In a nutshell, no, it is NOT too early to plan for holiday sales. As a matter of fact, depending on your product focus and niche, you might be behind!!
With the fourth quarter typically being the busiest and most profitable time of the year from most producers, it is really never too early to plan.
Wholesale in a Box created the following excellent list of tips to help you prepare:
1. Prepare your personal life.
… Things get crazy around the holidays, especially if you’re trying to grow. You’re dealing with retail orders, wholesale orders, holiday markets, and production all at once. So it will be a little nuts, but the truth is that the truly nuts period is pretty short, probably about 4-6 weeks. It doesn’t last forever, so don’t “heap on”, adding other unnecessary commitments to the roster during those weeks. Try to set expectations with yourself, family, and friends so that you have as clean a slate as possible so you can focus on your business. …
2. Get the help you need — early.
Ideally, you don’t wait until you’re already completely overwhelmed before you get help. … if your business is a little more unpredictable at this point, and you’re not sure whether you’ll need help, whether you’ll be able to pay for it, or how much help you’ll need — that is ok. You can ask a couple of friends to commit to being “on call” during a 3-week period for movie-and-production nights. …. In other words, you can start cultivating the help you’ll need, but doing so in a way that is flexible and fits the stage that your business is at. It’s ok to tell people, “I might need help, but I’m not sure how much.”
3. Love the ones you’re with.
… one of the most important things you can do is cultivate your relationships with your current stockists. In other words: love the one(s) you’re with. How to cultivate reorders during the holidays? So many store owners tell me that they don’t have a super-precise system for deciding what to reorder. So a big part of your focus should be making your line visible to the stockist and being of service to the stockist. That way you’re top-of-mind when the store owner is making their list of items to buy. …
4. Focus on your best sellers and what makes you distinctive.
Makers tend to think their line needs to be well-rounded. There is certainly some truth to that, but store owners often tell us that it is actually the 2 or 3 standout pieces that prompt them to choose this line over that line. Standout pieces help stores make sales when a customer is in the shop browsing. So if there is a piece that they simply can’t get anywhere else, it will likely push them over the edge to choosing your line, and putting together enough other pieces from the line to make a full order.
5. Get your outreach materials as good as they can be, so they’re not holding you back.
… Take a look at your line sheet, product photography, email template, and other materials. Make a list of the things that will take the least investment of time and money that will have the biggest impact on the quality of your materials. Get a fresh pair of eyes on them if you can, too. …
6. Connect with people who will love your work
… Start by looking for stores for whom carrying your work should be a no-brainer. Find stores that are such great fits that you almost think they must already be carrying your work. … Once you find a good list of stores, connect with them from your heart. Do the thinking for them. … Explain why you think your work would be a great fit. And follow up. It’s not rocket science — it just takes a little courage and a lot of consistency.
7. Take a step back and make a plan.
… the more you do early, the better the results, with the less stress you’ll have. …Different stores wrap up their ordering at different times. But no matter the store, you really can’t lose by being a little too early. August is a great time to start but most people delay their holiday wholesale outreach until it’s close to too late. … So start now, plan what you intend to do to grow over the holidays, and take it one step at a time.
8. Launch ‘em if you’ve got ‘em.
If you have a product that’s brewing, pre-holiday season is a great time to do it. Don’t let it be a distraction for the sales and marketing of your current set of products. But if there is something that you think you could get out in time, the holidays are a great time to get new things out into the world. ..
9. Work according to your business stage.
One tricky part of wholesale growth is that everyone needs slightly different advice. …
This is where I can help! As a sales rep, producer and former store owner and manager, I know the ins and outs (or what you need to do) to sell to retailers. Let me help you get your plan together for a successful holiday season.
Check out my 1-on-1 Wholesale Business Coaching to get you started NOW while there is still time!