Welcome to 2021! The festive period may have come and gone, but we’re not quite done with it yet. As Small Business Owners the Christmas sales season can be the busiest and most profitable time of the year for us, so it’s important to take a look at how things panned out throughout November and December, to review what went well, what added value, and what didn’t, and adapt and implement changes accordingly.
In episode 23 of The Resilient Retail Game Plan, we’ll use SWOT Analysis to identify your business’s strengths, weaknesses, and possible opportunities and threats. From looking at your sales figures and celebrating bestsellers to reviewing supplier and courier relationships and your audience’s engagement with your marketing, we’ll cover everything you need to consider when strategizing for the new year so that you can continue to grow your sales and to surprise and delight your customers throughout 2021 into next Christmas.
No time to listen? Read the episode in this blog post below!
How was Christmas 2020 for you?
Why is it so prudent to review how Christmas went for you and your business? Well it’s the busiest time of the product business year so there will be undoubtedly many learnings. When you come to plan your Christmas 21 chances are your memory about what happened won’t be like it is right now. You think you won’t forget but products business owners have to move on to the next priority – the next sale the next season, the next products that you’re launching – it’s very easy to forget what happened.
The best time to do a review, a ‘lessons learned’ is as soon as possible after you have completed the festive season and the first few weeks of January is that time! Before I start – there’s a PDF on INSERT – If you print that out and use it as a guide and a place to take notes you’ll find it very helpful.
Do a SWOT analysis – this is a very simple review format. Strengths, weaknesses, opportunities and threats – it’s an effective way to collect your thoughts and a great tool to help review what happened during the festive period.
Go through what went well and added value. In other words, think about what was good about Christmas – did you have a best-selling product? Did you have a particular event that you took part in that was really positive? Do you feel like your imagery was strong? Did you feel like one of your social media channels was performing well? Did you find an influencer who featured your products and that had a good impact on your sales? Did you get your products featured into a gift guide which resulted in more sales? Write down all of the good stuff – the good products, the good messaging, the good sales channels, the good events, the good actions that you took as a business owner that you felt were really positive.
You’re identifying the things you want to do more of for the next festive season – sounds obvious but it’s essential to note them down at this stage – otherwise you will forget. It also helps you plan your timeframe for 2021, for example, if you were featured in a gift guide then had a big spike in sales this could be an indicator that this year you should start your gift guide work as early as May.
You also have to think about what didn’t go well. What did you have issues with? Did you have a product that you created that just didn’t sell? Write that down so that you can remember not to do it again this year? Did you have major problems with one of your couriers? Did your website work out and perform well enough? Were your suppliers reliable? Did you have the right people working with you? How did your fulfilment perform? Where did you have bottlenecks? Where did you have problems?
You’re identifying the things that you could put in place between now and next year – if you had problems with your courier company – trial others during a quieter period.
Review your product sales
How much did you take in November and December? Not just your sales cash but also the number of units – work out what your average order value was and what your average selling price was. What does that tell you? Is it higher than it normally is? Does that mean that you did a really good job pushing up your average order value by offering bundles or were your add on items actually lower priced? which meant that you brought in some lower priced products, which may be sold really well, but then brought down your overall transaction values?
You’re identifying what your Christmas sales tell you? What are your best-selling items in cash? Obviously, you always want to know what your cash best-sellers are, because that’s what brings the money into the business – but you also want to know what your unit best-sellers are worth. You also want to know the best-sellers by profit, it’s always good to work out which of the products in your business are the most profitable? Which ones actually add the most to your bottom line for that season? And what do you take away from this? You’ll be able to identify your key price points and what action to take – for example if to push bundles more.
Look at your worst sellers – the items that didn’t sell at all or had very low sales? I know this is a tough part of running a product business, especially if they are products you’ve created yourself but you just want to do more of what worked and stop doing the things that didn’t.
Note down your first thoughts about your Christmas 2021 ranges whilst Christmas 2020 is fresh in your mind. It’s also really helpful to review your Christmas sales channels and customers. Look at where you sold your products – on your own website? on other people’s websites? Which events did you take part in? List them all out and work out which was the most successful in terms of sales.
If you were convinced to try something new but it didn’t work for you – make a note of it so when Christmas 2021comes around you don’t repeat the same mistakes.
Equally – note down any events you saw other people taking part in that you thought looked really good – try to get those dates in your diary as soon as possible so you can get booked on.
One of the trickiest things about being a small business owner is that you only have a limited amount of time and energy so a key outcome of this review process is to be clear where you want to focus your time and energy.
What did your customers think?
What kind of feedback did you get from your customers? What was the positive and negative feedback? It’s really hard when you get negative feedback as a business owner because sometimes people are just rude! Sometimes customers have no appreciation for how hard you work on your business and the fact that you’re a small business so operate differently to a major retailer.
However, you do need to ask yourself if you got negative feedback, if people were complaining – is there any truth in what they said? Once identified and acknowledged you can make a plan to deal with it positively. For example, if you had problems with a courier and that was the cause of most of your negative feedback, is that something that you need to address for next Christmas? Can you improve the way that you communicate with your customers? Were there any quality issues with your products?
Looking back at your customer service feedback, when you’re not so tired and burnt out from Christmas, will help you see if there are any patterns or just one issue that created most of the negative feedback.
Be prepared to make changes
Think about what are you going to do to surprise and delight your customers in 2021. Is there anything that you can add to your packages and your notes or even surprise every 50th customer with something special or an upgrade? Think about ways that you could really move your customer service up to the next level for 2021. Ultimately, keeping your customers happy is one of the smartest things you can do for your business.
Putting together Christmas marketing review is a really positive and useful thing to do. Take a look at the best social media posts and those that have the lowest reaction during the Christmas time period. Which emails did you send out? How often did you send emails out? What kind of reaction did you get from them? What kind of sales did you get from them? What promotions did you run? How did they do? Did you spend any money on advertising, how much did you spend and on what dates – make a note of all of this. When you’re planning out your sales for 2021 for example, then it’s really useful to know exactly what you were doing week by week, and what the results were.
If you’ve got Google Analytics set up on your website, it’s really interesting to see where people were coming from – you’ll identify if people were driven from your emails, social media, an event etc.
Make a plan
Finally – you need to start making your plans for 2021! Start by deciding what you want your sale targets to be? Then start planning your activity schedule – when are you going to launch your Christmas products for example – once you’ve decided that you can work back and know the dates for when to have your marketing plan complete. When do you need to finalise your Christmas orders with your suppliers? When do you need to get the bulk of your products made? When do you need to select the products that you’re going promote? And when do you need to start investigating and signing up for Christmas events? When do you need to get your products finalised and photography done so that you could get into long lead time PR? There’s lots for you to think about in terms of 2021 but starting now will yield greater success – I promise!
If you want to have a whole week devoted to planning out your Christmas then sign up for my FREE 5-Day Challenge now.