Many seasoned shop owners are only too aware of the peaks and plummets in their sales volume with seasonal factors. To succeed you have to effectively make profitable use of peak sales seasons and improve off peak sales times. Today we will cover some great tips, plans and ideas for improving both peak and non-peak sales periods.
Let us concentrate on your peak sales season(s) first. You will find below that this is not only extremely important, but requires a great deal of preparation and planning as well.
- Generally speaking, web traffic is highest will be winter months per region. The chart below indicates the amount of traffic percentage regionally for March, 2008. So the first thing you must do is determine where your traffic comes from.
- Planning is everything! New products, good supply veins, navigation, conversion improvements, marketing, design and indeed, optimization also.
- Re-designing your store is usually a very good move, as technology changes and better platforms and functions arise constantly. However, this should be TOTALLY completed 3 months before the arrival of your peak sales period… So you have ample time to test and complete usability studies.
- Send out a marketing newsletter to previous customers, sorted by the shoppers during your peak season (if you can). Invite them back, offer them a special discount or sale item. Do this about 30 days before you begin to pick up in traffic and sales.
- Get new products, no one can grow their rank and sales effectively without the addition of new content… Your content is products. Keep the new products relevant to your store, if you get too far away from your main product line it will only dilute your content. The best opportunities are usually items that compliment your existing inventory, like accessories and replacement parts.
- Give your page titles and content a SEO freshen up. Are your page titles targeted and highly relevant? Do your pages have enough content to rank effectively with?
- Test your PPC (Pay Per Click) campaigns and tweak them well before you want them to perform in the peak season.
- Answer the phone! Obviously, you should have a customer service number on your website… Staff it well for your upcoming peak sales. If you haven’t already, get a toll free number and post the hours you will answer customer service calls with the timezone.
- Test your site and optimize your checkout, you only get one chance to make a first impression.
- Pull your annual stats for the sales period and plan out your rate of sales increase. You see ideally, your sales are improving… So determine your rate of improvement and plot is against last years sales to determine about how busy you will be. Add 5 or 10% for good measure.
- Call your suppliers and reps, let them know you expect a large increase in your sales and when. Sometimes you can even negotiate a better price with larger expected sales for a certain period. Make very certain they will be able to supply your site appropriately in the upcoming sales boost.
- Offer free shipping, gift wrapping and other amenities to bring shoppers to your site… And hopefully share it with others also!
- Deliver, deliver, deliver… Excellent service, website operations, shipping and selection so that shoppers return and send you some referral traffic.
- Use “logical” cross selling to offer shoppers additional products and raise your invoice average sales. Logical means they might actually need it! If I am shopping for a shirt and you offer me a hammer, I’m not only not biting… But I may generate an not-so good opinion of your store’s ethics.
- Offer referral discounts. Hey, if a customer can supply you a referral lead… Reward them period.
These are just some of the things your should be concentrating on to survive and even grow your peak sales. Never be afraid to use your imagination and try new things, clearly you want to think them through and monitor the results… But you never know until you try.
What about that time of the year when shop owners are sitting on their butts? Well, first of all if you are content to sit on your butt instead of growing your non-peaks sales then you may go… This will not interest you.
- Offer off-peak sales promotions designed to target different demographic groups. Have you considered taking your show on the road? If your peak sales are in the winter… Then target a different region where its winter!
- Offer special sales offers and free shipping to help you convert the traffic you do have. Give them a reason to shop now.
- Use your newsletters to bring your shoppers in for special sales and coupon opportunities. Buy some trinkets and give them away with every order for a month. Send gift certificates… Did you know that gift certificates convert better than coupons?
- This is the time to make those heavy navigation, product and design changes. Send a newsletter to your current customer base asking for ideas and letting them what changes you are considering. Want to really get your off peak sales popping? When the changes are complete send them a gift certificate or coupon and ask for their feedback!
- There is really no better time to target your local market than off peak sales times. Let’s face it, you have more time to dedicate to a great local marketing campaign.
Once again, I don’t think I can stress this enough… Use your imagination. Great ideas were thought up by someone who used their imagination and took risks to make the idea great. If you think you will fail… You most likely will.