Seller Handbook

Advice and inspiration for successfully running your Etsy shop

Seller Handbook

Etsy Success: Your Holiday Merchandising Guide

With this bigger-picture merchandising report, your shop can stay ahead of the game.

By Mary Andrews Oct 2, 2012
Photo by Smile Mercantile

As we gear up for the busy holiday season here at Etsy, we’re excited to publish a reformulated version of our previous Merchandising Desk Series, condensing the most important info from the series into a single report you can bookmark for reference throughout the rest of the year.

With this singular report, it’s our goal on the Merchandising Team to provide a navigation and planning guide for the holidays in a way that helps you stay ahead of the game and take advantage of this busy time of year instead of rushing to catch up at the last minute or missing the wave altogether.

Our aim with Etsy merchandising is to create a healthy balance between promotions for traditional holidays, seasonal changes, cultural events, and lifestyle trends. If you’d like to stay engaged with upcoming merchandising themes, use your own artistic voice to translate them into shop listings, photos, shop announcements, descriptions, tags, titles, sales promotions and more.

Throughout this merchandising guide, you’ll find the following information, listed by month:

  1. Key Marketing Campaigns: This section includes the highest level marketing themes and holidays Etsy will be highlighting during the listed month. It’s a good strategy to have relevant product lines fitting these themes made and listed early as Etsy plans out promotions and works with the media to help source relevant stories.
  2. Long-Lead Press Stories: This section includes high level marketing themes and holidays that media and press outlets plan for in advance. Knowing what themes the press is planning for allows you to plan, make and list any relevant products you have fitting these topics during the “long-lead” times the press is looking for them. For example, knowing media outlets create their February issues during November allows you to make and list your Valentine’s collection in November when it might get picked up by a magazine.
  3. Dates to remember: This section includes a list of important holidays, smaller holidays, and popular events to keep in mind and plan for. While many of the listed dates aren’t included in the highest level marketing campaigns or highlighted in the press, they are themes you might find featured across Etsy’s homepage, shopping pages, emails and trending in the media during that timeframe.
  4. We've also put together some tips to help you stock your shop for the holidays. We'll let you know the items that shoppers are looking for and how to merchandise your existing products to make them appealing to holiday shoppers. Stocking up early and optimizing your item listings for the holidays will not only help shoppers find what they are looking for, but will help Etsy staff and media outlets find your items for holiday gift stories. Okay, let’s get started!
Photo by Wishing Well Art

Tips for Stocking Up

Tweak your existing listings to appeal to holiday shoppers. Think about marketing the products you currently offer as gifts in a way that offers solutions for busy shoppers. Generally speaking, shoppers are looking for gifts by type, price, and recipient (and combinations of the three). Now, what do we mean by solutions? Simply put, shoppers are looking for gifts, and it's your job to demonstrate how this item is the perfect gift for their recipient.

Other solutions that shoppers may be interested in are those that help them save money (Can they save on shipping by buying a few of your items? Will this decor item look great even after the holidays?) and time (Does the item come gift wrapped and can you send it directly to their recipient?). Put important keywords that target recipients in your titles and tags, and make sure your description and photos highlight gifting ideas.

Gifts by Type: Help shoppers understand how your line of products fits into their gift list by describing the types of categories they’re looking for. Major shopping categories typically fit into one of the groupings below:

  • Decor and Entertaining: The holidays are prime-time for entertaining, and decor and entertaining-related purchases are a popular choice for gifts. Make sure to get these in your shop early, as decor shopping has already begun! Would your item make a great hostess gift for holiday parties or contribution to the office Secret Santa pool? Highlight this in your description.
  • Gadgets and Games: This is an important and popular category that we'd love to see more Etsy sellers get into. Don't forget those cases and accessories for the latest phones, tablets, e-readers and gadgets; they make a great accompaniment to the tech gifts which many will receive.
  • Useful and Utilitarian: With the state of the current economy, useful gifts are always welcome. If you sell bath soaps, what about adding laundry or cleaning soap in nice fragrances?
  • Personalization: Personalized gifts are a perennial holiday favorite. Are you able to add an embroidered, stamped, or printed initial or name to your existing items? What about customizing by location, like state, or another creative take on personalization? Providing a font or color chart makes it easy for your buyer to choose from the options you offer. Be sure to use keywords like "personalized," "custom," "name," and "initial" where appropriate!
  • Keepsakes: Is this a well-made item that's likely to be passed down from generation to generation? Mention that!
  • Novelty and Stocking Stuffers
  • Favors and Thank-You Gifts: If you have small, inexpensive items, consider selling them as a bundle for a slightly reduced price as party favors, or as an idea for unexpected gift recipients.

Gifts by Price: Shoppers usually have price buckets in mind when shopping for holiday gifts. Having a range of prices in your shop will help you reach several targets. Help them meet their budgeting goals by grouping your products into popular buckets:

  • Under $25
  • Under $50
  • Under $75
  • Under $100
  • Noteworthy & Luxury Gifts

Gifts by Recipient: Help shoppers check off everyone on their list by describing the type of person (or groups of people) your item would make a great gift for and why. The majority of gift recipients fit into one of the categories below:

  • Men: Don't forget about the men! Men's gifts are always in high demand. If you have products that could be for men, or could be made to be for men, consider marketing to this segment. Be sure to use keywords like "men," "man," and "guys."
  • Women
  • Parents
  • Grandparents
  • Teens: Many items geared toward young adults would also be great for teens. Use "teen" and "teenager" as keywords, when appropriate.
  • Children: Many shoppers have noted that there are lots of great toys and clothes on Etsy for babies and toddlers, but fewer things for older children. If have a few great ideas for older kids, go for it!
  • Babies
  • Hostesses, Coworkers & Bosses
  • Extended Family, Friends & Acquaintances
  • Workforce: If your items would make great gifts for teachers, postal workers, babysitters and others, be sure to let shoppers know!
Photo by Ashley Pahl

Dates & Strategy

Once you have your line of products well stocked and marketed in a way that resonates with shoppers, it’s time to get a game plan for targeting each of the key shopping holidays. Find a list of the major shopping and sale holiday dates below, broken down with prep plans by month.

