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How to Navigate Seasonal eCommerce Fluctuations

How to Navigate Seasonal eCommerce Fluctuations

Any business will know that the seasons can affect the amount of trade that they get, no matter what sector they work in. Things like public holidays, national events and even the weather can all have an impact on sales patterns. What sometimes comes as a surprise is that ecommerce businesses can also be subject to these same fluctuations. 

In this article, Car Mats UK take a look at the reasons behind ecommerce seasonality and the ways in which you can navigate it.

What are seasonal ecommerce fluctuations?

In any retail or service business, it is natural to expect changes in buying patterns according to the season. Things like Christmas and the summer sun will always affect what people buy and when they buy it so it stands to reason that many of these same patterns will be replicated online.

Typically, online sales see a massive increase in the run-up to Christmas, with things like Black Friday and Cyber Monday helping to drive that even further. Just like most other retailers, ecommerce businesses will usually see a fall in those sales volumes in January as everyone starts to tighten the purse strings again.

The products and services that you offer will also be governed by the seasons, as those offering garden furniture, sunscreen or swimwear and more likely to see an uptake in sales as the weather improves and the summer months approach, whilst things will be a lot quieter during the winter.

These seasonal changes are only natural, and by understanding these patterns, it can be easier for businesses to predict where the peaks in sales are likely to be and can plan accordingly, both to cope with the increases and to navigate the times that are less busy.

Busiest months

Whilst some products might be centred towards the summer, most businesses still see the biggest increases in their sales through November, December and January. This is the time when everyone is looking to pick up a bargain or find the perfect gift, so it doesn’t matter quite as much if it is not in season. Consumers are prepared to increase their spending habits and use occasions such as Black Friday and the January sales to pick up items that seem tempting.

Knowing this is likely to be a peak, it is important for businesses to prepare their stock levels, marketing campaigns and their online services in order to cope with the demand. If sales are then likely to drop throughout February and March, the Christmas boost should help to deal with lower sales periods.

You should also consider other holidays and celebrations that might help your sales patterns. Things like Valentine’s Day, Easter and Halloween are now proving to be massive retail opportunities, so it is worth factoring these into your plans to find ways in which you can maximise them.

Weather

The weather has a big effect on what sells, and so you should try and plan what you offer around the temperatures outside. Those who sell clothing will want to promote coats and waterproof gear as soon as the weather starts to become cooler, whilst things like shorts, sun hats and sandals will start selling better in the spring when the sun starts to come out again. Making sure that you have the right stock for the season can be very important in maximising your sales.

Recurring events

Aside from celebrations, there will be other events that can always be guaranteed to occur throughout the year that you can plan your sales around. Knowing when children go back to school, when sporting events occur or what festivals might be happening can help you to know what is likely to sell around that time and can help you create your own seasonal events or promotions to boost your sales. It is important to remember that this does not always need to be focused on national events, as there can be regional and local factors that you can also tap into if they are relevant to what you offer.

Economic factors

The state of the economy will always affect how people spend their money, and so this is something that you need to take into consideration. When times are tough due to recession or other economic downturns, then it is reasonable to expect that many consumers will be reducing their spending. This could be the time to cut down your inventory to manage your storage and warehousing facilities better, or to change what you offer in order to meet the changing needs of your consumers.

Likewise, when the economy starts to boom, many of your customers will have money in their pockets that they are willing to spend. This means that you may want to consider stocking higher-end or luxury items that would normally have been overlooked as being too much of an extravagance.

Study data

It is impossible to know exactly what the future holds, but the change of seasons is one thing that is predictable, and so it can make it easier to know what the spending habits of consumers is likely to be. It can therefore be important to look back on your sales history and do some close analysis to understand the seasonality better, rather than just looking at annual or quarterly totals. Look at what events occurred around the sales peaks and troughs, how the weather changed and the ways in which you responded in order to help you create a seasonal strategy going forwards.

There are many variables when it comes to ecommerce, but the changing seasons are one thing that can generally be relied upon. Instead of accepting that you might have quieter times of the year, it can be beneficial to look at ways in which you can adapt your business to the different seasons. By planning in advance, you can have a more comprehensive sales strategy based around something that is constant, meaning that you are less reactionary and more effective in driving sales throughout the year.

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