Christmas is fast approaching, and many retailers are already on the countdown to final product assortment. As a well-organized e-commerce merchant, you’re also looking to jump on the assortment planning bandwagon. However, the challenge for most retailers lies in determining what products to select for their holiday e-commerce assortments.
Essentially, product selection is at the core of holiday selling success or failure. Those who get it wrong often face the following consequences:
- Deadstock: Items that don’t move are a direct cost to your business.
- Lost opportunity: By having the wrong item in your holiday product mix, you lose the opportunity to move your company forward.
- Additional workload: With the wrong product stocked, you have delayed getting the right one and created extra work for yourself and your team.
So how do you ensure your product selection is well-suited for the holiday season? Here are some helpful tips:
Pay Close Attention to Amazon & eBay
Start studying the product selection of Amazon and eBay to get an idea of what product mix does best during the holidays. We’ve found, time and again, that the hot selling products for the big guys will also be the hot selling products for smaller e-commerce stores.
For instance, if you open up Amazon, you’ll see holiday specific sections on the homepage. At this time of writing, here’s what the homepage looks like:
Clicking on one of the icons under explore “Explore Holiday” will take you to the relevant webpage for that product or deal category. For instance, if you click on Holiday Toy List and view the top 100 toys, here’s what you get to see:
See What Products Won Last Year’s Holiday Season
Why look at last year’s holiday winners in 2017? Well, there’s a good chance that a major portion of holiday shoppers weren’t able to get their hands on last year’s hot sellers due to budget constraints and they don’t want to miss out this time around. Therefore, including last year’s holiday best sellers in your product selection could bring you a plethora of benefits.
The easiest way to find last year’s winners is by conducting a search on Google. Try the following search strings:
- Holiday products
- 2016 holiday products
- Holiday hot sellers
- 2016 holiday hot sellers
- Amazon hot sellers 2016
- Best sellers holidays 2016
- Christmas best sellers
- Christmas best sellers 2016
Each of these strings will present you with an informative list of last year’s hot sellers. For instance, if you search “2016 holiday products,” you see the following:
A lot of results reveal what holiday shoppers were splurging the cash on in 2016. For instance, one of the results showcases a list of products that sold well on Amazon.
That’s a lot of items from different categories to add for your product selection.
Research Pinterest & Instagram
Pinterest has its own search engine, while Instagram is big on hashtags. You can use these functions to discover and select new products.
On Pinterest, try search strings similar to the ones recommended in the previous section. For instance, if you search “holiday products,” you get to see the pins posted by other retail outlets.
Most of these pins are about holiday items. You can even check the original source (website) to see if there’s a supplier you could get in touch with.
In addition, you can search Pinterest boards for product selection ideas. A board is where people curate ideas on the theme of the board.
For holiday product selection, board contributors will likely post about products that people have or could have a knack for.
It’s worth mentioning that most products displayed on Pinterest are DIY. However, you can still find suppliers for such products on sites like Wish.com. There’s also the option of private label (where you make the product yourself), but sourcing seems more viable if you’re short on time.
On Instagram, you can leverage hashtags. Enter hashtags in the search bar to find and select products. Hashtags like #holidaypresents #holidaygifts and #christmaspresents should give you a wide range of results.
Of course, select items that meet your core customers’ needs so that your product selection generates revenue during holidays as well as post holidays.
Use Google Trends to Vet Products
Doing demand-related research helps you go deep into the viability of items, as well as explore if there’s a demand for items that sold well over the summer.
Google Trends is a tool you could use to see how frequently your potential product selection has been searched for in a specific period of item, ideally from October to December. This will let you know whether people are looking forward to seeing it retail or if it is on its way out.
For instance, if you are considering a trendy fitness accessory for your product selection, you could compare consumer interest in Apple Watch series 3 and Garmin Fenix 5X.
Based on this comparison, Apple Watch series 3 is trending much more highly than Garmin Fenix 5x and has had experienced major spikes in the past few weeks, especially around Black Friday and Cyber Monday. As a result, this would be the right product selection for your holiday season assortment.
Narrow Down Your Options
At this point you might have a few product selection ideas. It’s a best practice to run these ideas through a standard set of guidelines that top retailers use to narrow down their assortment. While these guidelines aren’t strict, they go a long way in minimizing business risk.
See if the products are:
- Easy to ship
- Small in dimensions
- In a stable or growing market
The general perspective is that the best product selection should have some moving parts, fit in the smallest of boxes, and sell for $200-$1000 with a profit margin of at least 30-40%.
Other than that, check if the product can be sourced easily. The final seal of approval requires the product to be easily available to source. Make a list of the products you’re planning to sell, and check their availability with local vendors.
In addition, check if the items could be dropshipped if you want to avoid storage and shipping hassles. Modalyst, for instance, allows merchants to sell millions of products without the financial risk of buying inventory upfront.
You can choose to source directly from Wish.com with their new Chrome Extension or from their vetted marketplace of independent brands. Their Shopify / BigCommerce app allows for one-click sourcing so within minutes (and no cost!) you can have a fantastic assortment of holiday items up on your store.
Evolving consumer preferences combined with the dominance of big players like Alibaba and Amazon have forced merchants to evolve. Smart ones are driving more sales and enhancing customer loyalty with a wider product mix using dropshipping. However, it’s crucial to not just expand your assortment, but expand it intelligently. Use the tips mentioned above to get your holiday product selection spot on and enjoy a season of festivities… and high profits.