With consumers frolicking at the beach, road tripping with family or dominating their recreational soccer league, summer can become a slow season in the e-commerce world. If you notice a dip in sales this time of year, creative marketing strategies could help turn things around. Plus, the warm summer months can even provide built-in sales opportunities for online businesses.
Here are nine tips for drumming up e-commerce sales this summer.
1. Promote a summer flash sale with limited quantity
Summer may be in full swing, but it’s never too late to host a seasonal flash sale. Consider marking down prices and offering up steep discounts for a brief window of time. Showcasing a limited supply could also work in your favor — a recent study suggests that doing so can stimulate the urge to buy. That sense of scarcity may nudge shoppers to secure limited products before anyone else does.
If you have any excess inventory from previous seasons, see if it’s possible to rebrand any items from it for the summer. This may involve snapping some new product photos and updating their descriptions on your website. Be sure to promote the flash sale across social media and put it front and center on your homepage.
2. Invest in social media
Don’t underestimate the power of Instagram and Facebook — according to the 2022 Shopper Experience Index, 69% of shoppers have been inspired by social media to make a purchase. And there are multiple ways to use these platforms to your advantage:
- Paid ads: According to marketing research firm GWI’s data, more than a quarter of social media users say they tend to buy from brands they see advertised.
- Using posts and stories: Here’s your chance to build brand awareness, interact with existing and potential customers, highlight sales events, host contests, tell your brand’s story and more.
- Partnering with influencers in your industry: If a known influencer in your field has a loyal following and believes in your products, this could be a winning combination for e-commerce sales this summer. Do some research to find ones who share your values and see if you can start a conversation about working together.
3. Update your customer loyalty program
Whether you’re starting an eBay business or already have an established e-commerce site, putting the customer first is always a good idea. The summer could be a good time to launch a loyalty program or revamp an existing one. Offering rewards can incentivize customers to continue coming back for more.
The idea is to make your customers feel appreciated and special — which might look like:
- Offering double points/rewards during the summer months
- Providing free shipping as a loyalty perk
- Offering exclusive discounts to rewards members
- Sending out small freebies with each order
4. Revisit your content marketing plan
Content marketing uses original content — think blog posts, videos and more — to provide essential information to existing and potential customers. Instead of asking them to buy, you’re simply providing them with information to help make their lives a little easier. This can help build trust and establish an organic relationship.
According to the 2022 B2B Content Marketing Report, the top five content marketing goals of 2021 were:
- Creating brand awareness
- Building credibility/trust
- Educating audiences
- Building loyalty with existing clients/customers
- Generating demand/leads
Fine-tune your content marketing plan for the summer by mixing in seasonal content. This can include videos and blog posts that address unique customer pain points.
5. Lead with customer insights
Customer data can go a long way in driving e-commerce sales during the summer months. The more you understand your shoppers, the better you can anticipate their needs — and you can do this in a few different ways. One option is to outright ask your customers with a quick survey at the end of each transaction. What drove their purchase? What kinds of products are they interested in? You might encourage survey participation by throwing in a free item or coupon code to make it worth their while.
Online business owners can also review overall transaction records and look for trends. Are there certain products or services that seem to be getting the most attention this summer? You might use this information to shape upcoming sales events and general marketing strategies.
6. Leverage summer holidays
The 4th of July is behind us, but there are two major events to look forward to this summer: Labor Day and back-to-school season. They can double as sales events that drive e-commerce sales.
- Tie your inventory to these holidays. If your online business sells candles, for example, you could perhaps market them as an aromatherapy essential for back-to-school studying. The idea is to get creative about how your products relate to these summer events.
- Offer straight-up holiday sales. Even if your products have nothing to do with Labor Day or back-to-school season, you can still offer discounts and promotions that coincide with each season. Themed marketing materials can be used on your website and within your social media and e-newsletters.
7. Up your email marketing game
Email marketing can be another potential sales-booster this summer. The most effective strategies, according to HubSpot research, are:
- Subscriber segmentation
- Message personalization
- Email automation campaigns
During the summer months, your emails can highlight seasonal products, special sales events and other information that’s relevant to your customer base. Consider promoting your newsletter on your homepage and offering a specialty coupon to folks who sign up.
8. Create special summertime inventory
Let the season inspire your product offerings. Whether you’re a service-based business or provide actual products to your customers, what are some ways to put a summer spin on things? You might consider rolling out a summer series of products that are relevant to your customer base, and you could do something similar if you offer more unique services. Let’s say you sell online cooking courses, for example — one idea could be putting together a summer barbecue cooking class. The goal is to use the season to make your offerings special.
9. Throw in free shipping and easy returns
If you’re in a summer slump, consider offering free shipping to encourage e-commerce sales — and be sure to promote that on social media and other marketing channels. Customer convenience is the name of the game, which is why it’s also wise to make returns as easy as possible; the National Retail Federation even notes that 97% of consumers have backed out of a purchase because it was inconvenient to them. But if shipping is free and returns are simple, it could make online shoppers feel more inclined to buy.