{Business Tips} – Sweet 16 Last Minute Tips To Increase Holiday Sales Plus Etsy Hot Tip of the Month

There are some excellent tips from last year for improving holiday sales by Myra HERE and Karen HERE.

Thanksgiving is late this year so many of us, myself included, have been lulled into a sense of “we have plenty of time” – we don’t.

These are some things we need to do:

gorgeous sweater coat by darryl black (nice boots, too)

gorgeous blanket coat by darryl black (nice boots, too)

1. Check your supplies. Get organized. YOU CAN’T SELL WHAT YOU DON’T HAVE. But, you don’t want to overstock and make no money. This is tricky stuff even if we are working with historical data for our shop’s sales. Maybe get yourself a magic 8 ball (I find this to be pretty effective).

Put yourself in your customer’s shoes (this will give us a great excuse to buy those kick-ass boots we have our eyes on, like Darryl’s model <—- here) – and think GIFT.

Look at your makings, put on your new boots and think – “If I were buying this as a gift what would I need to know, how would I want this to look, how would I want this transaction to happen?”

2. Now hop over to Blugrin (Betsi) where there is a great tool to do QUICK EDITS.

3. Do you have variables set for your listings so customers can provide their CHOICES AT TIME OF PURCHASE?

We want to eliminate back and forth emails as much as possible plus I think people hesitate to purchase late in the season if they have to write in information – sometimes this can’t be helped but if you can add a variable – get it in there. Remove all barriers to a customer’s purchase.

bracchartExample – I sell a lot of bracelets, but not on Etsy and not as gifts, because sizing is tricky. I am adding this chart into my bracelet listings —->

(although I will still offer the advice on how to measure)

as well as guarantee free shipping back and forth after the holidays for bracelets that do not fit.

It’s a gamble and won’t work for everyone, but after putting myself in my customer’s boots, I think this will make them much more likely to order. How are your listings hurting your gift sale orders? Is there some kind of quick fix you can do to increase sales over the next few weeks?

4. GIFT CERTIFICATES – now that Etsy has instant downloads this is a no-brainer for everyone. If you are outside the country where most of your sales happen you need to do this.

HERE are some templates.

5. COUPON CODES FOR REPEAT BUSINESS – Etsy will email a thank you with a coupon code after you have a sale. If you are not using  this – get this set up. Better yet, do this yourself and get them added to your mailing list at the same time. Sign up for a free account at Mailchimp.

6. SHIPPING – Etsy has added shipping profiles so get your listings linked & you can adjust quickly to priority shipping as we get closer to Christmas.

Let people know in your listings you can gift box, include a holiday message and ship directly to their friends and family – they just need to enter the shipping address of the recipient when they make their payment and provide their holiday message in the comments area of their order. I have people ask me to ship to someone else often and even if the address is not entered with their payment (giving me shipping protection) I usually go ahead and do it – use your own judgement with this.

The USPS shipping deadlines for 2013 are HERE

7. The word GIFT in listing titles and tags – I have heard Etsy isn’t a fan of this since everything is a gift and it seems like a pointless tag, but I still think people search with it – just use it in a specific sense, not as a stand alone tag. If a customer searches ‘teacher gift’ and we have only tagged teacher we will not show up in the search so adding the specific tag and words in our title “teacher gift” could be a good idea (assuming of course, our item is actually a teacher gift).

8. SALES – If you like to shop sales, you can safely assume your customers do, too. Black Friday through Cyber Monday is probably the best time to give your best offer. Later on, customers will be more desperate and not so geared toward pricing. I don’t mean this ‘more desperate’ in a bad way and some people are always looking for sales, but if customers are thinking your best offers are coming later they are less likely to shop early. Later on they will probably be less price conscious and you can always have a NICK OF TIME sale at the last minute to move out ready made stock.

Have a countdown to the sale. Make sure everyone knows the sale is coming – use your teams, blog, Facebook, Twitter, Mailchimp, tell 2 friends, etc- create a sense of urgency – let people know this is your best sale of the year. Use coupon codes and tag with ON SALE or Cyber Monday Sale or whatever you think customers might be searching. People love FREE SHIPPING. Update your banner AND avatar with this – customers looking at your item will have your avatar clearly visible this year!

9. READY TO SHIP – this makes a great category or tag to let people know it will be on its way FAST. Then actually ship it fast. Don’t assume people need their holiday gift for Christmas – they might need it for the Christmas party 10 days before. Your ready to ship orders should go out the same day or the next day or don’t bother labeling them ready to ship.

10. BEST SELLERS – get your best sellers into your featured items, but remember to show some variety here.

11. LIMITED OFFERS – do some limited offers on Facebook and Twitter – run a lunchtime sale with a free gift, etc. Have fun with this, go on Twitter and offer 50% off to the first person who tells you Frosty’s last name (except use a question that actually has an answer) – don’t worry that no one will answer you. You are sending your good energy out into the universe with this stuff – you are proclaiming, “Send me customers, I am ready for them!”

12. GUARANTEE –  offer the best guarantee you are comfortable with then allow yourself to get a little uncomfortable and offer an even better one.

