Hot Topics:

Position Your Inventory for Holiday Sales

Make 5 simple changes to show buyers you have what they're looking for.

The Christmas shopping season has started, but there’s still time to position your inventory to maximize your holiday sales.

As more and more consumers go online to do their Christmas shopping, they’re looking for very specific things when they visit your online store. Fortunately, with a few simple changes, you can position your inventory to give shoppers exactly what they are looking for. These five steps will show you how.

1. Identify your prime holiday inventory

Rather than trying to promote everything in your store during the holidays, identify the inventory that is best suited to holiday purchases. Then set your primary focus on featuring and marketing that inventory first.

This is especially helpful for online merchants who carry a variety of different items all year long, or for “solopreneurs,” who has limited marketing bandwidth. When you pre-screen your best holiday inventory, you’ll be able to get maximum mileage from each and every sale.

2. Put your best inventory front and center

When it comes to successful holiday sales, the biggest mistake you can make is to expect customers to wade through your entire store inventory looking for the perfect gift.

Don’t make your customers work for the sale. They won’t do it. It’s up to you, as the owner of the store, to present your holiday inventory to customers in an easy-to-access, easy-to-find manner. For example: It’s up to you to present your holiday inventory to customers in an easy-to-access, easy-to-find manner

  • If you own a website, showcase your best inventory on a home page slider above the fold.
  • Change your showcase throughout the season.
  • Create easily identifiable holiday categories and make them stand out.
  • On eBay, use eBay Stores Promotion boxes and create holiday-specific categories to help guide potential buyers directly to your best items.

If customers come to your online store and see hundreds of product categories with no clear indication of where to find your hot holiday products, they will be easily overwhelmed and go in search of an online merchant who will “help” them shop. You can be that helpful merchant.

3. Create holiday gift lists

Holiday shoppers are busy, stressed and overwhelmed when looking for that perfect gift. You can provide a tremendous service for them by creating holiday gift lists!

Take a look at your inventory and come up with some ways to group them into interesting gift suggestion lists. And while “10 Top Toys Under $50” is a useful list to create, don’t stop there. Every online store uses that one.

With a little creativity, you can target your gift lists to your potential buyer, and connect them with exactly the item they are looking for. Here are a few suggestions to get you started:

  • 10 Hot New Cooking Gadgets for the Gourmet Chef on Your List
  • Our 15 Best-Selling Gifts for Dads Who Don’t Wear Ties
  • 12 Gemstone Bracelets That Say “I Love You” in Color
  • 8 Creative Toys for Kids Under 8

Holiday gift lists will help shoppers make their purchasing decisions. This is one of the most effective, low-cost holiday prep techniques you can use.

4. Create holiday gift sets and bundles

Holiday shoppers are looking for that perfect gift. When they find an exclusive set they can’t find anywhere else, it’s a compelling reason to make the purchase—and make it now.

Even if you didn’t order any gift sets from your suppliers, you can still create your own—from existing inventory.

To create a gift set, take a look at your holiday inventory and see which pieces complement each other. For example, a seller of individual candles can pick three popular or complementary colors and bundle them together. Add in the perfect candle holder, and you have a great gift set for the candle lover.

Kids’ toys offer endless opportunities to create holiday gift sets. Pair the Cars Lego Set® with a Cars® book and you have an exclusive product that your competitor doesn’t carry. You also have something extra special to offer people shopping for the young Cars® fan.

Note: Once you’ve created your special holiday gift set, be sure and market it that way.

Now you have an exclusive. Let your buyers know that this is the only place they’ll find this particular set. Use the messaging of the holidays in your sales copy to help shoppers envision the benefits of this special set. For example:

“After a fun-filled day assembling this brand new Cars Lego Set®, he’ll crawl into bed with his beloved Cars action figure and, while you read him the latest Cars book, fall happily asleep.”


Another benefit of creating gift sets is that you can charge a higher price for the exclusive set, rather than selling the items as individual units.

Shoppers need a sale deadline to spur them on to making a purchasing decision

5. Create themed, event-based promotions

Everybody likes a holiday sale, but rather than running a run-of-the-mill “holiday sale,” spice up your holiday deals with an event-based promotion. For example:

  • Run a “Cooking in the Kitchen with Santa” sale to promote your line of cookware and bakeware.
  • Hold a “Dreaming of a White Christmas” sale to promote your white plates, mugs, table linens and candles to decorate a holiday home.
  • A “North Pole Blast” sale could promote jackets and coats, snow sport goods or even home winterizing products.

And always, when running a promotion, make it a time-limited offering. Never put everything in your store on sale for 20 percent off for the duration of the Christams shopping season. Shoppers need a sale deadline to spur them on to making a purchasing decision. When they know your sale ends on a certain date, they will give serious consideration to making their decision before that date.

Making the most of nonholiday inventory

As you can see, with a little thought and creativity, you can position your holiday inventory to maximize your holiday sales. But what if you didn’t buy any holiday-specific inventory?

It’s simple—just look at your existing inventory with “holiday vision.”

  • Showcase your red and black dresses and position them as the perfect dresses for a holiday party.
  • An oversized white platter can be marketed as the perfect setting for that holiday turkey.
  • Sell in the home décor category, but don’t have a lot of holiday specific inventory? Everyone wants to spruce up the house before holiday guests arrive—promote your best home décor products for a “holiday home makeover.”

Keep in mind, a recent consumer survey by the National Retail Federation reveals that 60 percent of holiday shoppers will buy a non-gift holiday purchase for themselves or their family this year. So when you prepare your inventory for the holidays, keep this massive buying group in mind when you do your merchandising and marketing!

And make this your best holiday selling season ever!

For more great holiday selling strategies, visit “Ten Holiday Do’s and Don’ts to Make This Your Best Holiday Selling Season Ever!

About the author

Lisa Suttora
Lisa Suttora is an internationally known e-commerce expert, internet marketing strategist and veteran trend spotter. As founder and CEO of, Suttora has helped thousands of enterprising entrepreneurs build successful, niche-based online businesses. Since 2004, has provided premier education and a global community for online retailers. To get the latest on hot product niches and trends, subscribe to Suttora's free trend sheet Hot Trend Alerts. Suttora also has a 15-day e-course to help sellers make money on today's eBay. Opinions expressed here may not be shared by The Online Seller and/or its principals.

Newsletter Signup