As the weather warms up after a long winter, consumers are logging off their computers and taking off to beach vacations, backyard barbecues and hiking excursions. While it’s a natural occurrence to experience a decline in sales during the summer, your business can’t just close up shop for the season. So, how do you cope with the traditional slowdown in sales activity without pulling out your hair in frustration? Here’s some ideas that might help.

Summer Doldrums
Most companies experience a traditional decrease in sales during the summer months and are at a loss to explain what is happening. Fear not — a seasonal decrease is normal in the digital e-commerce industry due to most of the northern hemisphere taking vacations throughout the summer. People just aren’t in their homes (and on their computers) as much. If your annual sales charts resemble any of the following, you are experiencing the typical summer sales doldrum:

Example 1: Annual Sales Cycle
Example 1: Annual Sales Cycle
Example 2: Annual Sales Cycle
Example 2: Annual Sales Cycle

Obviously, the southern hemisphere is in their winter season when the northern hemisphere is in summer, so you can’t just shut down your e-commerce activities. So what can you do about this expected seasonal decline?

What to do during the off-season
First of all, think about how many people are not at their desks, are thinking about their vacations or have other expenses during the summer (as compared to the winter when many folks are bundled up inside for months). Not only are consumers less available during the summer, but they are less willing to spend money on unnecessary items. So sending an additional e-mail campaign to your existing customers isn’t really the right thing to do. Nor is it advisable to keep dropping prices in “specials” in order to generate additional sales to maintain an artificial sales volume. Accept that there is seasonality, and plan accordingly. Additional situations that affect sales are:

  • New product release – decline in sales activities before new product is released and substantial increase after new product is released
  • Price change – increase as price decreases, but could be temporary if product is nearing end of product life-cycle
  • Market changes – competitors appear with similar products, likely to result in lower sales

Knowing that there are many things that affect your sales, in addition to the season, plan ahead to take advantage of the season. Some ideas include:

  • Use summer to work with beta testers – take this off time to dig deeper to find out what your customers want in your product.
  • Prepare for fall/winter product release cycles – develop additional features that were on hold while you focused on sales.
  • Grow relationships with your partners to remain on the minds of your customers – enhance your channel relationships to increase future sales.
  • Don’t discount your own product to generate business, unless it’s an end of product cycle – Your customers should already receive sufficient marketing e-mails from you. Don’t pile more on top trying to chase a few additional dollars. It could do more harm than good!
  • Target mobile devices for communications – If you are doing your normal e-mail marketing, try a different target device to see if that works.
  • Take a well-earned vacation too – If everyone else is doing it, why shouldn’t you recharge the batteries a bit?

Be confident
It takes a confident person to admit that there is seasonality and to believe that the sales will return without additional effort. Look at your own sales figures on a monthly basis for each of the last few years to confirm this and then use the off-season to recharge your business for the coming return of your customers in autumn.

Don’t waste energy trying to maintain sales levels from the spring. Instead, plan for the following autumn and winter. What are some of the tasks that you plan for and complete during the summer off-season? Have you found any successful strategies for selling in summer?