Dismissing 2020 – when online sales were completely skewed by the pandemic lockdown – most online retailers usually experience a lull in sales during the summer period. According to IMRG, in July 2019, ecommerce experienced its lowest ever growth and continued to fall well below the 5-year sales average of +9.6% in August, reaching just +3%. Summer is the season when people go away and spend more time outdoors. Shopping is not top of mind. But this doesn’t mean that online retailers should relax.
This market lull is also the perfect moment in the year to think about nurturing existing customers and acquiring new ones. Building your audience just before peak trading starts to kick in will pay dividends.
What should you do to boost traffic and increase engagement?
Attract those consumers who are still online by associating your brand with long, lazy summer days. Run a summer-themed promotion with big-ticket prizes or a carefully curated package of your best-selling products and splash it everywhere – not just on your ecommerce site, but all over your social channels too.
Make your customers feel special by rewarding them for their loyalty. Those who are part of a loyalty programme could be sent a money-off coupon, a complimentary birthday gift, or two months’ worth of free deliveries.
Make sure it’s genuinely generous, that they understand how much you value their custom, and that they can redeem it easily and without any customer service delays. The promise of a bargain can have a positive impact on consumer buying, even if it is during the summer months.
Create a sense of urgency to encourage shoppers to purchase sooner rather than later and focus on the products or product lines that most suit the circumstances – discounting umbrellas when there’s wall-to-wall sunshine outside won’t work, but a sale on swimwear or sun hats probably will.
Test the market and determine what is effective to drive sales
Boost loyalty with some housekeeping. Another approach is to take a closer look at the stumbling blocks on your ecommerce site across all channels.
Are you losing customers at the shopping basket stage? If so, investigate whether you have enough delivery options to match all requirements and add more if you think it will improve your abandonment rate.
Is it difficult for shoppers to process coupons or are they being put off by service fees? Build an automated chatbot that asks for feedback and address the problem immediately.
These are all issues that can be ironed out before the busy peak period starts.
And don’t forget social media. Today’s Gen-Z consumer is more likely to shop through a retailer’s social media channels, so make sure your products and your loyalty strategy extend everywhere.
Carefully monitor where they land if they do come to your website from social – if it’s directly on a product page, they are missing rich content and multiple other opportunities to buy on other pages or realise special offers and promotions.
The summer months might be quieter, but this year you can make the most of shoppers being very limited in overseas travel. Offer them a big bundle of love to keep them coming back to your site, time after time.