To the rest of the world summer means sun, sea and sangria, but to those of us in the world of ecommerce, it often comes with mutters of a summer sales slump. But does this slump actually exist – or is it just a delightfully alliterative phrase?

 

RJMEtrics found that while June, July and August each account for anything between 7.8 and 8% of annual revenue, this isn’t in fact the slowest time of year. That honor goes to February, which accounts for just 7.3% of the annual revenue – making the first lesson in avoiding the summer sales slump is to not panic too much about it!

However, there’s no escaping it – with no major gift-giving celebrations going on and with a large proportion of those in the Northern hemisphere taking time away from their laptops and devices to enjoy a proper holiday, there’s less shopping going on.

Want to know how to navigate a slump? Read on…

 

Think mobile

On a summer’s day, no one wants to sit at their computer longer than necessary (or worse, take it on holiday with them) so it’s crucial to make sure you’re mobile optimized so people can still shop. Since 2015, Google no longer displays mobile search results on sites that aren’t optimized, and according to this Adobe Mobile retail study visit-to-purchase conversion rate falls from 2.8% on a desktop to just 1% on a mobile.  So, it’s clear to see that this is one time of year that it’s particularly crucial to get this right.

Steps to take:

  • Make sure your checkout process is tailored for mobile, removing additional steps, and allowing customers to check out by providing the bare minimum of information.
  • Improve the speed of your mobile site – low bandwidth can be a major reason for abandoning a purchase, and this is a particular problem for many when they go on holiday.
  • Add a digital wallet payment option, in addition to credit cards – research firm Nielsen say that PayPal transactions have a 70% higher checkout conversion than non-PayPal transactions.
  • If in doubt, use this Google tool to check for mobile compatibility.

 

Make discoverability easy

It’s safe to assume that when the BBQ is smoking and the beers are being chilled, people have less time to spend diving deep into your site to find their perfect product. Make it easy for them to find what they need, by either personalizing the site to the visitor or creating more general themed lists or suggestions, such as ‘Back to School’ or ‘Summer Holiday Reads’.

Steps to take:

  • Use the general site data you have to communicate to the customer which items convert the best and therefore they’re most likely to be interested in. By including a Best Sellers category, you can play into every human’s tendency to believe in the ‘wisdom of crowds’. If you’re able to, make this a dynamic list of products, so that it constantly updates and can reflect any changes in temperature or seasonality immediately.
  • If someone has visited your site before, personalize their next visit. Show them items they’re likely to be interested in based on what they’ve previously bought, or remind them of the items they left in their cart. This level of personalization can reap big rewards – a study by O2 showed that personalization is capable of increasing sales by 7.8%.   Alternatively, use the data you have on what similar customers have bought to suggest additional purchases.

Milkway knows what their customers like..!

 

Consider your shipping

Shipping tends to be one of those ‘set and forget’ areas, but if you haven’t considered your shipping offering recently, it’s worth doing. There are certain times of year that shipping becomes more important, and summer is most definitely one of them.

Steps to take:

  • Offer international shipping – it might be summer in the Northern hemisphere, but it’s winter down south. If you still have more wintery items in stock, by opening up your store to those around the world you’re limiting how much you’re affected by seasonality.
  • Offer quick shipping – We’ve all been there – realized that we’ve forgotten to buy sun cream/sunglasses/a decent holiday read just days before we get on a plane.  Next Day and even Same Day Shipping is becoming more standard – and according to Clouder, 52% of people would specifically choose a retailer that offered same day delivery over those that didn’t and 67% would spend more if it meant they would get same-day delivery. With larger retailers constantly working to decrease their delivery times, it’s a key area for online retailers of any size to try to improve.
  • Offer free shipping – According to recent research from Bronto, only 18% of online-only businesses offer free shipping on any purchase, any time, compared to 30% of multi-channel retailers. But with 38% of customers deciding to only shop on sites that offer it, it’s a big opportunity for online retailers. And if you’re offering free shipping after a customer reaches a certain basket amount, help them get there. At checkout, show how far away they are from qualifying, and suggest items that will push them over the threshold.

 

Designonline shows customers exactly how to qualify for free shipping

Sales still work

Last year, Amazon’s annual mid-July Prime Day Sale was their biggest EVER day for sales, surpassing the previous year by more than 60% worldwide. And there’s a reason it occurs when it does – it’s right in the middle of a month that the company would otherwise expect to be slow (although February is a slower month for sales, lots of people are still feeling the effect of spending over the holidays).

Steps to take:

  • If you’re planning a sale – commit! It takes a concerted effort to make sure your customers know it’s happening, so take to Facebook, Instagram, Twitter to spread the word – anywhere that someone might still hang out online, even if they’re not at their computer.

 

Email Marketing

Your customers may not be in front of their computer, but they’re almost certainly still going to be looking at personal emails, making email marketing key at this time of year.

Nosto data shows that ‘We Miss You’ emails have an open rate of 40%, and an average value per email sent of € 0,14. The key to cutting through the noise is to make sure that you’re delivering true value when you land in someone’s inbox – you’re taking them away from lounging by the pool, after all!

Steps to take:

  • Personalize emails – at Nosto, we’ve found that emails containing personalized recommendations were 100% more likely to convert. You can include items they’ve previously browsed, items they’re likely to be interested in based on their previous on-site behaviour, or add-on items for things they’ve already purchased. Whichever you do, by using something like Nosto’s Personalized Widgets, the whole process is automated.

 

Bodybuilding Warehouse uses data about a customer’s previous visits to show personalized recommendations in their emails

 

One way of ensuring a stress-free summer (and potentially even fitting in a holiday of your own – imagine!) is to automate as much as possible. Whether it’s collecting data to personalize a customer’s on-site experience, or recommending products in emails that you know have a good chance of converting thanks to their previous purchases, automation can go a long way in taking the effort out of your digital marketing endeavors.

It’s also worth remembering that a slower summer isn’t just something to be avoided at all costs – this is when you can take time to assess what’s worked and what hasn’t throughout the year, and finalize your planning for the upcoming winter holiday period. So as well as working through these tips, remember to take a moment to kick back with a cold drink and enjoy the warmer months!