Firstly, whether you’re a maker or a re-seller, you’ll increase the amount of product that you have accessible in the lead up to Christmas. As a small enterprise, space is incredibly hard to manage. Seasonal requirements simply don’t last all year round, so you need to source temporary space. With rolling contracts and flexibility to increase or decrease the size of unit that you use, self storage facilities are ideal for sellers and makers alike. Makers may even prefer to use a unit for the crafting process itself if you don’t have a studio. Read more about business use here.
Clearly, the need for space happens well in advance of the Christmas period itself. For makers and artisans, you’ll have stepped up production well in advance. Sellers will have identified products that they predict will be popular and increased their stock accordingly. All of this accumulated stock needs to be kept somewhere, and ideally prepared for easy shipping. For makers, you may have a box of items that need to be presented and packaged for purchase. Make sure that you’ve done all of this well in advance so that shipping becomes more straightforward.
The layout of your unit, no matter how small, should be as strategically planned as a global marketplace. Are there products that tend to be ordered together? Are there special offers on specific items that increase the likelihood of their being ordered together? Does your online shop push certain items as suggestions at checkout? All of this should be reflected in where your stock is positioned in your storage unit. Keep alike items together and order fulfilment wil be that bit less hectic. You can’t always predict the way that shoppers behave, but a bit of planning to your unit layout will ease things a bit.
Do you combine online sales with in person selling at markets and fairs? With sales being made in tandem, you need to keep a close track on inventory and sales patterns. You’ll also need space to store all of your market display equipment. This works a bit like home festive decoration storage. Especially in the Christmas period, festive market stalls need a bit of decoration and sparkle to attract attention in a competitive environment. So keep a section of your storage unit to store festive scene setting decor, to keep it accessible when you need it for in person selling. After all, it comes around earlier each year!
Use a combination of previous years’ data and trending products and styles to make predictions about what is likely to sell strongly. Make sure that your inventory management is well structured and organised. Whether you choose to use a software package to manage this is down to individual preference and the size of your business. Some like to manage their stock manually. Others find automated systems helpful, especially when there are multiple sales avenues to take into account. Managing your stock well will mean that you can fulfil the demand for popular items and avoid excessive unsold stock of other items.
You not only have to find the space to store all of the products that you hope to sell over the Christmas period, but all of the packaging materials too. In addition, you’ll ideally need space to package orders up ready to be dispatched. Packaging is a really important part of any smaller scale seller or maker’s brand identity. Many local or boutique sellers have strong eco business values, choosing to package without plastic. This means storing a variety of sized cardboard boxes, paper sheets, biodegradable loose fill packaging, labels, and decorative additions. Make sure, when you are planning your storage unit layout, that you have sufficient room to store the equipment and package your sales.
Make sure that you run to realistic timescales. For online businesses, be clear on your website when the last order day before Christmas is. Depending on your shipping provider, you may want to add extra leeway here to make sure that no customer is disappointed. Any offers that you run should have clear end dates. Remember that you can extend an offer but if it’s so well taken up that it’s costing you, you may regret setting the period for so long! All of this planning should play a part in how you lay out your storage unit to optimise fulfilment of orders. Prioritise the position of offer goods, and plan for the days leading up to the last order date to arrive by Christmas. People are disorganised so there will be a lot of order fulfilment work to do. Many people employ casual seasonal help for this very reason.
The festive season invariably throws up a couple of challenges for sellers to overcome. If you’re operating without sufficient space to stay organised, you may find that you have more to overcome. Sufficient storage and operation space has a huge role to play in preventing as many challenges as possible.
For small sales businesses, pre-Christmas organisation is as important as any marketing campaign. Well ordered stock and sufficient space will allow you to live up to the promise of your marketing. To enquire about, or increase, space just get in touch.