Ah! The holidays! Shopping season in the US. It is that time when consumers get the biggest deals for the most coveted items, and sellers make the biggest profits.
The events this year (Covid-19) indicate that shopping activities will take a different turn. Online shopping is likely to be the biggest benefactor, therefore creating an excellent opportunity for dropshippers.
Considering this is the busiest and most profitable time of the year, you must be well prepared. This guide shows you how best you can prepare your dropshipping store for the holidays and maximize your sales and profits.
Why you should be ready
It is a risky move to enter the holiday season without adequate preparations. Here’s why you need a holiday plan for your dropshipping store.
Product sales increase tremendously during the holiday season. People shop for gifts, decorations, and household items offered on sale. So, if you haven’t prepared to deal with more orders than usual, you will have difficulty coping.
Your website could crash, as well as payment options. Shipping models could also be affected by the influx of packages.
Furthermore, suppliers might run out of stock. If you do not have a plan in place, you could lose many customers.
11 tips to prepare your dropshipping store for the holidays
1. Choose a Holiday Sale
You should identify which holidays you want to celebrate at your dropshipping store. You may not be able to target all of them.
Choosing your holiday is dependent on your target market and the resources at your disposal. Key holidays you could target:
- Black Friday
- Cyber Monday
- New Year’s Eve
If you are starting, you can begin with one holiday and work your way up. Focus on holidays that bring you the most potential customers. Then, you can focus all your marketing resources on promoting these.
2. Plan Your Inventory
As you prepare for the holidays, having ample inventory is vital.
You must maintain contact with your supplier to ensure they have enough product to offer for the festive season. Keep in mind that your store is not the only one preparing for the influx of orders, so the earlier you reserve.
If you handle the product yourself, this is the time to stock enough.
Based on past occurrences, you can predict which products are likely to sell best. When you do, capitalize on these items and stock or reserve them in large quantities.
3. Develop a marketing strategy
You must create an actionable marketing strategy that outlines your holiday goals and how you plan to accomplish them.
Key questions to answer when developing your marketing strategy include:
- Which holidays are you using?
- Who is your target audience?
- What type of holiday special are you offering?
- When will you launch your campaign?
After creating your marketing strategy, you can then start executing your ideas as soon as possible.
Key marketing strategies you can adopt for your dropshipping store during the holidays.
Create relevant content to share on social media about why people should visit your store for their holiday shopping. Content that appeals to your audience will drive traffic to your dropshipping site and thus increase sales.
In a highly competitive space, paid advertising is critical for your brand to get through the noise. The simplest way is to use Facebook and Instagram ads. Google ads also help to drive in-store traffic and website visits.
Email lists are useful for sending promotional information during the holiday season. You can email as many potential customers as possible about upcoming offers even before the season arrives. Emails are also a way to remind customers about abandoned carts.
With this strategy, you target users who visited your store before. It provides an excellent opportunity to remind people of your store and even inform them of new deals they might be interested in.
- When marketing your dropshipping store, try to keep your efforts focused. You cannot be everywhere at the same time because marketing takes a lot of time and resources. When you do so, you end up overstretched and not effective at any channel.
- It is best to optimize your site and put up any campaigns before the shopping begins.
- The festive season is the ideal time to use promotional tactics like upsells and seasonal services to drive more sales.
As you prepare for holiday sales, you must include some special offers. During this time, customers expect stores to offer holiday promotions, and they look for the best deals.
Price cuts. You could offer some products at a percentage off, which often drives an increase in sales.
Products packages. Provide holiday bundles and gift sets by combining similar or complementary items. For example, in cosmetics, you could bundle different flavors of a product and sell at a reduced price.
5. Add payment options
You want to have as many payment options as possible if you are expecting high sales volumes. A lot of abandoned carts come about because people cannot find their preferred mode of payment.
Therefore, to reduce these occurrences, add some more options to cater to a broad customer range. If you ship abroad, remember that some payment options might work well in the US but not in other countries. Choose secure and widely trusted platforms like PayPal, Visa, Mastercard, etc.
6. Return policy
During the holiday season, you should revisit your return and exchange policies. Things happen; people order wrong sizes, get faulty goods, etc.
Research indicates that in some niches, over 30% of purchases are returned. During the holidays, these numbers would probably increase. However, what customers need is the assurance that they can easily return an item they are not satisfied with. Such flexibility enhances trust and customer loyalty.
Also, your competitors probably use attractive return policies to stand out. So, you must position yourself similarly, too. Otherwise, with strict policies, you risk losing sales.
7. Use third-party logistics firms.
Depending on your location and history, you should consider third party logistical firms like DHL, XPO logistics, FedEx, etc. The holiday season comes with many orders, so transportation and delivery may become a nightmare.
Using a third-party firm to handle your warehousing and order fulfillment would help you make timely deliveries, thus enhancing customer satisfaction. It also provides you more time to focus on other critical activities like marketing and sales.
8. Customer support
Holiday shopping can often be a hectic time for shoppers. Therefore, make sure you have 24/7 support to help your customers with anything they might need. Support can be via phone, social media, email, etc.
Excellent support not only enhances customer satisfaction but also develops loyalty.
It also helps to keep your customers informed about the state of their purchases. Regular updates reduce any anxieties and enhance the customer experience.
Additionally, make sure your business’s contact information is easily accessible. Contact transparency could tremendously increase customer trust in your dropshipping store.
9. Fix technical issues
In preparation for holiday sales, check all your backend structures and fix any potential problems. You cannot afford to have glitches in the middle of such a busy season. Ensure you have enough capacity to deal with an influx of orders.
Check your site speed as well, and work to keep it under 3 seconds. Additionally, find out if your third-party integrations can carry a high traffic load and then act accordingly.
Furthermore, the holiday season is not the time to make significant changes to your site. New features and functionalities may need time for testing. Therefore, you run higher risks of incurring unexpected website problems during the shopping season. Your customers may also quickly get confused if they meet too many changes while finding holiday deals.
So, postpone any significant technical adjustments to off-peak seasons unless they are necessary.
10. Enhance your checkout processes
Over 69% of customers abandon the cart at the checkout stage. To keep this from happening, you must ensure your processes are as smooth as possible. You can do so in the following ways:
Adopt a one-page checkout. This way, customers do not have to go through multiple pages and steps to buy something. A simple process reduces the chances of customers leaving your site before completing a purchase.
Use anonymous checkouts. This method is useful for new customers who might not be very comfortable giving out their information initially. If they like what they buy, they can always return and be willing to provide their information.
Enable multiple recipient functionality. Many customers buy gifts in bulk during the holiday season, and the process can be quite hectic. You can simplify this process on your dropshipping store by providing the option to send their purchases directly to multiple recipients on the same page.
11. Have a back-up plan
You must be ready for any contingencies that may arise. You cannot always know what will happen, but you can prepare for possible occurrences. Analyze what has happened in the previous years. Have you run out of stock before, weren’t able to ship all your orders in time? Etc.
Based on these insights, you can develop a plan B in case a similar situation arises. Adequate preparation keeps you from repeating the same mistakes.
The holidays are an excellent opportunity to make a lot of sales. However, to maximize the benefits, you must be prepared. Remain in sync with your suppliers to ensure there is enough product to fulfill high order quantities. Dropshipping automation tools save you a lot of time in this process.
By following all these tips, you will position your dropshipping store to make a lot of money this holiday season.