The Resilient Retail Game Plan Episode 204

Christmas in July: Why Now is the Time to Plan Your Christmas Strategy

Podcast show notes

Why Now is the Time to Plan Your Christmas Strategy

Today we are kicking off a six-part series on preparing christmas strategy for the crucial time of year for retailers, Christmas. 

In this episode, I explain why now is the perfect time to start planning and share insights on setting goals, reviewing past performance, and strategizing for the upcoming holiday season. We’ll explore how to plan for sales, manage resources effectively, and ensure your business is ready to delight customers. Whether you’re a Christmas-focused brand or have another peak season, this episode provides valuable tips to ensure a seamless, (stress-free?) and profitable end-of-year period.

From July 15th – 19th, inside the Resilient Retail Club we have a five-day challenge to put together your Christmas strategy. Learn more about the Resilient Retail Club. 

[03:06] How do I define the “Christmas Season” (and what to do if Christmas isn’t your peek-season)

[05:37] Why are we talking about Christmas now (at the start of summer!)?

[06:02] Building a Christmas Strategy 1: Analyze what happened last Christmas

[07:31] Building a Christmas Strategy 2: What is your intention for this year?

[09:27] Building a Christmas Strategy 2: How much are you going to make this year?

If you liked this catch-up on these Christmas Episodes:

162: How to Strategise for Christmas Success 

154: 7 Tips for Using Summer to Get Ready for Christmas

About the featured guest

Catherine Erdly

Founder
The Resilient Retail Club
The Resilient Retail Club, is a membership group and mastermind for product businesses.

Interested in being a guest or sponsor of The Resilient Retail Game Plan?

Drop us an email to let us know why you think you’d be a great fit for our audience of small businesses and independent retail brands

Christmas in July: Why Now is the Time to Plan Your Holiday Strategy

Catherine Erdly: It’s time for us to talk about Christmas. Now, some of you may have already been thinking about Christmas for quite some time, but if you haven’t, then hopefully by the end of this episode, I’ll have convinced you why now is the perfect time for you to start thinking about it. 

Hi, I’m Catherine Erdly. I’m the host of the podcast, and I’m also the founder of the Resilient Retail Club. It’s my membership group and mastermind for product businesses. You can check it out and find out more information at resilientretailclub.com. 

And before we jump into today’s episode, I’d also like to start, usually I end with this, but let’s start by asking you if you have a moment to please, please think about rating and reviewing the podcast.

You can leave a review and a rating on Apple podcasts, and you can also review it on Spotify. And if you like, follow, subscribe, whatever it is on your platform, then that makes a huge difference to how many people actually get shown the podcast. So if you have a minute to do so, that would make a huge difference to me.

And it will also mean that you’ll be the first to know each week about each new episode.

 Over the next six episodes I’m going to be talking to you about getting ready for Christmas and talking to you about all of the different elements. The format that I’m going to go for is I’m going to do a solo episode followed by a guest episode. And we’re going to cover three subjects.

We’re going to look at your overall strategy for the Christmas time period. We’re going to look at your Christmas product strategy, and then we’re going to talk about Christmas marketing. 

So across those six episodes, we’re going to be looking at some really key areas for getting ready for Christmas. And by the end of the series, you’ll have a list of things to do and to think about to help you get ready for Christmas.

Now we’re going to be diving into this in a lot more detail inside the Resilient Retail Club. In fact, we have a five day challenge to put together your Christmas strategy. That is happening on the 15th of July to the 19th of July. So do keep an eye out. If you’re on my mailing list, you’ll be getting a special invitation to join the club so you can come along and take part. So do keep an eye out or head over to resilientretailclub.com to sign up. 

Welcome to the Resilient Retail Game Plan, a podcast for anyone wanting to start, grow or scale a profitable creative product business with me, Catherine Erdly. The Resilient Retail Game Plan is a podcast dedicated to one thing, breaking down the concepts and tools that I’ve gathered from 20 years in the retail industry.

And showing you how you can use them in your business. This is the real nuts and bolts of running a successful product business broken down in an easy, accessible way. This is not a podcast about learning how to make your business look good. It’s the tools and techniques that will make you and your business feel good.

Confidently plan, launch and manage your products and feel in control of your sales numbers and cashflow to help you build a resilient retail business.

How do I define the “Christmas Season” (and what to do if Christmas isn’t your peek-season)

Catherine Erdly: Let’s take a step back first of all and say, what are we talking about here? Well, for me, when I work with people to get them ready for Christmas, I’m really talking about the entirety of the fourth quarter. So I would like you to have a plan, which takes you from October all the way up to the end of December, and gives you a really good sense of what you’re trying to achieve in this time of year.

