With the eCommerce landscape changing on a daily basis, you’ve probably always taken solace in the predictable patterns of buying, but no longer. Planning for summer sales? Read on and think again, because new consumer trends have changed all of that.
Every day we seem to get a new statistic on how consumer trends are changing, but you don’t need to trawl through the analytics to see that we have a huge blurring of lines between what used to be buoyant sales periods. Businesses used to take the first part of the year to prep for the summer sales periods and how to pull people in, but this has massively changed.
Things are not so simple anymore.
The seasonal approach to sales planning no longer works so effortlessly, as consumers are not restricted to just buying their summer products in summer. The only seasonal approach that appeared to work was the Christmas period, but after the staggering figures we witnessed in 2014, even those lines have now blurred.
With the expansion into Black Friday, Cyber Monday and so on what used to be the “January Sales” now lasts for over two months, starting at the end of November after Thanksgiving – another consequence of our global approach to eCommerce. Anything you launch and any promotions you advertise all need to translate to a global audience – consumers demand it. So, how can you make these trends work for your business?
A Change in Perspective
First and foremost, if you’re going to make these trends work in your favour, you need to stop thinking in terms of seasons with your eCommerce platform. While you can let the customer think that this is your approach with your theme, your marketing, language, and so on, a summer theme doesn’t mean that you have to be in “summer mode”.
Aside from the fact that consumers would rather wait until the end-of-summer sales to buy their summer clothes for the following year rather than pay full price, certain companies have muddied the waters slightly. Consumers will monitor their favourite online retailers all year for the right deal on their favourite brand rather than wait until the summer where they can purchase it in a store. This is the reason why companies like ASOS who can run promotions all year round, can have the edge over retailers like River Island or Topshop who are confined to seasonal collections.
These days, you have to be available 24/7/365 – people don’t want one-off sales, they want you to entice them on a constant basis, offering them new deals and new lines every week. What the customer is interested in is getting what they want at the best price, so they will sit up and take notice of a company who is trying to save them money, not one who occasionally has a seasonal sale. Everyone is a bargain hunter, and you need to change your perspective to take advantage of this.
The perspective you need to adopt is one that is always there, always online and always looking to the future to what the customer might need. This is why personalisation takes such a key role in up-to-date eCommerce offerings – it isn’t just for the benefit of the customer, but for you too. Such quality data allows you to predict what the consumer might need and react to it before they have even thought about buying it.
So, aside from the change in perspective, what about your strategy?
A Change in Strategy
We have covered why personalisation is so important, but the next one on the list to tick off should be loyalty. If you’re up against online-only retailers who can sell summer products in winter and vice versa to offer their customers the best deal, loyalty is absolutely crucial for you to address.
You need to stand out from a global crowd, and that is no easy task, so you need to be able to give people a reason to go. Building a strong brand is a great first step, but that alone is not enough to bring people back; you need to make the customer associate that brand with getting them the best price, the best deal, and the best service.
Building in a customer loyalty scheme will help you achieve this, because they will start to think of dealing with you when they need something in order to gain whatever benefit you decide to offer. Point schemes, product give-aways, competitions – it all helps to add to this idea of your brand being the one which helps them save money and offers them something for nothing.
People have always loved the word “FREE”, but today’s consumer is more likely to associate that word with deception – what’s the catch? By enticing them into a loyalty scheme, you can offer them something for almost nothing, which is much more acceptable to them.
The eCommerce industry doesn’t stand stagnant, and neither should you. Sometimes consumer trends and the speed at which they change can be a nightmare to analyse and use to your advantage, but this is an area that you can really utilise.
If anything, the blurring of these traditional boundaries is a hugely positive thing, because it allows us to be more creative and engage on a more personal level with the consumer. Not having to stick to the seasonal marketing or promotions means that you can create your own – ones that you know are important to your customer base.
Planning for summer sales? Think again.