As shop owners will tell you, retail is a seasonal business with peaks and troughs in activity. Here's how to turn the quiet times into productive pockets of business-boosting goodness.
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Just like high street retail, ecommerce peaks follow the seasons. Take advantage of the quiet times to recoup, take stock and work on the areas of your business that you haven’t had a chance to think about during the peak sales periods. Use the opportunity to be better prepared for the next sales rush.
Identify your seasonal traffic
The first thing on your to do list, when you get that moment of calm, is to analyse your statistics. Who are your regular visitors? Where do they come from? What are your most purchased products? By finding the answers to those questions, you'll be able to calculate and adjust your stock and prepare for peak sales periods.
Launch your social media strategy and optimise your content strategy
Social networks are a great way to keep in touch with your community. They give you the opportunity to get feedback from a variety of consumers. When you have time, decide which social networks would best suit your business, expand your community and include give you value-added content.
"By organising your business around specific dates, you can maximize your sales"
It is essential to define the editorial tone for your blog. Having a blog is excellent for your SEO and it gives your community another good reason to check regularly for new information about your products, sector, business, etc.
Rethink your emailing strategy
Quiet periods are the perfect time to optimise your email marketing campaigns including streamlining mailing lists to ensure data is up to date and put out e-shots. You can create new templates; preparing newsletters in advance to give yourself enough time to try some AB testing in order to see what works best for your target audience.
Develop a product sub-niche and think internationally
During peak sales periods, you could also look into developing a new product range or adding to the existing products you already have. Prepare a benchmark to get a global view of the market and competition and to give yourself a better understanding of where you can market yourself.
What about developing an international sales strategy? Which countries could you export your products to? What’s the competition like for your products on an international level? Use the quiet periods to look into legal requirements, customs fees and all the specifics of the countries you are looking into.
Many export markets are crying out for British goods - find out which are a good fit your business
Update your site and take it to new heights
In quieter periods the chances are you have a more manageable work load and adequate time to process orders. This is the perfect opportunity to redesign your ecommerce website, to provide a better user experience and optimise your sales plan. Think about optimising your e-store and facilitating the site’s navigation and browsing.
Stanford Study reveals that 75% of users admit making judgements about a company’s credibility based on their website’s design. Optimising your site also means working on your products pages, ensuring you have high quality photos (taken from a variety of angles), keyword rich descriptions and ensuring the general look of the website gives a good overall initial impression to prospective consumers.
4 key events that will help to boost your sales
By organising your business around specific dates, you can maximize your sales. Ecommerce seasonality depends on sales events, but it can also be affected by changes in consumer habits, their holidays and even the weather! These elements are more difficult to predict, but should still be taken into consideration when showcasing your products.
Black Friday and Cyber Monday
Black Friday happens just after Thanksgiving Day and marks the unofficial start of the Christmas shopping period. Interestingly this American sales event is fast gaining pace in the UK. Cyber Monday is the online sales event after Thanksgiving Day and before Christmas; similarly it is becoming more of a key event in the UK online retail.
These are good dates to test whether your site is ready to deal with the heavy traffic that is about to hit when online Christmas shopping starts.
February 14th can be a real source of income for your business. Get cupid on your side and put a loving slant on all your products. According to the British Retail Consortium, 1 in 3 people in the UK, buy their gifts online for Valentine’s Day. Share your Valentine’s offering with your online community and get their attention.
Valentine’s Day is also a great time to run a competition which could be done through social media or an editorial placement on a relevant newspaper or consumer website.
Mother's and Father's Day
Mother's Day is one of the dates that generates the most sales apart from of Christmas. In the UK it 2015 it fell on the 15th March and it will fall on the 6th of March in 2016. Watch out because we are a little bit quirky in the UK with our Mother's Day dates, as for the rest of the world Mother’s Day is always celebrated in May.
Father’s Day is around the 21st of June and is gaining momentum as an important sales date. Consider offering free gift wrap and popping a little love note into your orders to give customers added extras to incentivise. It is always fun and adds a personal touch that your customers will appreciate.
Christmas is the sales peak period of the year! Think delivery, guarantee that your customers receive their orders before Christmas and make sure you have all your delivery schedules well organised. You can also choose to extend hours for online customer service to meet all your customer’s expectations and needs.
Below are some examples of other types of events you can use to promote your business:
Sporting events such as the Rugby World Cup, Olympics etc.
International Women's Day
World Fair Trade Day
Small Business Saturday
Trade shows and exhibitions relevant to your sector
We’re sure you weren’t twiddling your thumbs in the quiet periods, but these tips should get you and your e-store fighting fit for when the sales traffic starts flowing at a speedy pace again. Don’t forget to use dates that will have a direct impact on your customers – birthday’s, their company joining date, wedding anniversary etc. Show your customers that you value them.
Finally on to our last tip: Remember to take some time to relax too. As any major athlete will tell you, if you’re in it for the long run, you need to take some down time to maintain a healthy pace!