As the holidays come and go, business owners search for holiday selling eCommerce tips. In most cases, your sales will increase around the holiday season. When the holidays are over most businesses suffer from a post-holiday sales slump. If you have been in businesses a few years now, you may be starting to grasp a better understanding of how the holidays impact your sales. Whether you are new to business or established, eCommerce holiday planning and readiness is important. Keep reading to learn valuable holiday selling eCommerce tips such as how to survive the post-holiday sales slump.
Tips to Prepare for the Post-holiday Slump in Sales
As a small business owner, you do everything you can to prepare for that critical shopping season that falls between Thanksgiving and Christmas. You ensure your inventory is at sufficient levels, you possibly take on new staff to meet volume expectations, you coordinate with your logistical partners, and then you brace yourself for long hours to ensure every customer is satisfied with their purchase experience. When the holiday shopping season hits, you are in it deep, and before you know it, the last order hits the delivery truck. So, what’s next? Sure you may have a week or two of dealing with returns and exchanges, but overall sales, for any business, typically takes a dramatic dip during the weeks and months after the holiday. So it’s important for any business to prepare for this post-holiday slump in sales.
Here Are Some Tips That May Help You Prepare for the Dreaded Post-holiday Slump:
- Explore marketing automation: Marketing automation helps you keep track of customers and market to their personal interests based on past spending habits. By making product suggestions based on a customer’s psychological needs and wants, the chances of making a follow-up sale can increase.
- Impulse purchase tactics: As much as people hate to admit it, many of us make impulse purchases frequently or semi-frequently. By playing on those impulses, businesses can potentially increase their sales by engaging customers they may not have thought to market to previously. By utilizing mobile technology and social media, and by using attractive design principles to attract customers’ attention, you can maybe take advantage of some of these impulse buying behaviors that many of us have. Other tactics include offering free shipping, using suggestive selling at the point of sale, and creating time-limited promotions.
- Mobile access is key: More and more consumers are making purchases using their mobile devices. As apps and websites have become more accessible to mobile users by making purchases as simple as possible, people have responded openly with their wallets. Make sure your site is no different.
- Create a separate “after the holidays sale”: After holidays clearance sales, inventory clear-out sales, buy one get one free sales, etc. are sometimes attractive to consumers if the sale is enticing enough.
- Launch a new product: Some businesses may not think that after the holidays is a good time to launch a new product since sales, in general, are much lower, however, if your product is enticing enough, you may enjoy launching your product during a time when other businesses are quiet. Competition may be much more scarce, and ad channels much quieter, making your product stand out.
These five tips may not bring the same results that you had seen during the holiday shopping season, but if properly utilized, they may help to give your business some continued business in the weeks and months following the New Year.
How to Plan For the Post-holiday Decline in Volume
Just as you will want to prepare for the post-holiday slump by using some of the tactics we previously discussed, you may also want to do some more big-picture planning for the post-holiday decline in volume. As the previous tactics were more about how to directly increase your sales during the slump, the following are ideas for planning for the decline in overall volume.
- Keep your marketing efforts strong: It is easy for businesses to make the mistake of slowing down marketing efforts during the first quarter of the new year. But there are still plenty of marketing tactics you can deploy to keep your customers engaged and attract new ones. Additionally, you may have just collected an immense amount of customer data from all of the sales you just made. This is an excellent opportunity to begin to study the sales and consumer data to create some amazing follow-up marketing material. Maybe you want to create an email blast giving tips about how to get the full experience from one of your best sold items? You could send this email out to every customer that had just bought this item coupled with some suggested items that would best accompany the original product. Or, maybe you want to see which items were the most abandoned in the cart at the time of sale? You could then create a social media advertising that offers steep discounts on that particular item hoping to attract those potential customers who may regret never finalizing the initial purchase. Not only are these some tactics you may want to consider for future marketing campaigns though the entire new shopping year, they have the added benefit of boosting sales during the post-holiday slump.
- Plan for the next season: After the holiday shopping season has ended, ideally you will have more time to plan for the next one. There are still some shopping events that fall early in the calendar year. The Super Bowl and Valentine’s day are still major events that happen early in the first quarter. This little bit of down time that you hopefully can enjoy may be a good time to plan a sale or offer that caters specifically to the next big event.
In addition to using the post-holiday decline in volume for big picture planning considering next year’s sales, promotions, and marketing efforts, you may want to take some time to address some more of the nuts and bolts of your business. Did everything operate smoothly during the holiday shopping sale? Were you adequately staffed? Were there any technical issues that arose that need to be addressed immediately? What about inventory? Did you have sufficient stock of your most popular products? Inventory management is a large part of a business’s success.
Tips to Manage Your Holiday Inventory Requirements
When your business is experiencing that quiet time that typically occurs directly after the holidays, it is a good time to assess your inventory management skills in preparation for the recent holiday season. Here are some basics you should look at when making that assessment.
Forecasted holiday sales: Did you make a proper forecast for how much inventory you expected to sell for each particular item? What information do you use to come to these estimates? How accurate were they? This is a good time to fine tune your inventory management processes to make sure you can accurately prepare for the next holiday season.
Did you order your inventory early enough: How was shipping and receiving in anticipation to the previous holiday shopping sale? Did everything arrive in time to be properly received and stocked before orders started coming in? Maybe you missed on some steeper discounts from vendors because you ordered too late? If you can afford to sit on inventory for longer periods of time, it may be a good time to discuss steeper discounts with your vendors for stocking up on certain products earlier in the year when they too are experiencing a general slow down.
Have reliable logistics in place: The last thing you may want to consider is setting up a meeting with your shipping companies during this time. Have some frank conversations about your expectations if you had any issues during the holiday season. Were deliveries late? Do you need to think about adding extra pick-up times throughout the day to make sure all your orders get out the same day they are processed? Shipping companies, just like any other company, are running past capacity during the holiday season. They do the best they can, but they still should hear about any issues you may have had. They will appreciate the feedback and the opportunity to do better rather than losing your partnership.
The time after the holiday season is not only a time to try to pick up additional sales or to plan for the next year’s marketing strategy, it is a time to address general operations and inventory management in anticipation of next year’s holiday shopping season.
How Kickfurther Can Help
Managing cash flow and keeping inventory in stock can be an ongoing battle. During the holiday season it can be especially difficult. While you need to ramp up inventory prior to the holiday season, you may encounter an unavoidable sales slump after the holidays are over. This can make it especially tough to manage cash flow. Most businesses need to use inventory financing. Small businesses and eCommerce businesses may struggle to find affordable inventory financing. At Kickfurther, eCommerce businesses can discover inventory financing that is up to 30% cheaper than other options. We connect brands to a community of eager buyers who help fund the inventory on consignment and give brands the flexibility to pay that back as they receive cash from their sales. This alleviates the cash-flow pinch that lenders can cause without customized repayment schedules, allowing your brand to scale quickly without impeding your ability to maintain inventory or financial flexibility.