Key Holiday Target Dates

  • October 31: Halloween
  • November 22: Thanksgiving
  • November 23: Black Friday (Sales)
  • November 26: Cyber Monday (Sales)
  • December 8-16: Hanukkah
  • December 25: Christmas
  • December 26: Boxing Day (Sales)
  • December 26 – January 1: Kwanzaa
  • December 31: New Year’s Eve
Photo by Slippin Southern

October

Campaigns:

  • Halloween
  • Thanksgiving
  • Fall/Winter Weddings
  • Winter Home (Northern Hemisphere)
  • Winter Fashion (Northern Hemisphere)
  • Summer Home (Southern Hemisphere)
  • Summer Fashion (Southern Hemisphere)

Press:

  • Halloween: Coverage of adult, children, baby and pet costumes and costume accessories. Halloween home decor and party decorations. Seasonal recipes, sweets, favors, containers & buckets. Themed clothing, accessories and jewelry. DIY ideas and activities.
  • Thanksgiving: Emphasis on entertaining, cooking, recipes, decor, hostess gifts, seasonal colors and motifs, home decor and seasonal decorations.
  • Black Friday and Cyber Monday: Coverage of shops offering promotions. Find details for how to get involved in November’s section below.
  • Holiday Decor: Coverage of seasonal motifs, colors, patterns and materials. Emphasis on winter entertaining and home accents.
  • Holiday Gifting: Emphasis on recipient (for him, her, children, baby, best friend, boss and coworkers, hostess, gourmet, music lover, fashionista, book lover, techie, person who has it all) type (personalized, by price category, jewelry, gadgets and accessories, fashion, home, stocking stuffers, last minute, etc), gift wrap, calendars and cards.
  • New Year’s: Coverage of parties, decorations, fashion, resolutions, goal setting, calendars, athletics, detoxing, home updates, makeovers and fresh starts.
  • Valentine’s: Coverage of gift ideas for him, her and kids. Emphasis on jewelry. Stories for parties, decorations, recipes, sweets, drinks, cards, children’s outfits, and DIY ideas.

November

Campaigns:

  • Thanksgiving
  • Black Friday and Cyber Monday
  • Holiday Gifts and Decor
  • Winter/Spring Weddings
  • Winter Home (Northern Hemisphere)
  • Winter Fashion (Northern Hemisphere)
  • Summer Home (Southern Hemisphere)
  • Summer Fashion (Southern Hemisphere)

Press:

  • Black Friday and Cyber Monday: Coverage of shops offering promotions.
  • Holiday Decor: Coverage of seasonal motifs, colors, patterns and materials. Emphasis on winter entertaining and home accents.
  • Holiday Gifting: Emphasis on recipient (for him, her, children, baby, best friend, boss and coworkers, hostess, gourmet, music lover, fashionista, book lover, techie, person who has it all), type (personalized, by price category, jewelry, gadgets and accessories, fashion, home, stocking stuffers, last minute, etc.), gift wrap, calendars and cards.
  • New Year's: Coverage of parties, decorations, fashion, resolutions, goal setting, calendars, athletics, detoxing, home updates, makeovers and fresh starts.
  • Valentine's: Coverage of gift ideas for him, her and kids. Emphasis on jewelry. Stories for parties, decorations, recipes, sweets, drinks, cards, children’s outfits, and DIY ideas. Spring Trends: Coverage of the start of spring for her, him, and kids with an emphasis on fashion and home.

December

Campaigns:

  • Holiday Gifts
  • Boxing Day Sales
  • New Year's
  • Winter/Spring Weddings
  • Winter Home (Northern Hemisphere)
  • Winter Fashion (Northern Hemisphere)
  • Summer Home (Southern Hemisphere)
  • Summer Fashion (Southern Hemisphere)

Press:

  • Holiday Gifting: Emphasis on recipient (for him, her, children, baby, best friend, boss and coworkers, hostess, gourmet, music lover, fashionista, book lover, techie, person who has it all), type (personalized, by price category, jewelry, gadgets and accessories, fashion, home, stocking stuffers, last minute, etc.), gift wrap, calendars and cards.
  • Boxing Day Sales: Coverage of shops offering promotions.
  • New Year's: Coverage of parties, decorations, fashion, resolutions, goal setting, calendars, athletics, detoxing, home updates, makeovers and fresh starts.
  • Winter Stories: Emphasis on fashion, accessories and home decor.
  • Valentine's: Coverage of gift ideas for him, her and kids. Emphasis on jewelry. Stories for parties, decorations, recipes, sweets, drinks, cards, children’s outfits, and DIY ideas.
  • Spring Trends: Coverage of the start of spring for her, him, and kids with an emphasis on fashion and home.

Now that you’re thinking in terms of marketing your shop towards holiday shoppers and keeping key deadlines in mind, you’re well on your way to a successful holiday season. We’d love to hear what strategies you already have in place for the holiday season and your tips on what worked well for you last holiday season.

Author

Mary Andrews

Mary Andrews helps lead Etsy’s Merchandising team. She’s passionate about helping independent businesses creatively leverage their brands. When she’s not exploring the depths of Etsy for unseen treasures, you’ll find her nerding out over data, taking on a new DIY project or researching plant varieties to try growing with her husband in their urban garden.

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