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Seasonal Sales Slowdown

Now that it’s summer, I’ve heard people mention they’re in the middle of a seasonal sales slowdown.  Many people take vacations during the summer, so it’s natural that they would shop online less.

But that doesn’t mean you have to have a sales slowdown, it just means you need a different product mix.  For example, if you sold primarily products for going to the beach you would probably see a sales peak in summer rather than have a slowdown.

As an online retailer, you have one very big advantage over your brick and mortar counterparts – you can sell products in very different categories and no one will think that’s strange (though if you’re selling on your own site, rather than Amazon or eBay, you probably want multiple websites if you sell disparate products).

In any given season you should sell products for that season and the next one.  So in summer you should sell products for summer and fall, in fall you should sell for fall and winter, etc.  Of course, some products aren’t seasonal.  If you primarily sell non-seasonal products you can still add some seasonal products into your mix to smooth out the troughs.

If you sell products targeted at all four seasons you may think you need to have a lot more inventory.  You probably do need more inventory, but not as much as it might seem.  You just need to let your inventory of seasonal products run down near the end of each season, freeing up the capital to invest in the next upcoming season.  So you would stop purchasing summer-specific products in mid-summer, and start purchasing winter-specific products (the exact timing of when you stop depends on how long it is from placing an order for inventory to when it’s available on your site.  The longer this time is the sooner in the season you need to stop ordering for the current season and start ordering for the next upcoming season).

Christmas season is the one exception to this, where you can sell products for any time of year.  You do need extra capital to take advantage of this.  I normally start ramping up inventory purchases for Christmas in June, and stop around the end of October.  My inventory is highest around the beginning of November, which is when Christmas shopping begins in earnest, and lowest in January.

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  1. July 12, 2013 at 3:11 am

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