Selling Successfully (Your One-Stop Resource for Setting Up, Managing and Marketing)

It's That Time Again - Prepare Your Shop for the Holiday

Summer is over and the holidays are fast approaching. Typically during the summer months sales are slow and far between, but come September visitor numbers and sales begin to increase with folks looking to purchase holiday decor or gifts for friends, family and co-workers, or a special treat for themselves. Below is a list of tips to help you prepare for the holiday boom and increase your chance for a successful holiday selling season.

1. Review your policies and provide customer contact information. Providing a customer service contact phone number or Skype contact helps potential buyers feel more secure and increases your chances of making a sale. Be sure to include information on the last day to order and ship to assure the item is received in time for holiday giving. If you offer layaway, review your terms with holidays sales in mind.

2. Add cross-sell and up-sell opportunities in the `Other Non-searchable Information' field. This means, for example, suggesting table linens for the dinnerware, silverware and glassware items or or a matching pair of earrings for a necklace. Providing more buying choices means more chances to sell online. Reminder: Do not put shipping information or promotional information in the item descriptions, this is a `no-no' for Google Search and Google Shopping.

3. Review your item titles and descriptions. Do they contain relevant keywords specific to the item? Do you have unnecessary punctuation in your titles, such as exclamation marks, pound signs, asterisk, @ signs, etc. If so, remove them, these are also a `no-no' for Google Search and Google Shopping. Include item measurements and details about the item's condition such as flaws or wear, if present.

4. Spruce up your shop home page. Add a decorative holiday border to your logo or a holiday graphic. Review your About Us section. Does it note the types of items you sell in the first sentence? Update the page to include information about yourself such as an artist statement, associations you belong to and feedback from happy customers. You can also add holiday graphics or other pictures to the About Us section using the FTP tool.

5. Develop a Social Media plan. Use social networks to market your shop and your items. Post items for sale in your shop to your Facebook and Google+ pages. Create holiday Pinterest boards and pin, pin, pin. Ruby Lane has added share buttons to the Add or Modify item page making it convenient for you to share new or updated items to your social networks. And don't forget to Tweet your items. If you are not using a Social Network we encourage you to do so, they are free and are a terrific way to market your items to a large audience.

6. Add items on a regular basis throughout the season. Adding items to show up in new arrivals is a great way to keep your shop out in front of potential buyers. Also, exclusive shops can earn free lane featuring by adding 7 items in a lane in a 7 day period as long as they have 10 items in the lane they wish to be featured in. Shops who add new items also earn free click credits.

7. Are you prepared to ship? Be sure to have plenty of shipping supplies on hand, including shipping labels, tissue paper, boxes and envelopes. Have an adequate supply of business cards and thank-you cards on-hand. Use decorative holiday stickers to spruce up your packaging. Keep your inventory organized and clean and ready to ship promptly.

8. Are your photos the best they can be? Be sure your photos are in focus and show the item to its best advantage and in full in the primary photo. Use the Automatic Imaging Processing (AIP) tool to remove backgrounds from the primary image for a more professional presentation. Show the item from various angles. Provide a photo of the manufacturer's mark and/or fineness mark if present on the item.

Preparing your shop in advance of the holiday shopping season will eliminate unnecessary stress, allow you to provide excellent customer service and keep you on track to achieve sales success.