If you sell seasonal products like skis or garden furniture, the off-season period can be a serious threat to your sales and cash flow. Thankfully, you are not in a no-win situation. There are at least three strategies that can help your online store grow, even in times of drought.
Your activity during the off-season time depends on many factors. Before making a decision, you should think about:
- Your products/your offer
- Your customers
- The current state of your store
- Your financial performance
Such an analysis will give you a better, more comprehensive perspective on your eCommerce business. With that in mind, you can make an informed decision and apply a strategy that will bring you real financial results instead of just burning out your budget. For instance, if your customers are also on vacation, investing more money in advertisements most likely won’t be a particularly efficient strategy.
Try to find an answer to the question, why is this time out of season in your store? Is that because customers don’t need your products at the moment (skis, garden equipment)? Or maybe they are also on vacation and are simply not at home (groceries, catering services)? Or, the third option, the entire industry slows down (building materials)?
With that knowledge, you can decide which strategy will be the most efficient in your situation. Applying a strategy that’s inadequate to the causes of the problem won’t do any good and can severely damage your budget. So, what options do you have?
Strategy 1: Take care of your store and improve relations with customers
The off-season time (not necessarily June-August) can be a perfect occasion to take care of your store. Surely, there are some actions and adjustments you wanted to implement, but you never had enough time for them. Now is your chance. For instance, you could think of:
- Analyzing the traffic in your store and thinking of ways to improve it
- Improving CX (Customer Experience) in your store
- Implementing marketing automation tools
- Verifying your subscribers’ database
- Writing more (or more practical) blog posts
- Making new product descriptions/pictures
All of these actions take a lot of time, and usually, there are more important things to do. The off-season allows you to catch up and build better relations with customers. For instance, maybe you could:
- Improve your newsletters
- Write more practical/interesting blog posts
- Implement a new way of communication with your company (for instance, a chatbot)
- Conduct a customer satisfaction survey
Think of this off-season period as a chance to improve your store and your offer before the high season comes. Don’t throw away that period only because you make less money. When the high season comes, you should be locked and loaded to maximize your sales!
Strategy 2: Expand your offer and/or start clearance sales
If you sell products that people don’t use during the off-season, let’s say snowboards or skis, you can think of expanding your offer. Many stores that sell skis also sell surfboards, rollerblades, skateboards, bikes, or other sporting equipment.
If you sell skis in autumn and winter and bikes in spring and summer, there’s no off-season for you! Naturally, not every store can utilize this strategy, and it takes a lot of preparation and adjustments, but you should think about it and be open-minded.
Don’t limit yourself with the boundaries of your current niche. Maybe you will come up with a refreshing, creative idea! Not only will it help you cope during the worse times, but it may also attract many new customers. Just think of Samsung–everybody knows they sell mobile devices and fridges but did you know that they sell… cars as well?
If for any reason expanding an offer is not for you, think about clearance sales and special off-season offers. During the off-season, many people are on the hunt for great deals. All you have to do is to give them to your customers! They’ll love them, and you’ll be able to renew your inventory. It’s a clear win-win situation. When your old inventory is sold out, you can think of stock replenishment. Again, to be ready for the high season when it comes.
Strategy 3: Go global!
Granted, this is a huge challenge but also a huge opportunity for you! Keep in mind that relying on just one market is risky, especially in modern crazy times, with COVID-19 raging.
In fact, all you have to do is to adjust your website and customer service (again, the off-season is a dream period for that!). The very first step is to offer your store in other language versions. English is a must-have. Then, you should offer customer service in this language. Naturally, it takes a lot of effort and time, but it’s definitely worth it!
Opening your business to the foreign markets will help you access a far broader audience and, as a result, grow your sales.
At this point, you should think about logistics. It’s true, it’s a bit more complicated to send products to Germany than to Cracow, but no worries! With our order fulfillment service, it’s a pleasant and straightforward process. Moreover, thanks to the flexible settlement form, you can turn fixed costs into variable costs–you only pay for used space or services. This means that when the off-season comes, you can lower your expenditures and save money.
Omnipack allows you to outsource all of the logistics processes. You don’t even have to run your own warehouse–we do everything for you! Sounds interesting? We encourage you to read about our three-step cross-border strategy.
What about marketing?
In most instances, the off-season time is not necessarily perfect for increasing your marketing expenditures. As we mentioned earlier, if you do so, you’re on a straight course to burning out your budget. However, this doesn’t mean that you should withhold your promotional activities!
It’s a good time to test new ways of promoting your store. If you’ve been thinking about utilizing Facebook Ads or Google PLA (Product Listing Ads), you should give them a try during the off-season! You don’t risk much, and you’ll be able to verify the efficiency of these tools.
The off-season is also a good time to work on your long-term marketing activities. Take advantage of the fact that it’s slightly easier to promote your store during that period.
Concentrate primarily on content marketing and SEO. Both these tools are extremely efficient, but none of them can deliver results overnight. If you start in June, you’ll be able to see the first results around September. Yes, exactly when people go home and start buying more products online. Your options are as follows:
- Start working on your blog and website
- Update your social media profiles
- Grow your emailing database
- Produce more high-quality content that will attract new customers and Google bots
Content marketing and SEO require your attention and time. That’s why it’s usually your best bet to start these activities when the online traffic decreases, and you have fewer orders. Not only will you have more time to take care of them, but it will also be easier to break through the competition.
We have to admit that these three strategies can be difficult to implement. Also, each one of them requires your time, and, in most instances, money. But all of them are 100% effective and will surely help you grow sales and develop your eCommerce business. You should analyze your situation, compare all the pros and cons, and make a decision. At the end of the day, this game is being played for very high stakes–your business success!
As you can see, even the off-season period can be a fascinating and busy time for your company. Don’t throw in the towel, but instead start thinking of how to outrun your competitors! And with Omnipack on your side, you’ll have even more time that you can use to grow your sales. Find out how today!