Tuesday, December 13, 2011

Managing Life During the Holidays as an Independent Online Merchant

The slow recovery of the economy and weak job market has created a shift in the American workforce. Instead of working the typical 40-hour week, many Americans work from home and/or start their own small businesses to generate the income they need. Quite a few people have found some success becoming online merchants of products they make themselves. Online merchants can actually make pretty good money, if their products are in-demand and they market their stores well. If you are an online merchant, you’ve probably noticed that things can get pretty crazy around the holidays. Inventory management, order management, and life management can all become a little tricky when customers are visiting your site in droves and ordering more products that you can feasibly make in a short period of time.

Here are some tips to help online merchants keep things under control during the holiday season:

1. Plan ahead for the influx of orders. October and November might be slow months for you, so you could spend some extra time making more products for your store during these months. Then you’d have enough products to send to all your interested customers in December. If you didn’t start planning ahead this year, don’t worry. There are other things you can do to help make things less stressful. Read on.

2. Ask for help from friends and family members, especially if you run your online store all by yourself. Packaging and shipping products to customers can be very time consuming, especially when you’ve had a lot of orders come in. You might want to ask people you’re close to for a little assistance. You could even compensate them for their time in some way. If you’d prefer not to pay them, you could offer to do something else for them (like babysit their kids or knit them a sweater).

3. Make use of affordable small business software you find online. If you know you have trouble keeping track of your inventory, get some inventory management software. If you know you get a little frazzled when a lot of orders come in, look into order management software. Software like this can help you keep track of your orders, inventory, and shipments. It can also make your life a lot easier.

4. Communicate with your customers. Email them if you know that their order won’t be arriving as soon as they’d like. Be open and honest with them about what’s going on with their order, and they’re likely to be more understanding about any delays.

5. Remember that the holidays are a time for people to relax and enjoy life. Managing your online store may be time-consuming, but it shouldn’t be stressful. Don’t be too hard on yourself if you can’t accomplish everything you’d like to. Just do your best and enjoy your successes!

This guest post was written by Carolyn with Blog Content Guild.

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