No doubt about it—January is downright depressing. With happy holiday memories in the rear-view and ransacked bank accounts in the foreground, the struggle is more real than ever. What’s more, today we “celebrate” Blue Monday—aka the most depressing day of the year. Understandably, this exhausted, melancholic mindset sends many of us into survival mode.
On the ecommerce side, shopper’s emotional slumps can quickly translate to sales slumps that leave store owners scrambling to generate revenue in slower months. Couple this with an influx in holiday profit-eroding returns, and it can feel like you’re working more for less money.
But don’t despair yet. Not only are we here to help you manage your returns, we’d also like to remind you that there are plenty of would-be buyers seeking retail therapy and accessories to accompany their new wares.
So instead of careening headlong into a full-blown lull, why not look at January as the reset your business needs to make the upcoming year your most profitable yet. Think of the following practices like a Whole30 for your online store—a healthy way to get back on track and increase sales during inevitable downturns.
1. Launch a loyalty program.
Earning a customer’s trust is hard, but rewarding it is easy. Though each specific system is a bit differently, the strategy is ultimately the same. Every time a customer shops your online store, you track their purchases and offer them something in return as they accumulate. Whether they shop their way to discounts, free products, or exclusive offers, a loyalty program keeps your customers bated and gives you a competitive edge.
You can also turn these repeat sales into an easy referral opportunity. For starters, the more generous the rewards, the more likely customers are to share their experiences with loved ones and social media followers.
But you don’t have to leave it to chance. Incentivize brand ambassadorship with a rewards-for-referrals component of your loyalty program. It’s free marketing for you and an easy sell to your already loyal customers. The trick is to target your offers based on a shopper’s history and buying behavior to keep them coming back for more.
2. Promote pop-up sales.
There’s a reason Beyonce likes to drop albums and videos unannounced—it engenders an element of intrigue and spontaneity that’s hard to resist. Pop-up sales have a similar effect on shoppers. If you’re not sure your sale has the appeal of an international zeitgeist, we suggest quietly announcing it to your social media followers, preferred shoppers (see above), or a segmented portion of your email list at least 48 hours prior to the sale.
The idea is to get your customers in the habit of checking their inboxes and feeds for news of a killer, impromptu sale. The best part? Any time is a good time for a pop-up sale. Hit them when they least expect it for an extra element of impulsiveness—winter bathing suit sale, anyone?—or choose a lesser known holiday or anniversary that’s representative of your brand.
Even in a month when money is tight, pop-up sales are compulsory and can provide the perfect pick-me-up for someone in the doldrums.
3. Create custom pieces and limited editions.
No one likes missing out—just the fear of it has even landed the term FOMO in the Oxford dictionary. Sellers can use this to their advantage during slow sales months.
True, the “while supplies last” angle isn’t new, but it is effective. The sense of scarcity draws customers in while the urgency and exclusivity seals the sale.We’ve seen it time and time again—unique, one-of-a-kind merchandise is good for customer bragging rights and shop sales alike. Whether you host a contest where shoppers can win a custom piece or offer a limited edition run of your most popular product, the novelty is a great way to generate a buzz during a decline.
4. Reinforce New Year’s resolutions.
January is all about new years and new yous. Show that you’re a supportive brand who’s here to help. This might mean discounting certain seasonally-oriented items or shining your marketing lens on trendy products that help with major goals.
You might also take this time to come up with some New Year’s resolutions for your business. Whether you’ve been putting off that SEO refresh because it was too intimidating during the holiday rush or you’re overdue for good old-fashioned goal setting, there’s no time like the present.
5. Supplement past purchases.
If a customer has it in their head that they need to make a return, there’s likely very little you can do to stop them. Better to put your focus on the larger majority of shoppers who are not only satisfied with your product, but are also already primed to make additional purchases.
Offering affordable accessories to enhance a past purchase is extra enticing. Start by updating all of your product pages with a curated list of add-ons. This way, the next time they visit your site to submit a review or get additional info about their new buy, they’ll be greeted with a list of complementary accessories to help complete and upgrade their purchase.
You can also spend some time perfecting your conversion generating retargeting strategy. More advanced ads now allow you to showcase prices and perfect pairings to any potentially interested buyers who have visited and left your store without making a purchase.
Finally, when selecting which items to include in your pop-up sale or seasonal clear out event, be strategic about the extras that go best with your biggest sellers. For instance, if you carry a stellar charcoal beauty mask, promote a moisturizing toner or night cream that enhances its skin-enhancing properties.
6. Put out teasers for new product.
Sometimes the big reveal can also be a big reel that beckons your customers to come back and pay you a visit after the holiday rush has subsided. We recommend loading your social media feeds up with teaser videos and snaps of impending steals and entirely new product lines. Give them sneak peeks of everything you have cued up for the new year and let the likes roll in. Be sure to have staff briefed on specifics like exact release dates, price-points, and more so that they can answer any customer questions.
Create campaigns that generate buyer buildup through high-resolution photos, video sizzlers, and crafty copy. Done right, you can even gain some new followers ahead of time and poise your product for unprecedented sales.Want to put out new products but aren’t sure what you want to sell or how to make such a critical decision? This Comprehensive Guide to Finding Ecommerce Products to Sell Online has everything you need to get started…and then some.
7. Perfect your product pages.
No matter how quality your merchandise is, if the product images and descriptions don’t reflect it you’re sunk. Who knows, January may be the only downtime you get to make vital updates to your product pages. It’s a little work upfront that can have long-term positive implications for your brand. The fresher, more optimized your product pages are, the more visually appealing, easy to navigate, and higher ranking they’ll be. This fuels your online store with some serious selling power.
We’d also like to remind you not to neglect the parts you can’t see. “Invisible content” contained in the metadata of your product pages’ title, URL, and meta description mean everything to the search engines that be.For more product page secrets, don’t miss this post on how Microcopy can increase conversions with transactional content on your site’s most mission-critical buttons.
8. Curtail cart abandonment.
Can you imagine increasing your sales by 70 percent? According to some estimates, that’s the average rate of abandoned shopping carts on ecommerce sites. If you made one sale for each of those previously castaway carts, you’d be in good shape no matter the slump. It’s why reducing cart abandonment is an evergreen strategy that’s guaranteed to increase your sales. We’ll leave it to you to do the implementing, but we recommend cycling through some of the site elements in the post linked above to rescue those sales.
In the end, you may not always be able to fully avoid a selling slowdown. January is generally a month in which everyone—especially ecommerce store owners—feels the sting. But it doesn’t have to be a downward spiral either. Driving revenue could be as easy as using the slowdowns effectively, getting focused, and implementing a few sales-saving strategies to get you through the slump and back on the up-and-up.
Have some more tips for surviving slow ecommerce months? Share with us in the comments!