Building Success in Sale Seasons in e-commerce

Blog, eCommerce

Traditionally, there were sales seasons defined by purchasing occasions which had their roots in festivals, weddings, etc. While these still remain the biggest driver of consumption, marketeers have created many events / marketing properties that drive significant sales for them.

Some of them are still inspired by either consumers – pay day sale around the time consumers get their salary or market driven – end of season sale driven by changes in assortment due to change in weather. Some others are built on celebrating holidays of national importance like the Independence Day Sale or Republic Day Sale.

Besides these, marketeers have built independent sales events to drive high consumption in traditionally periods of low sales. They have enabled this by bringing together  great offers from all the brands and sellers and put their own marketing might behind promoting the event.

 Importance of Sale Seasons in e-commerce

E-commerce has been growing ever since it has been launched. However, platforms such as Amazon, Flipkart, Meesho, Myntra, AJIO, Nykaa and others have invested in creating specific events to attract new users to their platform. With every successive event, the user base and monthly GMV for the platform has increased dramatically.

As a brand / seller, sale seasons are a fantastic opportunity to scale up sales and revenue. Sale seasons can help increase brand awareness as deal browsers come across new brands. The events can also start the customer loyalty cycle. Customers are more likely to return to brands that have delighted them.

Sale events are also good times to clear inventory. A price drop during sales is expected and increased traction can help balance the inventory. Clearance sales are also another medium that pulls new customers.

Consumers are more likely to buy during sale events as they are primed and looking for great deals. The influx of high-buy-intent customers makes sale events critical and worth preparing for. During this period, consumers do impulsive buying resulting in buying things that they don’t need. This results in higher sales rank and traction with customers through reviews.

However, the sale season comes with increased competition and a shift in consumer behaviour as well. Most sellers plan for the sale event and compete to maximise benefit. Hence you must plan the sales season to make the most out of it.

There are many sale seasons and you should plan for each based on the context. Every platform sellout will be different from others based on the type of consumers.

Things like dates of events, proximity to pay day, or even type of credit card discounts can change how the sale event scales up and needs to be planned.

The challenge with short events is the lack of flexibility to move inventory from one platform to another. So you might be sold out in one platform and stuck with inventory in another if you neglect to plan well for the sales events.

Strategizing for e-commerce Sale Seasons

Planning for sales season comes with its own set of questions. To succeed in sales events you need to set specific goals. What you want to achieve from the sale season from each of the platforms. Are you looking to acquire new customers, increase sales by a certain factor, or clear out the inventory?

You should build clear number-based goals by platform. Split the goals by day to track them for every day of sale and course correct. Changing prices in between events and dialling up and down the marketing spend are some of the levers. You should use them to correct and achieve your goals.

You should keep the goals stretched but achievable. Unrealistic goals have a way of becoming unattainable and then you tend to give up on them. You should also keep goals relevant. Even if a brand has one objective, channel strategy might differ – for example. While you might be trying to scale up business in one marketplace where you have a relevant audience while you may use the other platform to clear your inventory.

Planning for a sale event should start early. This should factor in your working capital available, your lead time, and your sales expectations. The earlier you start you can gather resources for working capital and build up the sale on the right platforms.

Budgeting for sale events is one of the most under-leveraged aspects. How much money will be deployed in working capital and how much on marketing are perpetual questions. The budgeting will help determine the scope of activities and resources required.

You also need to plan product-wise sales. Some products pick up during sale events others less so. You need to plan inventory well on high-demand products. Higher scale buying for high-demand products will also bring us bulk discounts which can be passed to customers. Plan the spike based on the discount being passed.

Build your marketing plan to factor in offers that you are rolling out. Building intrigue and buzz on social media will help you get early traction. Email marketing may also be a good method to inform your existing customers of your upcoming sale.

Marketing and Promotion Tactics

Leveraging marketing during sale events can act as a force multiplier. Around the sale event, we can create a media campaign spanning across contests, and giveaways to generate buzz.

People use hashtags to search on social media. So having the right hashtags in our deal posts can also give a boost. Plan for including the most relevant hashtags for the industry and sale event to be in the posts and Ads.

Make engaging content that would encourage people to share. Posts such as photos of upcoming products, unboxing videos, and testimonials from customers work well.