Now, A quick caveat before we get too much further. If you’re listening to this and thinking I’m not a Christmas brand because, for example, You mostly do school supplies, so back to school is your key time period, or maybe you’re a summer focused brand or a wedding focused brand and Christmas isn’t as relevant to you as to other people.

Then I would say everything that we’re talking about here, that everything that we’re exploring. think instead about your peak time period. Whatever the time that is, everything that we’re going to be talking about here is really aligned, it can be substituted for whatever your peak time period is.

But for the majority of people, you’re going to be finding that Christmas is an absolute key time of year for you. And in specific, we have those six weeks that are the run up to Christmas that are known in retail as the golden weeks. And that’s usually because anywhere up to 50 percent or even sometimes more of your annual revenue can come in those final six weeks.

So almost everything that we do is about building up for that time and making sure that we have got everything covered, everything thought about, and everything as pre prepared as we possibly can to give ourselves the best chance of focusing on just two things during that time and that is delighting the customer and making sales.

All of your strategy looking at that time period really needs to have that in mind. What can you pull out of that busy time period into quieter times of the year so that you have got the best chance of achieving what you want to during the fourth quarter. The reason that I like to include that October run up into the Christmas as well is because even though the majority of your sales are going to come later, really, when it comes to talking about Christmas, you may want to have some element of a soft launch.

That’s to say product out there, even if it’s not your main focus from that October time period, because there are going to be people who want to shop early, who are going to be thinking about spreading the cost of Christmas. And so it’s good to be ready for them, even though we know that the majority of sales will come that much later.

Why are we talking about Christmas now (at the start of summer!)?

Catherine Erdly: And why talk about this now? Well, the best time to start getting ready for Christmas is probably in January, just after the Christmas before. But if you haven’t got started getting ready in January, then now is the second best time because everything that I touched on in terms of being able to take some of that busy work, take some of that stress and strain out of this time period and bring it forward into a quieter time of year will be beneficial.

Building a Christmas Strategy: First analyze what happened last Christmas

Catherine Erdly: So how do you go about creating a strategy? Well, if you are listening to this and thinking, I don’t even know where to start, the best place to start is by looking at the Christmas just gone. Let’s assume you’ve had a Christmas previously.

If you haven’t had a Christmas previously, you’re going to have to build your Christmas plan based on a lot more assumptions. But for most of you, I’m guessing this isn’t going to be your first Christmas. So looking back at the Christmas just gone is the first thing that I would suggest. Inside the Resilient Retail Club, there is a session called Christmas Lessons Learned Strategy that we do every January.

You can see a recording of it. You can do it at any time of the year. I usually suggest doing it in January because that’s when it’s freshest in your mind. And believe it or not, I’m sure there are already things that have faded from your memory from last Christmas, even if you felt like they were burnt into your brain.

But I always like to start by looking back before we look forward. You get your lessons learned, but you can, even if your memories have faded, still have a think about what worked well and added value. What would you do again? What do more of? And where were the problems? Where were their issues? It can feel uncomfortable and confronting to think about things that went wrong, but actually this is your chance to identify ways in which you can improve Christmas year on year.

And so don’t miss out on this opportunity to make sure that you’ve gone back over and have that that thought process about what worked well and then where the gaps are.

Building a Christmas Strategy: What is your intention for this year?

Catherine Erdly: Once you’ve done that, you can then move on to start thinking more about what is your intention for this year. So, before we start building a strategy, I always like to start with the end in mind, as it were.

And that’s to say that what I I would like you to do is to think about what is your goal, what is your main outcome that you want for Christmas. And so, that might be different things. You might have a particular sales goal that you want to hit. Maybe you have a revenue number in mind. Revenue or sales that you want to get to that would, for you, represent a great Christmas.

Maybe you want to, Make sure that you don’t run out of your bestsellers. That’s going to be your key focus this Christmas. Maybe you are going to focus on not burning out. Maybe you’re going to focus on not being up till 2am every week trying to get orders out. Maybe you just want to ease everything so that you don’t have this feeling of panic around Black Friday where you haven’t really planned out all of your promotional strategy.

You haven’t really planned out what you actually want to be offering to your customers at this time of year. And so everything feels really knee jerk and really difficult. So maybe your goal is all about ease and being prepared and trying to avoid the drama. Maybe your goal is to get your own Christmas shopping done in September so you don’t have to simultaneously deliver Christmas for your customers and for your family at the same time.

