Smart Idea: Create Holiday Product Collections

Still life from product planning, January 2011

As a fairly new online seller, the idea of a product line or a seasonal collection has always seemed both daunting and thrilling. For one, many of the best online sellers have collections only, not free-floating items, so there’s a certain ring of success about having a seasonal line. On the other hand, trying to come up with a large collection of items specific only to a certain time of year is terrifying: where do you even start?

Turns out that I’ve been making little collections for a long time, and you probably have been, too. Since you’ve already got mini collections going, it’s not going to be that hard to spin some holiday-themed groupings together. In this post, I’ll be talking about why you need a holiday collection (and it can be for any holiday), things to consider when designing a collection, and a few ways to get your creativity going while saving yourself some work. Let’s jump in!

Button by kohaku16 on Etsy

First of all, why is having a season-themed bunch of items important?

  1. Having multiple products that fall under one theme will add cohesiveness to your online shop, whether you sell on Etsy, Artfire, or your own webpage.
  2. Having multiple products in a “set” will encourage more views, Etsy favorites, and sales than loose items alone. Think about it. If you see an item like “Blue and White Striped Teacups (Wallace & Gromit Collection), don’t you have the immediate urge to see what other Wallace and Gromit inspired products are  in that collection?
  3. By offering a discount on the complete set, you can encourage more valuable sales. For example, if you have items valued at $100 and you offer a discount of $20, people perceive value in the discount. They’re more likely to splurge if they think (or know) they’re saving money, and you can make more money than if you sold a $10 key chain instead.
  4. Having a collection of items allows for more creative promotional schemes. Like catalogs. Who doesn’t love a full-color, glossy catalog? I saved my Williams-Sonoma catalog from last Christmas because it was just so pretty. And also because I have a thing for paper products. (Yeah, it’s a little weird.)
  5. People shop more around (and for) the holidays.

Vegetarian Meal Planning Kit by wggty on Etsy

So are you convinced? I firmly believe that a collection can bring extra sales and exposure to any online shop. If you know that you’re going to do a collection, you’re ready to start your creative process, however it works for you. There are a few things to consider when designing and scheduling your next holiday project, however. Important-type things.

  1. People often buy in advance. Last year, all the Halloween items I sold were sold between mid-August and late September. If people are buying for themselves (often the case with miniature food and probably some other industries too), they want a chance to enjoy it before the holiday is over.
  2. Magazines, blogs, and wholesalers and getting their holiday priorities set straight months before the big day itself. If you want in, you’ll want to have your products ready a few months in advance.
  3. You don’t need to have a department-worthy spread of brand-new products. Try creating four or five new designs for your theme, redo one of your best-sellers, and beef up the collection with a few pieces from your existing (or discontinued) inventory.
  4. Your theme doesn’t need to be uber specific, but it should play to your target market. So for example, if you’re selling to a crowd of 20-something skateboarders, your new clothing line probably shouldn’t be called “Classic Winterwear from Grandma’s Day”.

Custom Look book, line sheet, catalog, or multi-page document by jackandmolly on Etsy

I always like to wrap informative articles like this up with a little “now you do this” bit, so here we go. Here’s a quick list of things you should do to get your creative juices flowing on collection design. Some of them will actually save you time and work, and that’s the best of all.

  1. Go over your sales from last year. Any best sellers? Could you put a new twist on an old classic?
  2. Think about your brand. What sorts of things would fit in? For instance, I’m tinkering with the idea of making Halloween-themed color palettes for my Exploded Diagram Ice Cream Cone Earrings. Consider different colors, materials, and textures.
  3. Read blogs, magazines, and catalogs from past years that are specific to your industry. Can you reinvent a design?
  4. Skim through your sketchbooks. There’s oftentimes something promising from previous brainstorms, and if you’ve been designing for more than a year, you may find a design you forgot about but love.

Fancy Felt Color Catalog by giantdwarf on Etsy

Your turn. Have you ever done a holiday product line? Tell me about the ups, the downs, the in-betweens! If you’ve never done one, are you going to? Why, or why not?


3 thoughts on “Smart Idea: Create Holiday Product Collections

    • I actually discovered jackandmolly while writing this post, and I was totally blown away. I am definitely a convert!

      You have a beautiful website! Can I ask, is it by Meredith?

  1. Pingback: Smart Idea: Get a Move On the Holidays! | the frippery factory

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