If you have not noticed seasonal variation in sales, then you are certainly not catching pivot points. Ecommerce is affected by the seasons and special days. For instance, Cyber Monday records one of the highest sales on many ecommerce websites. In addition, here are some more popular days:
- back to school in the Fall: for school supplies and clothes
- Christmas: for gifts
- Halloween: for costumes and spooky novelties
And when these spikes are around the corner, are you ready?
Some items are also likely to encounter downward spikes in specific periods. And if you are a niche business, then your "Super Bowl Day" might occur on a different day. Nevertheless, there is always some kind of seasonality that you are should aware of, and prepare for.
Finding the Seasonal Pivot Points
To identify these critical changes in your market, examine your sales from previous years. A simple graph should reveal these pivot points quite easily.
If you are new to the game and lack a long enough sales history, keep a close watch on your competition.How to Identify Pivot Points By Observing Your Competition
Here are some telltale signs that your competition is readying for a pivot point:
- The competition might increase their expenditure on advertising.
- Their homepage might start emphasizing special features or deals that are related to the upcoming pivot.
Be careful to not be misled about the timing. Some merchants might want to start way ahead. They might begin an advertising blitz in July for the back-to-school season, or in October for Christmas.
Ecommerce seasonality is about more than just upticks in the overall sales graph. Any serious ecommerce platform should be able to provide you analytics that help you uncover trends in individual products or groups of related products. This will help you uncover pivot points for each specific product.
This practice alone will empower you to make fruitful management decisions. However, data from a single year may be worthless. If a Harry Potter movie is released this summer, you might encounter a spike in Harry Potter products. That spike is not likely to recur unless a Harry Potter movie is released each summer.
Seasonal Marketing Is Often Characterized By Sourcing Issues
The best marketing efforts would come to naught if you do not have the right inventory. Accelerating sales is tough enough. The last thing your ecommerce business wants to encounter is a stock-out situation. All those marketing dollars, blood and sweat will be futile if you do not have the product to sell.
If you identify these pivot points early enough, you will be better prepared to manage sales and inventory.
Adapt Your Marketing Plan to the Season
I have read that ecommerce businesses should promote sales during lulls. But my experience has taught me that there is a reason that low periods are low. Unless you know the reason and are confident that it is alterable, you might be fighting the wind. It might be that nothing you say or do will change your customer's mind.
But I do agree that you should go all out during the season. Whether you are the kind that works with PPC advertising, or social marketing, give it all you have got during the season. If you have read my article about PPC optimization, please note that you should not adopt a one-size-fits-all strategy. Be more aggressive with your PPC strategy during the season.
Seasonal Marketing Could Bring Out the David in You
It is possible that you have big name competitors, and you feel incapacitated. Do not worry! One of the oldest stories is about David and Goliath -- a little guy killing the big guy. It is possible and it does happen. Google beat Yahoo when no one knew what this ridiculously named empty website was all about. Apple creamed IBM, though Apple came from a garage and IBM was a century old corporation. It happens.
You have to judge whether it is better to mimic the competition or dream up something wild. If you are the small guy, remember that your advantage lies in the perspective and vision you personally bring to your business. People will like you at least because you are the underdog, the little guy struggling to make it, the one they can expect a personal touch from.People See through the Fake at the Seasonal Pivot Points
I have noticed ecommerce players mark down inventory that traditionally does not move at that time of the year. This can be seen as trying to pawn off the white elephant. People don't buy it they don't want it. Though people do expect and enjoy discounts, you should make sure that your pricing strategy does not come across as desperate. This will harm your reputation for wanting to meet your customers' needs and desires. You will be seen as no better than a pawn shop. That is an instant ecommerce sales killer.