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Planning Jewelry Ecommerce for Holiday 2020

Given the fact that 2020 has been such a strange and difficult year for many reasons, you probably can’t even imagine the holiday season at this point. Alternatively, you may actually be looking forward to the holidays, since you feel confident that you’ll be able to make up for any sales you lost in March and April, when COVID-19 was at its peak in the US.

This podcast episode will be released around the first day of fall, so you might be drinking your pumpkin spice latte or, if you’re like me, buying all the fall-scented candles from Home Goods. You may not be ready for candy canes and Santa Claus, but I hope this episode will encourage you to think about holiday planning and why it matters now. Stick with me.

Many years ago, I used to work as a sales associate at Macy’s in the Newport Center Mall in Jersey City, NJ. This particular store location was used as a merchandising model for other stores in the region. They would start decorating the store in September so that merchandising leaders from other stores could come study our store’s example. I was always struck by the sight of garland and red bows around Labor Day, but now it makes sense to me. Some of the biggest retailers in the world start planning their holiday strategies in August and sometimes even as early as July.

If you’re a smaller jewelry brand, you don’t necessarily have to start planning that early. However, if you haven’t planned your holiday marketing strategy by the time this episode is released, then you definitely need to get in gear – now – like immediately after you finish listening to this episode.

Why is early holiday planning so important, especially this year? In a recent blog post published on Klaviyo’s website, Joshua Behr, the director of ecommerce and digital marketing at the Amerex Group, said, “It’s going to be very important for brands to start prospecting and looking for customers in September. The marketplace for holiday advertising is going to be very crowded with a lot of brands making their shift to online. Brands need to get out there early and often to find new customers”.

So where should you begin, and what timeline should you be following? Let’s break it down month by month.

September: Reflect on what happened last year, set your goals, and assess what you need moving forward.

Of course, 2020 is much different than any year before it. The COVID-19 pandemic completely blew many jewelry brands off course. However, you can still assess your performance from last year and determine what worked and what could use some improvement. Did you get most of your sales from your email marketing campaigns? If so, invest some more time, money, and energy into your email strategy. You can send more frequent emails or take steps now to grow your list before November arrives. When did you get the most sales, and how can you focus your promotions around those busy times?

Reviewing customer data and updating your customer personas will also be important. The Klaviyo blog post I mentioned earlier asserts, “in a year that’s been plagued with supply chain and logistical challenges, brands will need to be particularly attuned to consumer shopping habits and adjust their marketing strategies and messages to entice shoppers to make purchases earlier in order to receive them in time for the holidays this year.” Now’s the time to get on the same wavelength as your customers and be a customer whisperer.

If you’re a brand-new jewelry brand without any historical data, then you may just want to try to reflect on some of your favorite brands and how they’ve handled holiday marketing in the past. Or Google the term “best holiday marketing campaigns”, and you’ll see so many inspiring examples that you can adapt for your budget and available resources.

In September, you’ll definitely want to set realistic holiday sales goals. If you’re an established jewelry brand, then you know what’s possible, and you can determine a goal based on past results. If you’re a new jewelry brand, then try to determine how many units you can realistically sell given the size of your current prospective customer base. Once you know your goals, you can start making decisions about what will help you achieve those goals. For example, if you already have an excellent Instagram presence and lots of engagement on your Instagram profile, then you’ll want to double down on your efforts with Instagram and decide exactly how you’ll be doing that, whether it means investing in better imagery, paying for ads, hiring a pro copywriter, or something else.

In addition, you’ll want to take stock of what you will need for the holidays. Do you have enough holiday-themed photo assets for your ecommerce store and your social media profiles? What are some of your best-selling products, and what can you do to push those as gifts? Do you need to make any technical or aesthetic changes to your website? For example, you’ll want to assess things like your mobile usability, your customer service information, your navigation and overall user experience, your product pages, your page load speed, etc. Do you need to hire a marketing partner or other outside collaborator to help you execute some of your ideas? Make a big list and start figuring out how you can get these things done in the next few weeks, ideally before Halloween.

October: Planning and gathering

Now that you have a strategy, and you know what you need in order to achieve your goals, you’ll want to assign a timeline that will guide you from early October through early January. Let’s pretend you decided to invest in your email marketing because you like the return it gave you last year. Then you will need to make a week-by-week plan that details the timing and frequency of your email marketing campaigns. You’ll also want to start thinking about the content of those emails. Definitely consider how you’ll be adjusting your marketing efforts around Black Friday/Cyber Monday as you get closer to the Christmas holiday.

Which promotions can you afford to offer your customers, and how do you want to distribute those promotions throughout the holiday season? What does holiday production and shipping look like for you? What is your shipping cutoff for Christmas? How will you adjust your return policy for gifting, if at all? These are all questions you need to be able to answer.

Furthermore, you’ll want to start looking at the list of things you decided you’ll need in September and see if anything is missing now that you have your plan. Will you need any additional photos for your emails? Will you need a graphic designer and/or copywriter to help you take your emails to the next level? October is all about gathering the resources you need, so you’re not scrambling to find them in November and December, when you should be 100% focused on the customer experience.

November: Time to get serious!

You’ve gathered everything you need, and you’ve implemented a detailed plan. Hopefully you’ve been following your plan thus far and have made any changes or updates that need to be made.
Depending on when your customers start shopping for holiday, you may see an increase in sales at the beginning of November or more toward the middle of the month. Regardless, you should be paying attention to those numbers and asking yourself if the reality of the situation is in line with your expectations. Look at Google Analytics and other analytics regularly. If anything isn’t going as expected, then the beginning of November is the last chance you really have to make last-minute changes.

December: Bring your A game.

You don’t really have the option to be disorganized or make mistakes. In late November and especially throughout December, you need to communicate regularly with customers and portray your brand in the best light. Make sure you’re proofreading everything, check that your product details are correct, and respond to customer inquiries and issues in a prompt manner. If you prepared adequately during the past few months, then you’ll have nothing else to do but focus on execution and on making your customers’ holidays happy and bright. Enjoy the fruits of your labor!

January: Keep going.

Don’t forget that the holiday season doesn’t stop in late December. In early January, some people may still be buying gifts. Maybe they forgot to buy someone a present, or maybe they didn’t get the thing they wanted from Santa. As a result, you should still be extending your holiday marketing strategy into early January before sales slow later that month.

Do you feel prepared for the holidays? Do you have high hopes for the season, or are you worried that COVID-19 will impact your ability to sell?