As selling through the year can become a most repetitive activity for retailers and companies, seasonal events suddenly offer an exit from the madding sales and e-commerce world.
The next thing you now is that you’re thinking about Christmas in March, structuring a new team for Halloween sales and being sure that daydreaming is the only needed thing for a seasonal product marketing strategy.
Of course, there’s more to that than meets the retailer’s eye. From choosing which seasonal products to sell to scheduling a product launch strategy, there’re some tricky aspects you should consider before going all seasonal. We give you 10 key points that will make you better equipped for any holiday sales.
1. Seasonal or steady?
Normally, it wouldn’t be advisable for a business to make its sales spin around seasonal items. We’re used to see it as a running joke in fiction: an all-year-round Halloween store is just a bad idea (yes, Bojack the Horseman or Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt writers).
This retail commandment is based on common sense and sales numbers: seasonal products have a super short selling period, from two months to just a week, depending on the popularity of each festivity or holiday. That means that the rest of the year customers are going to give those seasonal products little attention and the profitability will dramatically drop.
But that doesn’t mean that a business can’t rely only on seasonal products… for a brief period of time. A retail business could base its strategy on selling only in highly seasonal markets, and profits may be high enough to justify running the business for just a few weeks, while the rest of the year it remains closed.
"Products with a steady demand are commonly a safer bet (regular traffic, sales and profit levels)."
Although products with a steady demand are commonly a safer bet (regular traffic, sales and profit levels, increasing online search volume, predictable growth and stock demands…), it’s totally valid for a business to sell only seasonal products all year round, or specializing as a pop-up business that always comes back for Halloween, Easter or Christmas.
2. Better, but brief, conversion rates
Some business that are not specialized in seasonal products tend to neglect this kind of products as a yearly obligation or a mere complement to their more important general catalog.
But seasonal can be a great and unexpected occasion for making sales numbers grow a little, as seasonal products have higher conversion rate due to the urgency that customers feel to buy scarce and limited items.
The bad news is that shortly after that the sales will drop down to zero, but that sales peak could add a cheeky boost to your annual sales numbers.
3. A product for every occasion
A business should choose which holidays it wants to join, and, therefore, what type products must be developed for the season. Not all seasonal products are related to seasons or holidays, but also to social/familiar/personal events and occasions, both public and private, like college graduations or back to school time.
Find the holidays that are more suitable for your type of products, or identify among your product catalog where are the best seasonal opportunities. Even non-related products can be adapted to a particular season if your marketing team analyzes current trends, past demands or creative proposals that could change the way customers see some product during the holidays.
4. At least one product per season
If a company handles a good catalog and has enough resources, it should launch at least one seasonal product per season. That would add additional but steady sales to the main catalog or the ‘evergreen’ products during the slow season, but don’t neglect those regular products while in season.
This is also a great opportunity to reuse some holiday marketing strategy to a new one, and see if there’re some patterns that can be always applied or if there’s something that you need to refine for each season.
5. If you are not in retail, you’re still seasonal
When talking about seasonal products, retail companies always come to mind, but B2B businesses could also benefit from these strategies.
For example, each kind of service has a higher demand during a period of the year, like wedding photographers in Spring-Summer, tax consultants in January or April… And their seasonal schedules can go in the opposite direction: while retail undergoes the best sales season on Q4, B2B businesses often slow down their activity in December, when the year is wrapped up and decisions for the new term are still in the making.
6. Begin soon
The sharpest businesses start their seasonal product launch strategy in Q2, but that depends on the company’s volume. The general advice is that seasonal products must be prepared and even sell way ahead the official holiday period.
If you sell seasonal products in advance, you can begin to benefit from early bird shoppers, the first hype seekers and a scenario where everything is still new and the competition is lower.
Study what type of online searches began during pre-season weeks and take advantage of those keywords that might not be as competitive yet. Also, you can make a first approach to the level of demand among customers, foresee how much stock you will need, and is the marketing strategy needs some readjustments.
Schedule your strategy in advance, and save enough time to study metrics, keyword and trends research, and creating quality product material.
7. Consider international sales
The good thing about seasonal products is that they can still be interesting in other parts of the world. For example, when you’re promoting summer clothes in USA and Europe you could sell winter clothes in Australia. You can perform different seasonal strategies for each market or continent, or just leave your seasonal products as available items for a smaller group of people that look for that type of products during the whole year.
Selling on marketplaces is a good strategy for these out-of-season seasonal products, as you can have them in visible mode, but not as protagonists of your catalog and branded channels, and offer sales, because the main traffic of customers in marketplaces is looking for special discounts and bargains.
8. Get media attention
Is you want to support your product marketing strategy with some media exposure, seasonal catalogs are a great time for grabbing journalists, bloggers, instagrammers and youtubers attention. You could find good deals to gain publicity among your audience niche, as content creators are always hunting for new products, trends and releases to add to their grids, gift guides, unboxings and recommendations.
9. Frenzy management
Tools for managing automation like a PIM system (Product Information Manager) make each new season simpler, because you can add new products and product information with no limits, and easily export it to your sales channels, like your online store in a CMS, or curated for marketplaces, or connected to design software to create quick and awesome seasonal catalogs.
"Tools for managing automation like a PIM make each new season simpler."
The most tricky part when you have seasonal products to sell is not metrics or catch lines: is the management.
Adding new products in a lot of channels requires a very well synchronized team effort, and the customer service and warehouse teams must also be warned about new product variations, inventory levels and tasks, in order to avoid oversell items or give customers the wrong data during the craziest holidays, like Black Friday or Cyber Monday.
10. Dress for the occasion
Finally, selling in season is a bit like those restaurants where waiters put on some antlers or elf shoes for Christmas. It might seem embarrassing, but it’s unavoidable for creating the proper atmosphere and engaging clients.
Customize your sales channels with a tailored visual strategy for each season or holiday, according to the palette or style of your seasonal products that will make them easily recognizable.
With these tips and the right software tools, you can automate the most repetitive and boring tasks of each season and reserve time for the most creative part, and never mix Santa’s hats up with Easter Bunny’s ears again.