Agency X Podcast: Beating the eCommerce Summer Slump

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4 min read
by: John Surdakowski and David Anzalone06/14/2021

Quick Summary While the start of the summer season can mean pool time, vacations, and relaxing, it means something completely different for e-commerce shop owners. Avoid the common summer sales slump with these tips from John and David.

Below is a transcription of the highlights from our podcast episode on increasing sales during the summer months. If you’d rather listen to the episode, click here

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What is the Summer Slump?

David 2:58 - 3:30 It's usually been found that in the summer months of June, July and August, people are spending more of their money and time on experiences with traveling and theme parks or water parks. COVID made last summer a little bit different, it might have been the one exception to the age-old rule. But with things going back to normal, this is going to get a little bit more streamlined or a little more back to the way things were. 

How Do I Avoid the Summer Slump?

Summer Discounts

David 3:30 - 5:04 So the first and most obvious thing that you can do to address that if you're noticing that your sales are faltering in those months is discounting. Discounting is a double-edged sword because discounting can be a great way to move products to adopt new customers, but it has to be treated pretty cautiously because the discount has to have a purpose. If you're just doing a discount for no reason and you're tying it to some vague event like a Summer Sale, that can work to a point but it can be seen as vague if it's not very compatible with your brand. 

So the ways to address that are events in the summer or holidays. Try to find ones that maybe aren't huge but might fit your niche a bit. There's always some random national holiday like national slinky Day or National T-Shirt Day. Some random crazy holiday during the summer months can be a pretty good tongue-in-cheek way of making some relevance to your branding.

Selling Last Season’s Products

John 8:04 - 9:11 During the summer, that's when you hit up Burton, and you hit up Dakine and all of these snowboard stores because that's when they run their sales. They're getting rid of last season's gear. So whether it's snowboards or, or ski gear, or things like that for the winter months, I jump on those sales because you get things 50% off. Jumping on some of those deals (things that you might buy in the winter and getting them in the summer from last season) is something customers are going to want to do. 

I know there are definitely brands looking to get rid of inventory, which doesn't necessarily hurt the branding too, because like they know it's last season, so you're getting it at a discounted rate, rather than waiting for the newness to come out prior to Black Friday Cyber Monday. 

That's really smart to plan it and think of it as like a mini holiday season where you're being a lot more intentional with it rather than just saying hey, we're just gonna run promotions or, or we're just gonna wing it. I think having some sort of plan and planning every quarter is what any business should be doing.

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Utilizing Lower Traffic Months

Testing and Optimizing Your Store 

David 10:52 - 12:34 With the lower sales, it also usually comes with a lower amount of traffic. That's really a great opportunity to do testing on your site. Some brands don't want to change things up too much during really busy seasons because (and rightfully so) they don't want to disrupt their customer's buying journey. The summertime perfect opportunity to do that testing, regardless of what it is. It could be implementing a new feature that you've always wanted to have, which has never really been possible because of the major changes that would have to come to your site. 

Probably my favorite example, for both testing and implementing (because of the different possibilities) is the product page details. There are so many different ways that you can design and implement a section with the products, title, some details, the product options, and the interface with that, as well as the Add to Cart button. And there are so many things that you can do to optimize it or to test it or to tweak it, everything from product options, or is it horizontal buttons, is it vertical, changing the Add to Cart button color, do you have detailed bullets, etc. These are a lot of things that you can optimize, test, and tweak.

John 23:36 - 24:22 Even if it's just focusing on things that you want to roll out. And now you have the time to be able to focus on optimizing, or 3PLs and fulfillment, it could be optimizing things, it could be migrating an ERP system, it could be integrating an inventory management system, it could be taking your website headless. 

Whatever it is, I think that's a good time of year to be able to focus on that mainly because once September, October, November hits, you should be doing that code-free so that you're focusing on the holiday season which I think this year was going to be even bigger than ever because it's a mix of some things might be closed, people are still ordering online, but things are opening enough to so people are getting back to work and buying more things.

Looking at the Bigger Picture for Sales

David 16:56 - 18:30 Every major growth, especially ones that are rapid and exponential, eventually levels off, or they decline temporarily. And it's not a bad thing, because you also have to look at previous years. If you're noticing your sales are dropping in the summer from the winter and or the spring and you're concerned, take a look at what your sales were the year before. Is it similar? Is it exponentially different? Because I've seen brands where year to date, they may not be hitting their exact KPIs, but they made 500% more revenue in like those four months than they had the four months the previous year. This isn't factoring in for anything like marketing spend or notoriety which are these outside variables, which of course will have an impact on your site sales and conversion rate.

And to talk on that note about paid media, you'll also have to think for the summer, again, if you're noticing smaller sales, and it's a lot of it's because you have a sense that people just aren't buying what you need as much during that time, the solution isn't doubling down and increasing your ad budget by a lot. If anything, that'll probably mess up your metrics, your customer acquisition cost. You don't want to pump more money into something if you know that people aren't really in the mindset to buy. You definitely want to save that budget for the Black Friday/Cyber Monday period.

Getting Creative During the Summer Slump

John 20:24 - 21:30 Amazon created Prime Day; that's their branded thing. What's to say a higher-end brand can't create something that's a bit more tailored towards loyal customers to create a certain day in the summer that is repeatable every year that your loyal customers are looking forward to? Maybe it's a VIP program, maybe it's VIP access only for loyal customers, and they have access to this Summer Sale, or summer early access thing that happens once a year for something that you could promote at the early summer, and then it launches maybe June or July. 

But it doesn't necessarily need to be a sale, it could just be some sort of summer event. It could be a drop of a new collection, it could be some kind of collaboration, it could be looping in influencers, or celebrities to have some sort of event that you do every summer. Prior to COVID, you could have done an in-person event. And hopefully, we'll be getting back to that in the next year or so. But maybe there's some sort of special event that you do like a live event or a streaming event. You can kind of get creative during that time where you do have more of the resources to be able to launch something like that.

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