While June may have most people thinking about long weekends, days at the beach and boatloads of BBQ’s if you own a product based business those visions of beach balls will also have to share some headspace with the holidays.
For most of us, temps are just now starting to feel like summer (Here in Upstate NY we finally broke 60!) As excited as it is to finally have some fun in the sun product based businesses should also be focusing on the next big selling season (which is traditionally marked by snowfall)
If you’re planning to approach retail stores and buyers for holiday and don’t have anything in the works yet I have some challenging news…you've got some hustling ahead of you.
Retail buyers work much further in advance. You've probably noticed merchandise for the next big calendar holiday hitting your favorite retailers shelf pretty early. (like, earlier than you are prepared to start thinking about it) When I was in corporate sales with the NYC-based women's accessories company I wrote most of my holiday orders the first week of May! Some of the retailers we worked with even had their holiday wrapped up before the end of the first quarter.
Before you start completely cursing my name it’s important to remember that the bigger the retailer, the further in advance they work. The smaller the store the closer to need they tend to write. I'm not saying you're out of the running for holiday, I'm just saying you need to start thinking about your plan now.
If you had been planning to reach out to your favorite store in October or November with holiday items you will probably be turned down a lot because all their money has already been spent. Set yourself up for a home run this holiday season by following my quick and easy action plan:
Step 1: Start by Reviewing current top sellers
Identify what has been working really well for you. Chances are if your customers love something the will also love to give it as a gift. You may consider offering your hot item in different packaging options for holiday to make it feel different and a little more special.
Step 2: Decide on your design direction
Are you planning to add new prints + patterns? Update packaging or create new sets with items you currently carry? Decide what your plan will be for holiday and get to work.
Pro tip: While snowmen, gingerbread men and true holiday colors and prints will always sell, they have a limited shelf life which means not every store is comfortable carrying these types of items. If you’re planning to offer seasonal prints and styles consider balancing your offering out with other options that can carry over into the new year.
Step 3: Create a supplemental line sheet that can be inserted into your catalog.
While you can always add your holiday collection(s) to your current catalog, that tends to cost more money than adding the collections as a separate pdf or supplemental line sheet. Having a pdf of the latest collections to send to buyers will also help them to focus on the new so they don't have to search through collections they've already seen. The easier you can make the process the better response you'll have from buyers.
Step 4: Start reaching out to stores.
While large chains and department stores have booked most if not all of their holiday already smaller boutiques and local shops tend to purchase closer to need which means you still time! I’ve found it always helps to try and have a conversation with your buyer before sending holiday to learn as much as you can about their needs for the season. Here’s a sample script you can use to start the conversation:
I’m in the process of finalizing my holiday collections and I wanted to give you a sneak peek at some of the awesome new styles being added to the line! Can you believe we’re already halfway through the year?! I don’t think I’ll ever get used to the fact that while other people are thinking about backyard BBQ’s we’re already talking about (Christmas).
I’m curious to know, when do you start working on holiday? I know everyone works on a different schedule and I want to be sure you have everything you need from me when you start working on your Q4 orders.
Now you’re ready to hit the ground running for this holiday season! Have more questions about preparing your product line for Q4? Come join me over in the wholesale collective a Free Facebook community for product based business owners!