Although its not yet even September, many of you will have started planning your product lines and promotional campaigns months ago to ensure coverage for the holiday period. Your stockists will also be well into Christmas planning, and will be looking to source this year's must-have gifts and impulse-buy items.

However far along (or behind) you feel you are, here is my helpful checklist for making sure you are fully prepped for the holiday season:

  1. Stock-Up
    It can be a tricky business working out just how much stock you need, especially if this is your first holiday season. Taking pre-orders early can help with this, and then allowing a proportion of stock for some last-minute orders. If you have previous years sales figures to go by, your estimates will be easier to work out. One common method is to see how much your business has grown in the past 12 months and apply this to last year's stock levels. Allow for any other factors like a stockist who you expect will do very well at Christmas time, or any product lines you are confident will be extremely popular. If cashflow allows, having some extra stock available will avoid the frustration of having to turn orders down.

  2. Look at Your Team
    If you are expecting a major increase in orders, consider whether your current team will be able to deal efficiently with the extra workload. You may need to ask them to work extra hours, or even think about hiring in some extra help to cover the holiday period.

  3. Review Your Workflow
    While it is quieter, take some time to review your order process and see if there are any ways you can make time and cost savings. This is the perfect time to take a trial with OrderSpace, for example, because you need to be at your most efficient for the festive season.

  4. Delivery Planning
    Make sure you have delivery options in place that suit your stockists needs. If they are likely to need a quick turnaround, for example. Review your current providers and see if there are any new options available to you.

  5. Stationery Stock-Up
    Running out of the everyday supplies you need to be able to fulfil orders can really hold things up, and end up being very expensive if you have to source things in a hurry. I'm thinking about things like postal bags and boxes, labels, printed branding etc. Take the time now to make sure you have more than enough of everything you need.

  6. Organised Workspace
    In a similar vein to the stationery and supplies check, just make sure your warehouse, workshop or studio is in a tidy and organised state. If you know where everything is, and can easily reach items you use on a regular basis, you will enjoy a calmer and more efficient holiday season!

  7. Communication Planning
    Let your stockists know about all the important timescales and deadlines. If you have specific delivery dates and deadlines for ordering by, communicate these as soon as possible and send reminders too. This can double-up as marketing communication if you time it correctly.

  8. Marketing and Advertising
    Think about how you want to market your business this Christmas. Do you need to make changes to your website? If you use Google Adwords or any other online advertising tools you may like to set up some specific keywords and advertisements. Social media campaigns need planning and executing over the next month or so.

Its enough to make your head spin! But here's hoping, with careful planning and thought, the 2018 holiday season is your best yet!