How Online Merchants Profit from Seasonal Selling, Year-Round

by Rakuten Super Logistics | eCommerce Strategy, Holiday Fulfillment

A seasonal business can be very profitable in Q4, but you can extend your profitability year-round by selling the right products at the right time.

Sellers can increase their bottom line by taking advantage of seasonal sales opportunities present in Q1, Q2, and Q3 rather than solely relying on increased holiday sales in Q4.

Think about the factors that affect sales and demand throughout the year like seasonal changes, holidays, and events. Don’t wait till Q4 holidays to start selling again. Instead, look for trends in seasonal changes, such as weather and temperature changes, to profit off of seasonal sales throughout the year.

Compile a list of events that trigger demand during the first nine months of the year, then come up with a list of corresponding products you can sell to meet the demand. Don’t limit yourself to traditional holidays like Easter and Valentine’s Day. Be sure to include shopping holidays, as well, such as Amazon Prime Day in July. Check out this list of “holidays” for more inspiration.

Opportunities for Seasonal Sales Throughout the Year
  • Q1: Q1 is a great time to sell online because many online shoppers wait until the holiday season ends to make bulk purchases, since prices typically go down after Christmas. When Q1 rolls in, many people look to return gifts received during the holiday season. These returns could lead to new purchases with a higher value and an opportunity for cross-selling. Popular selling holidays lending to ecommerce sales in Q1 also include St. Patrick’s Day, Super Bowl and Valentine’s Day.
  • Q2: Online sellers can take advantage of Easter, Father’s Day, Mother’s Day, the NBA Finals, and the NHL’s Stanley Cup Finals during Q2. When it comes to Mother’s Day and Father’s Day, pay attention to trending products and source appropriately. For sports holidays, pay close attention to teams with a large fan base and those competing in the NBA and NHL finals. Be quick to source and promote products related to these teams (think hats, jerseys, t-shirts, and accessories).
  • Q3: A strong Q3 will prepare you for the intensity that comes with the Q4 holiday sales season. Q3 is especially important because of Amazon Prime Day, which takes place during the 2nd week of July. Between Prime Day, summer products, and the back-to-school rush, this time presents many seasonal sales opportunities to sellers. Q3 is also the time to start sourcing for Q4 in preparation for year-round selling.
  • Q4: Do some research to find out trending products in Q4 among different demographics and start sourcing immediately. Pay close attention to items promoted on social media, trending brands, and pop culture to get an idea of popular products to source. Invest in children’s trending toys and games, as this will always be a category in high demand for the holidays. Also, don’t overlook less common categories such as grocery. There are many easy-to-handle pantry items that are staples during the holidays and will always be in demand during this time.
Optimizing the Transition Between Seasons

Switching between seasons can be a tedious process. Many sellers are often left wondering if they’ll sell their new inventory and what will become of their past inventory. Here’s how to make the most of the transition between seasons:

  • For past season inventory, decide whether to store product for next year or liquidate with flash sales and clearance markdowns
  • Ensure your new inventory is accessible to your customers where they want to buy, including online marketplaces and social media platforms
  • Order products you know your customers will love by analyzing past purchase behavior
  • Sell new merchandise confidently, using a combination of marketing tactics and promotions
  • Revamp your branding to set the tone for every new season and to capture your customers’ attention
  • Establish personalized relationships with your customers to maintain consistent purchases year-round
Seasonal Merchandise Planning

Customer preferences change with the seasons. What does remain constant is your need for optimized merchandise planning. Why must you implement proper merchandise planning? Here are a few reasons:

  • To optimize cost management and pricing according to the market, therefore achieving better turnover
  • To make personalized discounts and offers based on preferred products and customer profile to drive sales
  • To increase up-sales and cross-sales by recommending the right products to customers
  • To put the right product, at the right time, in front of consumers to increase seasonal sales
  • To optimize inventory and be ready to meet seasonal demands throughout the year
Seasonal Selling Marketing Strategies

Online sellers benefit from altering their marketing strategies during seasonal holiday periods to drive sales. Below are 5 selling strategies you can use to market your seasonal business and increase seasonal sales:

  • Update your ecommerce website with photography, banners, and graphics to reflect the seasonal holiday. For instance, featured products should reflect the upcoming season of Christmas.
  • Leverage Instagram and engage your customers by encouraging them to use appropriate seasonal hashtags. The platform has 500 million active monthly users with 95 million videos and photos shared daily.
  • Upload a seasonal video on your website informing your customers about post-Christmas sales you may have.
  • Run shopping campaigns on Google. Consumers use Google to search for store locations and product reviews and perform 3 billion searches on Google daily.
  • Incorporate podcast advertising in your strategy based on your products and target audience. A research conducted reveals that 67 million Americans tune in to podcasts every month.
Inventory Management Best Practices

Inventory management will keep the processes of your business flowing, workforce on-task, and boost your bottom line. Below are inventory management best practices that apply to any business:

  • Categorize your company’s assets based on moveable vs. fixed assets, department, use case, and value. Store this data in a central asset database for analyzing data collected and easy access.
  • Use asset tracking systems to save time, maintain accuracy, simplify documentation, and streamline your inventory management systems.
  • Tracking systems will also make it simple to order equipment and supplies needed to keep your business flowing easily.
  • Through inventory control and asset management, you can easily predict the lifespan of equipment and spare parts, enabling you to prepare for repairs and maintenance before they occur.
  • Data collected through inventory management will enable you identify products to prioritize—maintaining minimum stock levels and avoiding out-of-stock scenarios.
Conclusion

Seasonal sales do not have to be limited to Q4 holidays only. Implementing the right tactics and best practices for seasonal selling year-round can be highly profitable for online sellers.

Sourcing the right products by following trends and planning in advance of major events, seasonal changes, and holidays will enable you to maintain cash flow year-round and stay ahead of your competitors.

Start by making a list of events that drive sales for your target markets, then come up with a product-sourcing plan that will meet this demand. Pair your sourcing strategy with a strong marketing and inventory management strategy for steady success, year-round.