13. GO MOBILE – answer your emails immediately (you can sleep in January).

sample gift card

sample gift card

14. ORDER MOO CARDS FOR CUSTOMERS TO USE AS GIFT CARDS (or print your own) – don’t assume the end user is getting your business card – they aren’t. But if you make a mini TO and FROM card

and print your website on there discreetly – it will end up in the recipient’s hands (include your regular business card for the buyer, too).

Moo cards are on sale until the 17th – and arrive fast so get on this. My card without my info (you can print your info on the back) is HERE.

15. COUNTDOWN to your shipping cut-off dates – again create urgency. A “get this before it’s too late” way of thinking – make them jump out of bed in the morning and run to check your countdown! Visualize people all over the world throwing on robes and slippers and running down the stairs to their computer to see how much time they have left to order from you

(visualization with a focused intention is very powerful, so maybe visualize them finding an extra stash of cash they didn’t know they had inside their robe pocket – and visualize them doing a little happy dance knowing they have even more to spend in your shop, ka-ching).

16. ASSUME YOUR PACKAGES WILL BE THROWN AROUND – package your makings super-well now. If you think maybe you haven’t used enough packing material – you haven’t. Put a note in there asking people to please reuse or recycle the packing material, but don’t skimp. Nothing should be moving around inside your box – nothing breakable should be touching the sides of your box. The most stressed people on the planet during the holidays are probably delivery people – assume your package is in for something like what the contestants on Survivor go through between your house and your buyer’s.

And now for my hot tip of the month – RELAX

(and I realize I am saying this after just stressing you out with a long list of things to do, yes, I like to do things like this to people, it helps me relax)

these aren’t kidneys we are shipping. We aren’t saving lives here. It may feel like the world will end if Little Susie’s sweater doesn’t arrive on time, but the world really will just keep on spinning. Her mother will run to the store and buy something else. You may be out 50 bucks but will somehow manage to pay your rent anyway.

Some things are just outside our control (and sometimes the things that are inside our control we screw up, too). If you run out of your biggest seller or sales are not as good as you had hoped there is always next year to figure out ways to improve this stuff. Mark your final ship date on your calendar (this date is totally up to you!) and celebrate it.

The holidays only come around once a year. They are magical – let’s not miss them. We never know what the future holds for any of us or who will be in our lives this time next year so take the time to put a lot of Merry in your Christmas and Happy in your Hanukkah everyone! xo

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  1. Great post with a few new insights.
    Thanks for putting it together.

  2. These are really fantastic!

  3. Wonderful ideas Cat! I’m definitely going to try the Gift Certificates with download this year. You’ve also given me the reminder to get more listed in the shop. Life has been busy lately and my shop shelves are a bit bare. I need to fix that before the Thanksgiving weekend!!

  4. This is a really nicely laid out and informative article with good additional references. TYSM!!!

  5. Amazing! Love the MOO gift tag idea! Brilliant!

  6. Great tips! You should write for Etsy too!

  7. you are amazing Cat!So much good advice here I don’t know where to begin!I *shamefully* don’t have gift certificates and have not known where to start.Can you possibly take more of your precious time and give me a bit more detail on how to do this?I am having trouble with the ‘relaxing ‘ part of this !

    • Hi Nancy- This is what I am doing (there is probably some easier way I haven’t thought of, but this will work):


      I am going to list options for U.S. / Canada / Everywhere Else – one for guys, one for girls – just to personalize the certificates better, it isn’t necessary to do this

      So basically I made the certificate with no certificate # and list that on Etsy as the picture, then I save the same certificate with a cert# – when I make the listing I upload (it’s super easy) the certificate with the one of a kind number and an instruction sheet which basically tells the recipient:

      1. go to polaritylocket.com (my etsy shop)
      2. choose a locket and add it to your cart
      3. mark payment method as money order
      4. note gift certificate # in notes to seller section
      5. purchase
      6. sit back and wait for the mailman!

      When this sells I have to relist with a new upload with a different cert #.

      I did this last year without the digital download (I emailed the gift certificates for people to print) and sold a few.

      If you are going to do a specific $ amount instead of choice of item you could probably make the cert# a coupon code (specific code for each gift certificate sold), they would have to spend more than the certificate (but probably will anyway and if they don’t they will convo you because the code won’t work and you can adjust the coupon or do the money order payment/comment section thing with the coupon code) – I hope this makes sense.

      • For the relaxing part I suggest red wine and chocolate – my views right now are 50% what they were last year at this time … so I may have more relaxing time than I expect, of course I won’t be able to afford the red wine and chocolate though …. :)

  8. Thanks guys- Marlaina- if you use a coupon code you could make the coupon code your gift certificate number but the amount the customer spends has to be 10% more than the coupon code, this could still work if you sell $20 gift certificates and have $25 items, for example – but I am just including instructions with the downloaded gift certificate on how to use it – last year I told them to mark money order as a payment method and to include the gift certificate number in the comments to seller section – everyone figured it out.

  9. Evon Cassier says:

    Wicked good information. Thank you!

  10. Brilliant ideas!

    About the gift certificate idea, how would one go about honoring this? A coupon code? Having the receiver of the certificate email you?

  11. Love all these tips, especially the one about ordering Moo cards so customers can use as gift tags. I include gift boxes for my customers – all handmade.