosophy, too. This will add to your credibility.

You could say, for example, “We strive for 100-percent customer satisfaction and work hard to earn your five-star rating!”

During the holidays, I try to make the online buying experience as convenient as possible. Remember, convenience is a big reason why buyers go online. I try to accomplish this by:

  • Including the Buy It Now option with my auction-style listings
  • Shipping items to gift recipients
  • Offering gift wrapping for a small fee
  • Including a gift card in my packages
  • Offering various shipping methods and carriers, including expedited and/or overnight options
  • Shipping worldwide
  • And waiving handling fees.
If you’re shipping via USPS Express Mail, it is guaranteed next-day delivery, so you could extend your cutoff date to Dec. 21

These techniques build on that trust you’ve established through your feedback scores and policies, and reassure shoppers that items will arrive before that Dec. 25 deadline.

Delivering on delivery times

Now, on to those cutoff dates. I recommend ending auction-style listings one week prior to Christmas, if you’re shipping USPS Priority Mail, to make sure they arrive on time. If you’re shipping via USPS Express Mail, it is guaranteed next-day delivery, so you could extend your cutoff date to Dec. 21.

One important note to keep in mind during the holidays: Most consumers won’t wait until the last minute for online purchases, in fear of the package not being delivered in time for Christmas.

Because of this, you will see a sharp decline in sales the week before Christmas. Keeping the rush of the holidays in mind, I recommend running fixed-price listings during the holiday selling season and one-, three- or five-day auction-style listings that include a Buy It Now option so shoppers can buy what they want quickly and get packages on their way to their final destinations.


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About the author

Stephanie Inge
Stephanie Inge is an avid eBay entrepreneur, a professional eBay instructor and an e-business consultant. Stephanie is a registered eBay Trading Assistant, the founder of the largest and most active eBay Seller's group in the world, The Dallas eBaybes & eMales, and a member of The eBay Voices Community.



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