Craft Venture: decking your halls

ashleyannabrown

Welcome to Craft Venture ““ business and marketing tips for indie online business owners, just like us!  Im Brenda, owner of Phydeaux Designs on Etsy and 1000 Markets.  Last week, we talked about advertising online for the holidays, part of our series on the holiday season.  This week, we are talking about decking the halls – I mean your shop(s) – for the holidays.

Welcome to the start of the 2009 holiday shopping season!  This week, the malls and stores will be full of holiday decor, gifts, food, cards, wrapping paper, etc.  What about your own shop(s)?  Are you going to spruce up your banner, announcement, and item descriptions for the holidays?  I hope your answer is “yes,” and here are some reasons to do so!

Last holiday season, I completed 100% of my Christmas shopping online while working on holiday orders!  The year before last, I was so busy with my day job that I did nearly all of my holiday shopping online.  More and more people shop online for their holiday gifts and many of those folks will finish their shopping by Thanksgiving weekend.

With online shoppers, you have scant seconds to attact their attention before they click away to see something else.  We’ve talked about optimizing your online presence in the past, via your banner, announcement, policies, item descriptions, tagging, etc.  Now is the time to kick everything up a notch!   This is also an opportunity to tie your holiday “decor” into your particular branding (and vice versa).  If my shop banner didn’t have any relation to my shop at all (e.g., kawaii cuteness rather than my particular style of hand knits), the disconcerting clash could send away both my regular and new customers.  Instead, my banner uses my logo, holiday and winter colors, and one of my popular designs with overlaying snowflakes.

What might work for your own shop or website?  You  might be able to make a simple addition of snowflakes or holiday colors to your existing banner or images.  Or you may want to have a holiday banner designed (or make one yourself!) for you.  You should be able to use the same banner for a number of holiday seasons, just like your own beloved holiday decorations.  If nothing else, consider a small change or addition to your existing banner or graphics.  A subtle change may be the perfect way to help entice holiday shoppers to stay awhile longer in your online shop.

glitter assortment of christmas tags from made by jackie

Many online venues allow you to create some kind of shop or store announcements:  a section for you to convey crucial information.  How will you use this section for the holidays?  You will have important information to share with holiday shoppers, including shipping deadlines, special sales, your return and exchange policy, your ability to accept custom requests or wholesale orders.  Rather than try to fit all of that into your announcement section, consider directing visitors to a policy or other section where you detail your holiday-specific policies.

Most retailers have specific return and exchange policies for the holidays.  Putting yourself in your customer’s shoes, include what you would need to know about returns and exchanges for your own gift giving.  We’ll talk more about this, along with order fulfillment for gifts, in coming weeks.  If you don’t accept items for return or exchange, be sure to make this very clear to your shoppers.

If you normally ship first class, you can increase your holiday sales by offering priority and even express shipping.  I often hear from fellow sellers that customers won’t pay for more expensive shipping options; however, I know from experience that customers will most definitely pay for expedited shipping!  Do your shipping research this week and add your deadlines to your shipping policies (and order your priority mailing envelopes and boxes now, to avoid the last minute rush!).

If you offer free gift wrapping, let people know!  I love buying gifts that are already wrapped.  There are so many creative ways to inexpensively make a package pretty.  Add something to your item descriptions about gift wrapping, as well as your policies section.  And please, oh please, do a superb job with your wrapping.  It would be heartbreaking if your package was poorly wrapped, costing you repeat sales from your customer.

word stars from paper boat press

If you’re an active participant in your venue’s community, consider hanging some tinsel on your avatar as well!  You could add a snowflake that matches the snowflakes in your banner.  Use one of your shop’s holiday creations for your image or one of your most popular items against a green or red background!  Experiment and play with this!

Last and by no means least, consider holiday-themed photos of your items.  You could add snowflakes or other embellishment to existing photos using the magic of Photoshop.  You could take new photos against a backdrop with Winter or holiday colors.  Add a photo showing your item gift wrapped, or partially unwrapped!  If you use models for your items, have them decorate a tree or make a snowman or make snow angels – anything fun, unique and eye catching that says “holidays” or “winter.”

You don’t have to spend a lot of money or go bezerk with your shop(s)’ holiday decorating.  You should do something, unless it’s just not appropriate at all for your shop’s items or themes.  For most of us, this is the time to really work on our shops – I want all of you to achieve resounding success this holiday season!

Is this your first holiday season in business?  Are you a seasoned pro?  If the latter, what tips and advice can you share in the comments for both new and established sellers?  If the former, what was most helpful for you in this post and what else would you like to learn about?

Let’s also talk about our experiences as customers!  What do you look for when you’re shopping for holiday gifts:  free shipping, gift wrapping, returns/exchanges?  How important is a “decorated” shop to you?  Do you look for expedited shipping, particularly as the big days approach?

Images:  Red Striped Ornament by Ashley Anna Brown; Glitter assortment of Christmas tags by Made by Jackie; Ceramic ornament – word stars – by Paper Boat Press

3 comments | Click here to reply

this is my first season doing this full-time. i sadly neglected my shop for a very long time and am now jumping back in.

thanks for the tips… off to add some holiday glitz to my shop banner!

sam wedelich

i love the idea of adding a reminder of the holidays into your shop banner. really puts people in the spirit.
-brittni

papernstitch

[…] Markets.  We’ve been talking about preparing for the holidays.  Last week, we talked about “decorating” your online websites with holiday-themed graphics as well as making sure yo….  This week, we are talking about […]

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