With springtime now officially here in the Northern Hemisphere, many sellers are face-to-face with the long, slow descent into the summer "slow season."
Not all sellers experience a mid-year slump, but if this phrase accurately describes your business, here are five ways to battle the trend, invest in your business, and reach the end of summer feeling as though it's been an e-commerce success, rather than a slog.
Underlist and increase your use of auction format listings. During peak shopping periods, auction format listings tend to undersell the value of an item, but during slower periods, keeping supply just a little bit constrained and using auction format listings to create urgency can increase your average sale price considerably. If your inventory isn't selling, pull down listings that say you've got fifty of an item on hand with none of them having sold—especially if they get lots of traffic or have lots of watchers. Instead, post auction listings in single or small quantities with break-even starting prices, so that shoppers wonder whether they only have a few days to decide to buy—or miss out entirely.
Accept thinner margins, add value, and promote. The fourth quarter holiday season is one of two periods of the year to use your best promotions. The other is during the slow mid-year season when shopper attention spans are short and shoppers don't act as decisively due to a lack of calendar deadlines and events. Put your products on sale, offer free shipping, do some buy-one-get-one bundling, or use other time-honored salesmanship tactics to drive conversions and help you to move excess inventory in preparation for the second half of the year.
Expand your product line. This can seem counterintuitive, but it works well for many sellers. Starting in late summer, the second half of the e-commerce year quickly turns into a blur in which innumerable sellers compete for shoppers' limited (and often thinly spread) attention. By introducing new products and variations during the slow season, you give yourself enough time to build sustained awareness of and desire for your new inventory. You're also able to work out the kinks and gauge demand while pressure and risk are lower—so that you'll be operating like a well-oiled machine by the time back-to-school season, and later the fourth quarter, roll around.
Theme your pages and listings. Everyone understands that December conversion rates are higher when your customer-facing pages and listings are holiday-themed. Somehow, it's harder for many sellers to believe that the same thing is true for other seasons as well. Building decisive shopper interest is a matter of getting shoppers to visualize your products at work in their life right now, as it is while they shop. No need to go overboard—just update hero graphics, logos, and one or two other page elements to connect your products to seasonal themes—surf and sand, hiking and camping, home improvement projects, nights on yachts—whatever spring and summer bring in your niche. Update your copy (website text) to drop references to the current season as well, even if just in passing.
Invest in lead generation and research. If you're not being kept as busy as you'd like with sales volume, allocate some of your extra available time to lead generation, market research, and list maintenance. Take steps to build your customer profiles and mailing list now, then use them to drive your late-year inventory decisions, marketing strategies, and outbound marketing efforts.
Yes, for some sellers the spring and especially summer months can be slow going, in sales terms. That doesn't mean that there's nothing that you can do if you see your sales begin to slow.
As spring matures and turns into summer, try these five strategies out and you'll go a long way toward maximizing both your sales figures and your readiness for the busy months later in the year.
Research a full year of online sales in detail for any product or keyword—average prices, sell-through rates, top listings, and more. Try Terapeak Professional today!