Why Are Last Order Dates Important?
Are you clearly advertising your last order dates for Christmas? If you have been doing this for a while you might have noticed that things can get slightly chaotic at this time of year. Many report 80% or more of their annual sales in the final quarter. By December things are really moving quickly. During all this activity it is easy to drop the ball. It is easy to take orders that you cannot deliver in time for Christmas and it is easy to miss out on orders because your customers suspect it is already too late to order from you.
It is therefore important that you calculate last orders dates early. You should know these and be advertising these at the beginning of December and if you ship overseas you should be looking at some overseas last order dates from November onwards.
How Many Last Order Dates Do You Need?
It is likely you have different types of products. Some products you will have in stock, they are quick to wrap and post and therefore these should have the latest possible last order dates for Christmas in order that you can take as many orders as possible. Other products you might have in stock might be more time consuming to wrap and difficult to post. You might need specialist packaging and to arrange courier services etc. This might take a day or two throughout the rest of the year but remember how busy you are at this time of the year. How many orders like this you might have. Take this into account when planning last order dates for these items.
Think about items that you have to make or order in. Do you have enough materials? Do you need to order giclee prints from your supplier? What is their usual lead time on these? Will that be any longer at this busy time of the year? Make sure that you factor this in to your calculations.
Are you shipping overseas? Have you checked with your postal service who should have accurate delivery times for delivery across the world.
Make sure that you are aware of all the different types of orders you are likely to encounter and how long it will take you to fulfill them.
How To Calculate Last Order Dates For Christmas
Start with last posting dates advertised by your postal service. Make sure you look at the service that you use. Is it first class, second class, signed for etc? If you order first and second class services you could offer both dates, however, I would suggest you work on second class dates only because if you fall behind for any reason you can always send your last few parcels first class at your own expense to get them there on time!
Next factor in how long it takes you to ship each product. Is it ‘off the shelf‘ or do you have to make it or order it in? Factor in all lead times. Then also factor in weekends or any holidays in between that could add any further delays. Also check whether your postal service is expecting any delays due to the pandemic and other supply chain issues many are experiencing right now.
Keep It Simple
You want to be clear to customers when last order dates for Christmas are but don’t offer them too many options. That might just create confusion and put people off ordering. If you can identify ‘ready to ship‘ orders on your website this will be helpful especially as last order dates draw near.
The following banner was used by Clare Allan this year. Here Clare keeps things really simple with just 2 dates which is very easy for customers to grasp. She gives herself plenty of time to order in prints if she is not already stocking them with her 3rd December cut off and for cards and calendars which she has in stock she has a later cutoff.
Note how Clare also directs people to a local gallery where they can still purchase right up until Christmas Eve too! Clare is breaking early for Christmas this year but your cut off dates might be later! You might also have more ready to ship stock available too!
Where To Advertise Last Order Dates
Advertise your last order dates for Christmas in as many places as you can. Ensure that you have clear banners on your website. If you create a clear image using Canva, for example, you can easily add this not only to your homepage but to your shop page as well as perhaps some of your range pages and other pages you might be linking customers to in your emails and social media so that they are always aware before ordering.
Be sure to send a mailing to customers well ahead of last order dates. This will encourage people to act sooner and ease the pressure later. Also send a mailing just before the last order date. This will encourage last minute sales that you might otherwise miss. If you can filter overseas addresses on your mailing list ensure that you send extra early emails to overseas customers in order for them not to miss overseas order deadlines.
Ensure that you mention all last order dates in social media in advance as well as just before the last order date. Use the same image you use on the website for familiarity.
The Importance Of Continual Updates
At this time of year everybody is looking for the attention. There is lots of attention out there as potential customers prepare for Christmas and you can be sure your competitors are trying to get that attention for themselves. Advertising last order dates for Christmas isn’t just about avoiding disappointment, it is a great way to get your customer’s attention during this very busy period and direct them to you and your products.
Use every opportunity to achieve this and remember too that this is a very busy time of year for everybody. People will not read EVERY email or EVERY social post. By sending out lots of them, however, people are much more likely to see at least one of them.
So Is That It At The Last Order Date?
No not at all. I will talk a little more about that shortly! Make sure you are on my mailing list so you don’t miss it! You might also want to take a look at some of my other Christmas holiday season posts.