Holiday Rush Calendar

Here are some important dates and deadlines to get your shop ready for the holiday shopping season. When it comes to the holidays, it’s never too early to prepare.

October 1: New product planning

If you’ve got some new items in mind for the holidays, now’s the time to get started. Keep in mind that most holiday shopping happens in mid-to-late November, so start early - especially on items where vendors are responsible for part of your production. This year, things might be a little different, so be ready for more online shopping and the occasional shipping delays.

October 10: A new shopping day?

For the first time in 2020, we’re hearing rumors of a new shopping holiday on 10/10. We’ll see if it sticks, but it’s something to keep on your radar.

Since more people are staying home and shopping online (not to mention the rush of mail-in ballots and other process and funding changes with the USPS), life will be a little easier for the whole dang chain of production, shop owners, and shipping carriers if the shopping season is longer. So think about if you’re ready to dive in and take part in this early push for holiday buying, and consider what other ways you might like to reinvent your approach to make this season easier.

October 12: To market, to market

Although in-person events might not happen in the same way, if you do find yourself participating in holiday markets, craft fairs, or art shows with physical distancing in mind, start planning inventory, signage, and other details. That way you won’t be trying to ship holiday orders while also building a custom display for your items in November. Don’t forget some extra masks, gloves, and hand sanitizer!

October 26: Production mode

Are you spending late nights printing, sewing, carving, or painting those final details on your products? We’ve got the perfect playlist for those long hours. And remember to post a few process photos on your blog, Instagram, Facebook, or Twitter. People love a look behind the scenes.

November 2: Set it and forget it

You’ll want to post frequently, and on multiple social media platforms, throughout the holiday shopping season. Make your life a little easier by signing up for a service like Buffer, Hootsuite, or IFTTT. Depending on the service, you can schedule tweets, move drafts around, or post the same content on multiple channels. (Trust us, it’s worth it.)

If this isn’t your first rodeo or you need some additional tools for scheduling and analytics, Amber Discko pulled together some great suggestions for your Social Media Toolkit. While you’re shipping orders, doing some shopping of your own, or just enjoying that leftover pie, your business will keep on promoting your products, thanks to your planning.

November 5: Prep for a shop update

As you finish up any new products, start figuring out pricing and shoot photos so that everything’s looking its best. Get a start on product photography with our DIY tips and a professional’s at-home setup.

November 9: Final touches

Is your shop looking great? It’s a good time to check out some of our new themes to make sure you’re using a design that showcases your products at their best. Might we recommend Roadie, Netizen, or Sunscreen?

November 16: The cherry on top

Think about how you can make life easier for shoppers. Encourage them to write a gift note (use our handy Notes to Seller field!) or throw in a little something extra to bring on those warm holiday feelings.

November 18: Don’t forget to post

Shoppers love independent stores because they feel like they know the person or team behind the brand.

Let your personality shine through on social media and remind your community how much their support means to your business. Show them your inspiration and give them a glimpse of why you love doing what you do.

November 20: Remind your customers to shop

Most holiday shopping happens November 27th through 30th, so send out a newsletter in advance and throw in a discount code while you’re at it.

November 23: Build some buzz

Remember all those great new product shots you took? Share a different one each day to get customers excited.

Heads up: Around this time UPS Ground will begin taking one day longer than usual, so review and update your shipping estimates as needed, including a mention of any holiday-related delays.

November 27: Black Friday

Today is the official start of the holiday shopping season. While employees at big box stores are setting their alarms to be at work by 2 am, you’re the lucky owner of an online store, so your doors can open wide before you even change out of your pajamas. You’ve been working towards this day all month, so share product and process photos throughout the day, and remind shoppers that when they visit your store, they’re supporting an independent artist and business owner.

November 28: Small Business Saturday

This shopping day is yours! Post on Twitter, Instagram, Facebook, or whatever platform you prefer, and share your story as an independent business owner. And of course remember to shop small, independent brands yourself.

Check out some of the best indie shops tagged on Instagram under #bigcartel and #shopindie.

November 30: Cyber Monday

Cyber Monday is a special shopping day just for online stores (like yours!), so be ready for the rush.

Use social media to tell customers they can still shop indie, even while sitting on their couch and wearing their softest sweatshirt. And if you’ve got a discount code about to expire, remind customers when they have just a few hours left - they’ll appreciate the heads up after a weekend full of sales and promotions.

December 1: No time like the present

Hanukkah starts the evening of December 10 this year, so it’s a good time to set a shipping deadline for this holiday right near the beginning of the month. Make sure to give your customers notice, especially if you cater directly to this specific crowd.

December 3: Don’t delay, ship today! (Or tomorrow)

Now’s the time to encourage customers (especially your international fans) to place their order. Standard shipping should still do the trick for most holiday orders through the weekend, but it’s best to be ahead of the game this year.

December 8: Last day for international shipping

Wow, that was fast! Shipping carriers are delivering even more gifts and everyday essentials these days, so they’re plenty busy without last-minute orders. Send out one final reminder to your far-flung friends to order now.

December 10: Shipping deadlines are approaching

Christmas is coming on December 25, so make sure shoppers plan accordingly when placing late orders. Check with your preferred carriers, but here are a few deadlines for delivery before December 24 within the United States:

  • USPS First Class Mail: December 16
  • FedEx Ground: December 19
  • UPS Ground: December 16
  • USPS Priority Mail: December 21

December 11: Help out those late shoppers

Create a product for Express Shipping or make sure you have an option within Shipping Profiles and help those procrastinators get their goods before the holiday. You can also offer upgraded shipping for orders over a certain dollar amount.

December 19: Manage expectations

Make sure customers know that orders may not reach them before the holidays. It’s OK to deliver after December 25 as long as shoppers are informed.

December 24: Take a break

Enjoy a well-earned break! Once all of your shipping is done, put your shop in Maintenance Mode, pull on your comfiest sweats, and relax. Spend time this season with your loved ones, celebrating whatever holiday suits you. Good job, you made it.

January 2: Welcome new friends

The gifts have been opened, and jealous friends or new fanatics will be heading your way to grab their own goods. So open that store back up, and make sure your FAQs are updated for the folks that need to exchange a shirt for a different size (gift givers can’t get it right 100% of the time, after all).

Sarah Anderson

Marketing at Big Cartel. Loud talker, maker at City of Industry. Semi-professional aunt. Pretty psyched about all of it.

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