Keeping a stream of new merchandise for fans is key in generating revenue year round. We’ve outlined a general annual retail strategy to help plan your year, as well looking at the important retail events to prepare for annually.
Preparation and planning are everything when it comes to maximizing profit potential. We've laid out a road map that includes key dates to prepare for each year, including a logistics schedule to make sure we're ready to rock together. In each section we'll discuss important season product targeting, as well as important logistics information.
Here's a quick rundown of how we'll break down the important dates to plan for throughout the year:
- Event: The specific promotion being planned for
- Planning Phase: Start planning with your merch team to ensure all products, assets and other deliverables are created in time to meet deadlines
- Merchbar Deadline: All assets and promotion details need to be delivered to Merchbar by this date
- Sale Date: Date the promotion goes live
January — February
The first two months of the year are generally slower for retail, with consumerism cooling off after the holidays. One way to re-engage fans is to promote sales, offering markdowns that create consumer interest that can be otherwise lacking. It's also a good time to push merchandise like hoodies, jackets, umbrellas and other products that are winter-focused.
The big opportunity during this period is Valentine’s Day, a key holiday for music merchandise sales. Implementing an effective sale campaign to draw in fans who want to share the gift of music can help boost the start of the year.
- Event: Valentine's Day (2/14)
- Planning Phase: 1/1
- Merchbar Deadline: 1/14
- Sale Date: 2/1
March — April — May
Consumer spending should normalize around this time, so it’s a perfect window to release new products as buying power returns. Now's the time to shift merchandise focus from winter to spring, getting out the last bit of cold-weather products as temperatures heat up.
A key event to keep in mind is Record Store Day. Creating and promoting unique products — whether that’s re-releasing vinyl records with new colors/exclusive content, apparel or other merchandise — is the way to go. Vinyl collectors and fans will purchase limited release products that are awesome, and we want to get those items in their hands. Mother’s Day is also a chance to run a targeted sales campaign.
- Event: Record Store Day
- Planning Phase: 3/14
- Merchbar Deadline: 4/1
- Sale Date: Mid-April, changes annually
- Event: Mother's Day (Second Sunday in May)
- Planning Phase: 4/1
- Merchbar Deadline: 4/14
- Sale Date: 5/1
- Event: Father's Day (Third Sunday in June)
- Planning Phase: 5/1
- Merchbar Deadline: 5/15
- Sale Date: 6/5
June — July
Summer is here and it’s a great time to release new merchandise focused on the warm weather. Fresh apparel representing the artists they love is exactly what fans want as they get under the sun. It’s also a great time to launch things like beach towels, koozies, tank tops, sunglasses, and other summer-themed products.
Father’s Day can be another opportunistic holiday for music merchandise sales.
August — September — October
Most eCommerce retailers see a boost in sales, traffic, and engagement during this three-month stretch, with October being one of the busiest in online shopping. Having up-to-date inventory and new merchandise ready is important, especially as the holiday season draws nearer and shopping begins trending upward.
Fall and winter are also on the way, so shifting new product focus to match the change of seasons is key during this stretch. Merchandise and inventory decisions made in these months will have a major impact on the two biggest months in retail looming. It's time to bring out new designs for hoodies, beanies, jackets, and other cold-weather apparel.
It's also a good time to prepare any holiday-specific themed merchandise for production. Planning ahead is everything, especially when making limited release items.
- Event: Black Friday
- Planning Phase: 10/15
- Merchbar Deadline: 11/1
- Sale Date: Friday following Thanksgiving
- Event: Cyber Monday
- Planning Phase: 10/15
- Merchbar Deadline: 11/1
- Sale Date: Monday following Thanksgiving
Make sure your inventory is ready because the busiest time of the year has arrived. Research shows that 33 percent of shoppers begin planning their holiday shopping in November, while 36 percent of shoppers begin making those purchases.
The holidays are here, with Black Friday and Cyber Monday in November. Lining up logistics and sales through the year should have you prepared for the fourth quarter shopping spree. Promoting and feature sales around the biggest eCommerce period of the year are crucial, and Merchbar is here to make sure everything is ready to run smoothly.
Have your sales plan ready at the start of the month so we can work together and make sure everything is ready to rock. It’s go time.
- Event: Green Monday
- Planning Phase: 11/1
- Merchbar Deadline: 11/15
- Sale Date: Second Monday in December
- Event: Free Shipping day
- Planning Phase: 11/15
- Merchbar Deadline: 12/1
- Sale Date: Mid-December
No rest until the finish line is crossed. Green Monday is a HUGE eCommerce holiday, functioning like a Cyber Monday in December. Holiday shopping is getting bigger and bigger online. It's also the heart of winter which means having an assortment of sweaters, hoodies, gloves, and other cold-weather merchandise ready to roll out is a must.
Free Shipping Day is another high-impact opportunity to sell merchandise, especially if partnered with other promotions to draw fans in. Free shipping is a huge factor in online shopping, bringing in not only the usual purchasing fans but also those less-inclined to buy online because of the additional cost.
It's important to consistently release new products. Launching fresh merchandise keeps loyal fans coming back for products they don't own, creates new purchase opportunities by providing new options for potential buyers, and is important for establishing the presence of artists and labels.
This is why we stress the importance of merchandising for seasonality, as well as building around key retail dates. Being prepared and executing product launches year-round is key. The above annual schedule is a great starting point for plotting out the year.