Multichannel, Market and Machine: How to beat the post peak seasonal lull
February 7, 2023
Q1, the start of a new year. Following the first month of resolutions, the 31 days of going dry or exploring a vegan palate… it’s now time to get back to some form of normality.
Yet, consumers have spent the last three months of the previous year frantically shopping for family, friends and themselves; leaning on ecommerce retailers for many of their purchases.
Christmas has traditionally been the isolated cause for such behaviour, but increasingly Black Friday, a US import, has brought its own share of transactions to the table, with UK consumers spending an estimated £8.2bn in 2022.
Once the festivities and flash sales are over though, purses tighten.
Your customers’ capital goes towards designer and luxury items in retail sales, gym memberships and organic health foods.
For many ecommerce retailers, this poses a problem.
They have ordered stock for the seasonal period, but have failed to accurately predict demand, leaving them with excess stock.
In the best case scenario, this can be a mere annoyance for businesses tight on warehouse space, but in the worst case it can bankrupt ecommerce businesses who rely on cash and product flow.
Despite these potentially catastrophic results, the right approach to a multichannel proposition, the ability to act with marketing dynamism and the adoption of the right digital tools, are all an ecommerce business needs to do to diminish the threats associated with excess stock and low demand.
So, let’s take a closer look at how your business can beat the Q4 demand dip…
Make the most of a multichannel experience
As an ecommerce business, it can be a daunting task to offload excess stock following a busy seasonal period. But implementing the right, carefully thought through multichannel selling strategy can be a highly effective solution to the problems many face.
Going multichannel refers to businesses embracing two or more distribution channels. Your customers will be able to find the stock they want on Amazon, Instagram, a webshop or anywhere else you’re listed. The goal here is to accommodate all of your customers, regardless of how they like to shop.
How exactly does selling on multichannel reduce the issues excess stock poses for retailers?
With a wide variety of channels at your disposal, a multichannel offering allows your product and brand to get in front of more customers and a more diverse audience.
Each channel has its own customer base, and by expanding to new channels, you’ll be able to reach customers who may not have found your products otherwise.
Let’s take two marketplace examples, Amazon and Ebay.
Amazon is known for being more of a mainstream platform, with a wide range of products from well-known brands. Its customers are typically on the hunt for a quick and convenient shop, are loyal, repeat buyers and are more likely to trust the brand and the platform.
On the other hand, Ebay is known for being a more niche and diverse platform, with a wide range of products from both well-known brands and small, independent sellers. Ebay customers are typically looking for a bargain and are willing to spend more time searching for deals. They are also more likely to be looking for unique or hard-to-find items.
In terms of demographics, Amazon tends to attract a slightly older and higher-income customer base, while Ebay’s customer base tends to be younger and more diverse.
It’s worth noting that these are generalisations and that there will always be overlap between the two platforms’ customers.
However, understanding the differences in customer base can help ecommerce businesses sell on the right platforms at the right time and get in front of the audiences most likely to buy in January, February and March.
Selling on a variety of platforms will also allow you to sell on the platforms that suit an excess of stock. Ebay is a great platform for getting rid of excess SKUs, and this should be an important platform for those struggling to move stock on their traditional marketplaces during slower months. This platform allows users to sell multiple bundles of products, mismatched units or create urgency and sell at pace with auction listings.
Remarket and reposition
Your approach to marketing products in summer is, quite likely, far different to that when marketing and positioning your brand and products in the seasonal period.
Neglecting a post seasonal change in marketing and advertising is one of the biggest mistakes retailers can make when attempting to avoid the issue of excess stock.
Brands should use this quiet time to retarget and remarket.
Remarketing is the process of targeting previous customers or website visitors with personalised ads and offers in order to encourage them to make a purchase.
This strategy can be particularly effective for ecommerce businesses looking to clear out excess stock after a seasonal lull.
You can offer a discount or promotion to customers who have previously purchased from your business, or you can show different ads to customers based on their browsing history on your website. This can increase the chances of a customer making a purchase and also increase customer loyalty.
One way to remarket is by using retargeting ads on social media platforms like Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, and LinkedIn. These platforms allow you to create custom audiences based on website visitors, email lists, and purchase history. You can also use Google AdWords and Google Analytics to create custom audiences and track the performance of your remarketing campaigns.
Another option is email marketing. You can use email marketing software to segment your email list based on customer behaviour, such as previous purchases and website activity and then send targeted emails to those segments, making for a much more personalised and effective experience for your leads.
If recent costs in advertising make remarketing untenable, the January period is still a good time to reset organic marketing efforts.
Simple changes, such as altering the product placement on your DTC, taking new photos for your marketplace listings and adopting new and effective keywords in your meta descriptions are quick wins you can use to pull in potential new customers for almost no cost.
“Get it right the first time of asking”
We say this with tongue in cheek, slightly.
But, really, if you are dynamic rather than reactive to seasonal lulls in demand, you’ll avoid excess stock issues altogether.
Utilising the right technology, like inventory management and sales forecasting software in the lead up to the festive season should enable you to predict demand.
Inventory management software can help businesses track their stock levels in real-time, allowing them to quickly identify when they are running low on a particular product and give general oversight on the quantity of products.
Inventory management software can also set automatic reorder points, which will trigger an alert when stock levels reach a certain number, indicating that it’s time to reorder products.
This can help businesses avoid stockouts and reduce the chances of having excess stock after reordering items frantically.
Sales forecasting software can assist businesses with predicting future sales trends based on historical data and other factors.
This can help businesses plan their inventory levels more accurately, reducing the chances of overstocking during a seasonal period and having excess stock afterwards.
Saying goodbye to Blue Monday
When it comes to excess stock, the problems many face are sometimes inevitable.
Even adoption of the best technology can leave you with more stock than is necessary in January, February and March.
But with a sensible multichannel approach, the ability to remarket and reposition your product and the adoption of powerful technology, excess stock and low demand can be avoided in Q4.