Online retailers have numerous chances to up-sell based on seasons throughout the rest of 2012 with a view to increasing annual revenues.
Ensuring that there is a cycle of targeted planning and activity taking place throughout the year will help you take advantage of these seasonal peaks. There are a number of key steps to implement to maximise the opportunities out there.
Keep everything up-to-date: Remove and refresh all sale items and promotional content from websites once January sales are over.
Review, examine and investigate what worked well last year: Review last year’s figures, examine what worked well and investigate causes for peak in sales activity. This will help understand what seasonal peaks in the year ahead to take advantage of based on last year’s success.
Keep stocked up for those critical times: Analyse items on the inventory that sold better than others for specific events or times of the year and ensure there is enough stock in place in the upcoming year to meet this demand again.
Do a SWOT
Plan around areas where sales are likely to increase or even slow down. For example, if a retailer sells sporting goods, it is likely that they would see a dip in sales in the winter months.
Plan initially for trends and inventory until the beginning of July: Once a SWOT has been completed, this puts retailers in a good position to plan initially for the trends to the beginning of July.
These can include upcoming events in this timeframe, outlining when a retailer would need availability of inventory ahead of it as well knowing what promotional and marketing materials are needed.
Break this down in to quarterly plans: Having quarterly plans reduces the possibility of retailers overestimating on the amount of stock needed for a quarter, as well as ensuring popular items are available at the right time.
Plan for the last quarter of the year in August with a view to rolling this out on 1st October: The final stage of planning for a year involves the creation a Q4 plan, which should be created in August.
This particular plan takes into account the Christmas season which for many retailers is often the busiest time of the year.
Planning ahead of this time is key to ensure that sales opportunities are maximised and that the best selling inventory from the year is ready and available.
The First Seasonal Peaks
In order to ensure you have stock available for shipping when it’s required, use your calendar and count back from each event to when you need to:
• Identify what inventory you will need (60 days prior)
• List key inventory (45 days prior)
• Have 100 per cent of inventory listed (30 days prior)
• Have sold/dispatched half seasonal inventory (15 days prior)
Taking these as key benchmarks in your sales cycle will ensure you can meet demand in a timely fashion across all your sales platforms.
If suppliers are relying on international shipping, check-in 150 days in advance to get confirmation that they will have the stock you plan to be selling.
Addressing the Summer and Beyond
Before Easter is over retailers need to be gearing up for the summer, with warmer weather hitting the UK and consumers beginning to think about holidays, buying swimsuits, summer clothes, garden products and barbeques, among other things.
There are some lesser-known seasonal peaks however that some retailers may fail to consider adequately. These include:
• Back to school / university
• Major sporting events, e.g. the Olympics
• Fashion Weeks
• Major product launches, e.g. iPhone 4S
In 2012, no seasonal promotions plan is going to be complete without a social media element, as it can have a significant role to play in customer acquisition, engagement and retention.
Engaging with your customer-base year-round using tools such as twitter and Facebook gives online retailers the opportunity to put information about new products and offers directly into the hands of your customers at appropriate moments for the season.
If managed well, social media channels will also open-up a two way dialogue, giving customers the opportunity to provide feedback and help you to grow your business strategically – with customers at the centre of your planning.
Retailers need to follow the best practice actions AROUND 60, 45, 30 and 15 days prior to each seasonal peak as key benchmarks to ensure demand is met, as in an era of convenience where the consumer expects what they want, when they want it, through whichever channel they want, it’s not an option for retailers to fail to keep up with demand.
Retailers must also consider the more extraordinary peaks that they may not normally consider, as these may also provide great opportunities to generate extra revenue.
Integrating this seasonal planning process with an effective social media strategy will ensure that retailers are harnessing the potential of social media in the customer acquisition, engagement and retention process.
Planning and executing these steps will ensure that they are taking advantage of the seasonal revenue opportunities in 2012 and beyond.