Seasonality can have a big impact on retailers, both online and in-store. Understanding how different seasons can affect your business will help you prepare for any peaks and take advantage of opportunities to boost sales.
For most retailers, year-end events such as Christmas, Black Friday and Cyber Monday see many product categories experience an uplift in sales. But there are lots of other seasonal changes where the impact on demand is more subtle.
Being able to predict these trends allows you to accurately forecast stock levels and tweak marketing for maximum effect. So how can retailers prepare for and reap the benefits of seasonal trends?
1. Plan your budget around seasonal sales forecasts
Amanda Walls is Founder and CEO of award-winning digital marketing agency Cedarwood Digital. She has years of experience working with retailers, including helping clients adapt to seasonal shifts in consumer spending habits.
Amanda advises retailers to plan their budgets early in the year, while taking into account the past year’s seasonal growth by percentage. This ensures you aren’t caught out at the end of the year.
“We see so many retailers who plan their budgets from January to December.” She explains, “They then get to the end of the year only to find that they don’t have that little extra for Black Friday and the holiday season.”
Amanda says retailers can budget effectively by using data from previous years to gain an understanding of how this new budget might fall. “You can also factor in any ROAS/POAS across your advertising channels to evaluate how much room for growth there might be. This is a good time to have a chat with your marketing team and get them on board early so they too are managing the budget effectively in line with your goals and predictions.”
2. Make data-driven decisions around seasonal best-sellers
With the cost of importing goods on the rise, it pays to invest in stock that you know from experience will perform well during a new season.
“Use your marketing data to feed into your buying patterns for the season.” Amanda proposes, “Speak with your marketing team to understand how and why particular products sold well across channels last year, and ask for their input into products they believe might also have the potential to perform.
Utilising data in this way can help to inform purchasing decisions ahead of key trading periods, and you might even identify some key product ranges that weren’t initially on your radar.”
3. Stock up early for the season
Selling out of a hot-ticket item is always a great feeling. However, if you’re not able to re-stock in time, you’re likely missing out on a significant amount of revenue.
For Amanda, it’s never too early to check your stock. “Liaise with your marketing team about how much you have.” She advises, “They should then be able to move quickly as stock turnover increases at busier times of the year. There’s nothing more frustrating than marketing something which is out of stock, or low in stock.
Early in the process, make sure your marketing and buying teams are communicating with each other to understand which products to push and which to pull back on. This approach will allow for a better and more fruitful spend on marketing resource and planning.”
4. Make your sales last for longer
“A few years ago, Black Friday was very much a four-day activity – from the Friday through to the Monday – and we saw a significant period of sales over that given weekend.” Now, Amanda explains, it’s a completely different story.
“While Black Friday is still an important day, we find many businesses turning it into “Black Friday Week” or even “Black Friday Month”.” She states, “As a result of this change, consumers are spending very differently now compared to what they were a couple of years ago, despite it being over a similar time period. As retailers, we need to be adaptable and on-trend with our consumers to ensure we are well-prepared for the upcoming seasons.”
Don’t forget: you can also create your own peak sales opportunities by promoting new and exciting products outside of the typical retail calendar – although the success of the product/service launch is often season dependent.
5. Seize the seasonal mood
Although we don’t always notice, the changing of seasons can have a huge impact on our outlook and behaviour. Effective sellers can use these subtle mood changes to sell more products.
“Understand the mindset of your shoppers in each season.” Amanda advises, “Some seasons they will be purchasing, some browsing and some they might be somewhere in between. When organising your marketing funnel, it’s important to take this into consideration.”
Spring is typically a time of growth, renewal and good intentions. Summer, a time of warmth, optimism and good humour. Retailers that can package and market these emotions with their products will find their customers willing to buy.
January can be a slow month for retailers, with customers still suffering from Christmas debt hangovers. The good news is that by Spring, the burden of Christmas spending has eased and people are looking forward to longer days and warmer temperatures. Valentine’s Day also is an ideal time to test the water by getting creative with your marketing and observing how it affects sales.
“Build a funnel around relevant seasons and the users’ purchase intent,” Says Amanda, “so you can nurture your leads and sales effectively.”
6. Offer multiple payment options
Right now, 30% of UK buyers are using flexible finance options to spread the cost of payments. And in the current economic climate, that number can only be set to rise.
When done correctly and ethically, POS finance helps your customers access larger seasonable purchases (such as new sofas for the colder months, or garden furniture in summer). It also gives you an edge over your competitors who may not offer this, and attracts new customers who wouldn’t be able or willing to buy these items upfront.
At DivideBuy, we use our own credit engine which means we can adjust our POS finance options to fit with your seasonal promotions.
To find out more about why hundreds of retailers are choosing DivideBuy to offer credit to their customers, book a fifteen-minute demo today.