You can also run email marketing campaigns to reach out to the existing customer base and let them know of the deals. Keep the emails personalised using their names, interests, and past purchases. You can also offer incentives for signing up for an email list with new discount offers.

Track the results to identify what’s working and fix the parts that aren’t. You will need to continuously optimize our campaigns to get the most out of them.

Running paid advertising can give a sharp boost to sales. You need to be careful in deploying paid advertisements. Identify which channels our audience likes and where they hang out. Based on this we should build our advertising strategy.

Set clear goals for paid advertising as well as each of the campaigns. Brand awareness, lead generation, or sales scale-up can be motives. Once the objective is certain, assign clear metrics and goals to achieve from the campaign. Then build targeting for ideal customers. This is arrived at with a combination of demographics, location, interest, lookalikes, groups, and hobbies.

Use high-quality compelling visuals in ads. People click more on high-quality images and videos as they capture attention. Build a clear concise Ad copy that talks about the offer and why they should care. Track paid advertising results closely and adjust the budgets based on performance. Double down on well-performing campaigns to maximise the ROAS.

Pricing Strategies for Sale Seasons

The best pricing strategy for an event depends on the type of products, target market, and competition.

You can look at a dynamic pricing strategy where we adjust prices based on demand, supply, competition, and seasonality. This allows us to maximise profits by selling for the highest price based on the situation. Dynamic pricing on the e-commerce marketplace will drive profitability along with scale.

Dynamic pricing helps maximise profit through the discovery of willingness to pay. This also helps manage inventory and price based on available inventory. This can also help compete with other sellers offering low prices during peak demand.

Dynamic prices are difficult to manage as they need multiple iterations. hence automated pricing tools should be used. These can also lead to price wars with competitors.

You can also go with fixed pricing. This is easy to implement and creates a sense of value and trust with the customers. This also has a lower probability of price wars. Fixed prices can lead to lower profits. Also, if competitors use dynamic pricing, it becomes difficult to compete.

Discounts are a great way to attract new customers during sale events. They boost sales and improve ROI. Discounting needs to be done to maximise sales and absolute profits.

Managing Inventory and Logistics

Preparation for the sale event starts from your inventory. Use a demand forecasting tool to predict demand. This will ensure you have enough inventory on hand to meet demand during peak periods.

Set up the warehouse in such a way that it helps pick and pack fast. place the higher-moving inventory items near the packing station and the slower ones farther off. The rack heights can also be as per the speed of movement of products. The fast movers can be on eye level whereas slow ones are on top shelves.

Using an automated order fulfilment system such as OMS will help streamline orders. The orders need to be confirmed and prepared in time. Keeping timelines to process the orders and check will help improve seller ratings.

In case of an unexpected spike, keep a plan ready. The plan needs to have avenues to get labour, a third-party fulfilment company, or use expedited shipping methods. These while costlier than usual routes will protect customer experience and order cancellation.

Keep the customers informed of the order tracking and shipping delays. Managing customer expectations goes a long way in winning their delight. Customers understand that sales season spikes are high. However, they need to be informed in time about the delays, if unavoidable.

Getting orders early can help smooth out the demand spike. Offer incentives or free shipping to encourage customers to pre-order and pre-pay. This will help during peak periods. Track customer feedback closely and see how you can meet their expectations and how our planning and execution can improve.

Returns are a cost of doing business online. You need to have a clear return policy which should be easy to find and understand. The easier it is to return for the customer, the better the conversion. Making it easy to return such as providing free pickup or prepaid return labels could also help in winning customer trust.

Always be responsive to customer inquiries. At max  24-hour TAT for inquiries or even 8-hour TAT helps. Offer multiple support channels such as calls, chatbots, email, and social media. At scale, we can also set a customer support software that can automate a lot of customer support tasks.

Always train customer support to understand products and brands. They will be able to handle customer queries better professionally and efficiently. Use the data from customers to improve customer service and products.

Success in a sales season comes through a well orchestrated strategy built on a strong foundation of planning encompassing the role of the platform, product selection, marketing, pricing and discounts and ruthless execution ensuring delivery of the right products to the customer, on time and in full.

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eCommerce, sales, success

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