How online retailers can beat the summer slump
June 20, 2022
Why are summer sales slow in ecommerce?
Summer can be slow in ecommerce. You probably know why: people are out and about more, companies often hold onto their new releases for high-peak sales periods, and it’s the time of year when many go on holiday.
This year summer could be even more challenging. In Europe, growth is slowing, inflation is rising, and ecommerce sales are falling. Consumers don’t have as much spending power and retail is feeling the crunch – with people around the continent buying less due to the uncertain political situation and the rising cost of living.
To help, we’ve put together a list of things you can do to help your business stay healthy during the summer months and increase sales even when spending is down. This article will show you how, explaining:
- Summer ecommerce trends
- Tips to help drive sales in the quieter months
- Advice from ecommerce experts on how to beat the slump
Summer ecommerce trends
- Globally, online traffic to ecommerce sites tends to experience a significant dip between July and September each year before increasing again in the run-up to Black Friday.
- One study even found the worst days for online sales are sunny Saturdays in summer.
- For example when temperatures exceed 18 degrees, UK supermarkets see a 22% increase in soft drink sales, a 20% rise in juices, and a 90% lift in garden furniture.
But not everyone is in the fizzy drinks or patio furniture game, and summer can be lean for many online retailers. But it doesn’t have to be lost.
“Being a small ecommerce business, it can be difficult to maintain sales throughout the slower months, but we have found some ways,” explains Aaliyah Brookes, customer experience manager at biodegradable wipe manufacturer Twipes.
“One way we get through this summer is by tapping into the summer festivals. People love to go out to enjoy the sun, from families to single friends. Everyone can find something to enjoy and are ready to buy that new outfit or the must-have item for the summer.”
5 tips for beating ecommerce’s summer slump
If you don’t have products that are a natural fit for the summertime, there are still things you can do to boost sales during the slower months. Here we’ll explain five ways you can beat the summer slump.
#1 Make your website mobile-friendly
Everyone dislikes slow websites. Shopping cart abandonment is the bane of ecommerce stores everywhere. In fact, studies show that between 50-70% of people (or higher) abandon their cart in certain industries.
- Slow sites convert a lot less than quick ones. Use fewer pop-ups, enable file compression, and reduce image sizes to shave some milliseconds off your website’s load time
- Try experimenting with tweaks to your mobile website and see if it changes how customers respond.
- Use Google Optimise to run tests to see what people find more appealing.
- See our guide on using mobile commerce to grow your business.
With some trial and error, these tests can help you increase conversions, time on site, and other metrics that can boost your sales. And any improvement you can make to reduce shopping cart abandonment will bolster your bottom line.
“Your homepage must have a strong hook to entice customers and encourage them to shop,” says Brandon Wilkes, marketing manager for expert e-tailer The Big Phone Store. “Increase the impact of your value proposition by succinctly stating the benefits of your products. Using this, you can state your unique selling point (USP) and reflect your brand’s personality.”
#2 Start chatting with your customers
Who doesn’t love a good chat? Messaging apps, chatbots, live representatives, and voice assistants can help you sell. The cool thing about using these is that they allow you to have conversations with your customers instead of talking at them.
This is called conversational commerce. Being responsive and helping to address any queries quickly can help give shoppers the confidence to buy, increasing conversions. And even if these conversations don’t lead to a sale, you’ve probably learned something about your customers along the way. After all, building personalised relationships with your customers is never a bad thing.
#3 Stay on top of your stock
Here’s another helpful thing to do ahead of summer: take stock of your stock. By the time June rolls around, you may have some spring or winter inventory that didn’t sell as well as you’d hoped. That’s less than ideal because:
- Having too much stock creates costs around storage, breakage, and even taxes.
- It takes up valuable space for in-season products and potentially higher-value goods.
- Your inventory forecasting (how you plan your stock) may need to be reviewed.
By sorting your stock before summer, you’re not dealing with it in the busier parts of the year. Run flash sales to shift any excess products. You may not be getting full price, but revenue is revenue, and you’re making room for better stock in the process.
#4 Review your shipping setup
You might also want to check your shipping and service fees and make sure customers aren’t being surprised. A summer shakeup might get otherwise reluctant shoppers over the line.
- Shipping costs were the leading cause of shopping cart abandonment, behind fees and taxes, according to a 2022 study of more than 4,000 shoppers.
- Offering free shipping is a solution. You can limit your costs around free shipping by offering product bundles or embedding shipping costs into the total product price.
- If you can’t offer free shipping, consider offering discounts or other incentives that shoppers perceive as offsetting shipping rates.
#5 Start selling across borders
Going international is another way to beat the summer slump. It’s not summer everywhere in the world at the same time, and cross-border commerce can be a great way to shift products that are out-of-season in your home market to shoppers where they are in season. A Visa GME study found that 87% of ecommerce executives see cross-border sales as one of their biggest future growth drivers.
If you are thinking of going international (or even looking to refine what you do), then check out our cross-border payments guide to excel in new markets.
Outsmart the summer sales slump
As you’ve probably guessed by now, summer doesn’t have to be a bummer. By focusing on the bigger picture, you can use it to make your store bigger and better for the busier seasons ahead.
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