Here are some important dates and deadlines to get your shop ready for the holiday shopping season.
October 18: 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 mid-November, so start early - especially on items where vendors are responsible for part of your production.
October 25: To market, to market
If you're participating in holiday markets, craft fairs, or art shows, 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.
November 1: 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, or Twitter. People love a look behind the scenes.
November 3: Set it and forget it
You'll likely want to post frequently, and on multiple social media platforms, throughout the holiday season. So make your life a little easier by signing up for services like Buffer, Hootsuite, or IFTTT. Depending on the service, you can schedule tweets, move drafts around, or post the same content on multiple channels. So while you're shipping orders, doing some shopping of your own, or just enjoying that leftover pie, your business is still actively promoting products, thanks to your planning.
November 8: 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 10: 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 Trace, Foundry, or Lunch Break?
November 14: 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 17: Don't forget to post
Shoppers love independent stores, because they feel like they know the person or team behind the brand. So let your personality shine through in your blog or 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 18: Remind your customers to shop
Most holiday shopping happens November 25-28, so send out a newsletter and throw in a discount code while you’re at it.
November 21: Build some buzz
Remember all those great new product shots you took? Share a different one each day to get customers excited.
November 25: Black Friday
Today 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 26: 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.
November 28: 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 5: Early birds get the worms
Now's the time to encourage customers (especially your international fans) to not delay their order. Standard shipping should still do the trick throughout the week.
December 10: Last day for international shipping
USPS Priority Express International won't be guaranteed past this date, so send out one last reminder to your far-flung friends to order now.
December 12: Help out those late shoppers!
Create a product or option for Express Shipping and help those procrastinators get their goods before the holiday. You can also offer upgraded shipping for orders over a certain dollar amount.
December 16: Last day to ship in time for Christmas and Hanukkah
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
USPS Priority Mail: December 20
Fedex Ground: December 18
UPS Ground: December 18
December 21: Manage expectations
Make sure customers know that orders may not reach them before the holidays. It’s okay to deliver after December 25, as long as shoppers are informed.
December 23: 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).