What I’m about to say is not going to be terribly popular. But it’s necessary.

It’s time to start thinking about Christmas.

And Halloween and Thanksgiving and every other fall/winter holiday that comes along.

Put down the sunblock for a moment and hear me out. The National Retail Federation estimates that holiday sales can cop up to 30 percent of annual sales.1https://nrf.com/resources/holiday-headquarters/holiday-faqs Wouldn’t it be in your best interest, then, to be as prepared as possible, and be ready to race out of the gate when the holiday season starts? (Yes.) And don’t these things take time to plan? (Yes.) And don’t you want to have your holiday promotions in the stores by August? (No.) (Please, no.) (Seriously, no. There are even some studies about why this is not beneficial.)2https://intelligence.slice.com/online-artificial-christmas-tree-sales/

So even though you’re still sweating your way through summer, it’s time to start planning for winter. Here are four tips for making sure you and your products are holiday ready:

  1. Reflect on the ghosts of Christmas Past.
    Start by taking a look at your strategy from last year. What worked? What didn’t work? What would you keep or change about last year’s promotions or packaging or displays? If there are things that worked well, and wouldn’t be tired or overdone if you used them again this year, then by all means, recycle those ideas. Holiday planning doesn’t mean you have to reinvent the wheel—traditions become traditions for a reason.
  2. Make sure things are in working order.
    Is your website optimized? Is your packaging on point? Are your ordering functions operating? If they’re not, the time to get all of these components (and any other components you can think of) squared away is now. The last thing you need is your system crashing, or your packaging failing (or worse, being out of stock), or any myriad preventable disasters during the holiday rush. Shoppers should be able to shop until they drop, not until your product or website does.
  3. Check in with retailers.
    You’re not the only one in planning mode. Retailers are also putting together their strategies for the upcoming holiday season—it’s a good time to reach out and see what they’ve got on tap. That can help you strategize your own holiday plans, and could potentially set up some ways to mesh your products and their plans for maximum promotion.
  4. Don’t forget about post-holiday potential.
    Just as people start screaming for a break from the holidays, they start screaming for another reason—holiday bills. And yet as they settle back into “real” life—and remember their New Year’s Resolution about budgeting—they still need to buy things. (I’m looking at you, food and toiletries in particular.) So why not plan a promotion for those post-holiday blues? People may not be in the mood to spend a lot of money, but if they can make those essential purchases at a steal of a deal, the joy they—and you—will feel will rival that of getting a puppy on Christmas morning.

What’s your plan for the holidays this year?

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