The Importance of Seasonality in Successful eCommerce and Merchandising
Another summer is drawing to a close, and we all know what that means in the eCommerce world… dare we even whisper it:
Sure, any discussion of the most wonderful time of the year before October is likely to draw groans from a lot of people, but all savvy store owners and merchandisers know that now is the right time to start fattening up that Christmas goose.
So get your Santa hat out of the attic and pull up a chair to the fireplace, because Grandpa Kite is about to to retell the old tale: ‘Using Seasonality to Boost Your Sales’....
Seasonality: an ever-evolving trend
First, we’ll start by stating the obvious: people spend more over the holiday season. People are prepared to spend money, and they even enjoy doing it.
Online shopping is growing in popularity year on year, with regular brick and mortar stores literally being left out in the cold. More and more shoppers are choosing the convenience of shopping on their smartphones over hectic in-store holiday sales, with last year seeing almost 40% of all Black Friday sales coming via a mobile device. The online generation has seen one too many ‘cut-price TV mobility scooter fight!’ videos on YouTube and we want out.
Interestingly, it seems that in recent years, the spirit of Christmas is also adopting a ‘treat yo’self’ mentality: According to a survey by Forbes, more than half of people asked also planned to buy gifts for themselves in the holiday season, with men spending approximately $400 on themselves and women spending $242.
Far from being passé, seasonality is more relevant than ever with the recent rise of influencer merchandising. Seasonality can help influencers monetize their huge followings by creating custom-designed merchandise to sell to their eager fans.
Let's take a look at a great example of an influencer who has used seasonality to boost sales:
The Queen of Influencers herself, Zoella, used this tactic last year to boost sales of her Christmas beauty range which she announced to her millions of fans:
Her Christmas products broke sales records at Superdrug, where they were sold, with products selling out on the first day. This is a perfect example of the impact that influencers have on their fans. Not taking advantage of this by merchandising would be a big mistake!
It's not just influencers who can take advantage of seasonality to boost sales, eCommerce stores that plan accordingly do this time and time again with great success.
Naturally, not everyone can have their own high-street beauty ranges, but there are plenty of other ways to get your slice of the pumpkin pie (Oh wait, that’s Thanksgiving… ok we’ll stop with the puns now).
Making a plan
If you have a keen eye, you may have noticed that the Zoella christmas merchandise video above was originally posted in August. This isn't a mistake. To make the most of seasonality you need to be prepared well in advance.
Preparing your products/stock
Offering season-based designs and gift-based products might seem a little corny, but it’s a tried and tested method.
Science, of course. Limited edition products create a sense of urgency among consumers and can even encourage them to purchase more because they don't want to miss out. Shoppers spend roughly $1.5 billion – a rise of 28% – through online channels to take advantage of discounted and limited-time offers.
The sorts of products you offer won’t be a one-size fits all solution – you know your brand and ultimately, what your fans or customer base are likely to want to spend money on. However, here are some Quick Wins to complement your existing range:
Design your own on-brand-yet-horrible Christmas jumpers/t-shirts
Novelty mugs: capitalise on that office secret-santa, “what on earth do I get for Nigel in accounts?” panic
As an example, here’s a screenshot of a simple Xmas design uploaded into the Kite product generator which instantly applies the design to a wide selection of products.
Decide on what you're going to sell over the seasonal period and make sure that these products are available to view in your store at least a month or two in advance. For example, if you’re selling Xmas-themed merchandise then have these ready in your store by October/November. Or, if you're an influencer and you don't have a store yet, use this time to plan what designs you’re going to use on the the products you plan to sell, and create hype among your fanbase.
Give yourself plenty of time to get your store looking beautiful. On Shopify, you can work on your store and create a ‘go live’ date for when you are ready to share it with the world. Another important step in preparation is making sure you have enough inventory to see you through the Christmas rush. Don’t panic. That doesn’t mean you have to keep boxes and boxes of Christmas mugs in your own home. When you work with a print-on-demand service like Kite, you don’t even need to come into contact with your inventory.
The best thing about Christmas is the anticipation, right? Lucky for you, this can work in your favour when it comes to creating hype about your Christmas products. There are so many different ways you can create hype, whether its a 12 days of Christmas giveaway or a ‘Will it blend?’-inspired Christmas special, you know better than anyone what sort of promotion is going to push your followers’ buttons - or rather, get them to push that ‘Buy it Now’ button!
Influencers can also get into the Christmas spirit with a bit of cheeky self-promotion. Send your merchandise to other influencers and/or organise gift exchanges. This will give your products exposure and create even more of a buzz among your fans.
Although you want your promotion to look natural and off-the-cuff, preparation is key to a successful seasonal campaign. You’re likely to be busy with other things in the run-up to Christmas, so plan your content calendar in detail beforehand. Speaking of content calendars, it can help to download a template to work from. Click here to take a look at 8 free content calendar templates that will help you stay in check through the seasonal period.
As a reminder, here are some important seasonal dates that you need to plan for:
Halloween - 31st October
Thanksgiving - 23rd November
Black Friday - 24th November
Cyber Monday - 27th November
Super Saturday - 23rd December
Christmas Eve - 24th December
Christmas Day – yes, Christmas Day! According to Financial Times, Christmas Day has become one of the biggest days for online spending, with shoppers looking for those last remaining bargains.
Boxing Day sales - 26th December (often carries on in the week up to New Year)
January Sales - 1st January (often carries on for the remainder of January)
When the festive period starts to creep closer, make sure you hijack the best hashtags on social media. Here are a few examples:
You should also have a go at creating your own fun hashtags to get people talking, sharing, and most importantly, buying!
Seal the deal
Sure, hype is enough to drive people to your store, but the important thing is making sure they stick around long enough to buy your stuff. Here are a couple of Shopify apps you can integrate into your store to help seal the deal.
Visitors to your store will find it difficult to resist this fun little interactive app. Spin-a-Sale is a fully customisable wheel of fortune. Visitors simply enter their email address, the prize wheel spins, and they win a random discount - well, random to the customer, you get to specify the exact amounts!
Creating a sense of urgency can encourage visitors to make a purchase on the spot to avoid missing out. Seasonality and urgency go hand in hand because everyone is aware of Christmas creeping closer and closer, and using a countdown timer can help to solidify this in their minds.
When you shop online, although you save tons of money and time, you do miss out on a little bit of that festive cheer. Not with White Christmas. This amazing app allows you to decorate your store with delightful Christmas cheer. You can add snowflakes, stickers, and even festive music to put your customers in a Christmas shopping kinda mood!
There are also a couple of traditional ways you can usher customers to the checkout, and they work just as well around the holidays as they do all year round:
Don’t stop at Christmas!
Now that you’re equipped with all of these new eCommerce and merchandising tactics, why stop at Christmas?
There’s always a great occasion around the corner, such as Valentine’s Day, Easter, and Halloween. Use the tips in this article to maximise your relevance year-round.
Get started designing your Christmas product range with the Kite app for Shopify - it’s free to set up and play around with!