Whatever that is, It’s really important to start off by identifying that. And then from there I would encourage you to think about perhaps three different things that will grow your sales. So if you do have a revenue goal in mind, which many of you will have both a revenue goal and perhaps a personal goal like actually enjoying Christmas at the end of it.

Building a Christmas Strategy: How much are you going to make this year?

Catherine Erdly: Then the next thing I would suggest that you do is you start thinking about what do you actually think you’re going to take? How much money do you think you’re going to take this year? And what are some of the ways that you’re going to drive that? This is all stuff that we delve into in a lot more detail inside the Resilient Retail Club and we’ll definitely be covering it in our Christmas Strategy Challenge that we have coming up.

But effectively you’ve got to start by thinking about how much money you’re going to take and I would suggest that you look at it by your different channels. 

So for example, your website, your Etsy store, wholesale, or your shop and your website, depending on what your setup is. 

But I would also encourage you to look at it by month. So you have an idea of by month, what you think you’re going to be taking. 

The other reason for doing this, there are lots of reasons for doing this. Number one helps you set goals, get excited about this time of year. Number two helps you really understand how much money you might have to play with in terms of being able to have additional expenses at this time of year. And number three, it also will really help with identifying those pinch points because the worst time to figure out that you don’t have enough space, enough people, enough product, enough material supplies, time to send out all of your orders. The worst time to figure that out is around Black Friday or whatever your peak selling time is.

Whereas if you could figure that out previously, if you could go through, do this exercise, work out what you think your sales are going to be, how much you think you’re going to take, you can then start planning and preparing basically to do a double check. So one thing I often work on with mastermind businesses, especially when they’re people who are fast growth, one of the key things that we do for them to prepare for the fourth quarter is we work out a realistic estimate of how much we think they’re going to take.

And then we usually convert that into a unit number. So we work out how many units we think they’re going to sell. Then we can say, right, this means this many orders a day, this many orders a week, and it helps you really map out, okay, well, if that’s the case, if I’m going to do 45, 000 pounds in November, That’s this many orders.

Okay, can physically we dispatch 40 orders a day? What would happen? And again, it’s having those thought processes now mean that you are not having them in the middle of November when it’s too late to recruit or you suddenly have to start scrambling. Now it may be that your numbers are nowhere near that high, or maybe they’re way higher, who knows, but whatever your situation, doing this exercise and having a think about how much you think you’re going to be taking will help you really envisage how much help you need, how much space you need, how many products you need, how many materials you need.

And that’s it for today. People sometimes don’t like this because they feel like it’s tempting fate, but I think, you know, be sensible about it. It’s not like you’re going to necessarily go out and buy expensive things just on the fact that you’ve predicted these sales, but it just lets you get ready in the most flexible possible way so that you can meet that demand.

Once you have then effectively thought about what you want to be doing at Christmas, what you want your sales to be, start thinking about some of the ways that you’re going to drive those sales, some of your key focuses, then you can start making yourself a to do list of things that you need to be done.

And again, don’t forget to keep trying to pull those to do’s out of that peak time period. Don’t set yourself the task of updating your website, for example, in November. Lots of businesses, and I fully support this, they have a cutoff point past about September where they don’t make any major changes to the business.

So no moving your fulfillment center, no moving your website, no changing email software, anything like that. I really highly recommend that you just hold on to those and tell yourself that’s a 2025 job. So think about what you’re going to get done before the peak time period so that you are prepared and ready to go.

And as I said, this whole exercise is all about moving busy work or things that could be done, anything that could be done ahead of time, moving them out of the peak period. So in the peak period, you can focus on just sales, delighting your customers. 

We are going to be talking about this lots more over the next few weeks as I mentioned at the beginning of this episode, but here’s your starter.

When we’re getting ready to think about Christmas, I want you to think back on last year. How was last year for you? How do you want this year to be? What are your sales goals? What do you feel like you’re going to be doing to drive them to hit those sales goals? What are going to be some of the key activities that you need to do in your business and start making yourself that list?

If you have identified this and discover that actually you do need to hire more people or find a bigger space or whatever it may be, this is the great time to start doing it so that you’re not leaving that all to the last minute. 

Next week, I’m going to be joined by Mike Cole, who is a coach, and we’re going to be discussing the more personal mindset side of getting ready for Christmas and how you can prepare yourself as the business founder.

So come along next week and tune in. Otherwise, If you want Instagram at resilient retail club and let me know where you’re listening. I always love to see everyone sharing whether listening to the podcast, tell me what your plans are for Christmas. I’d love to hear it and I’ll see you next week.

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