For online retailer, Blossom Costumes, October is when business peaks. Halloween is the key driver of this surge in demand, with 2982 sales made from almost 60,000 unique visitors to the Blossom Costumes site in 2015.
When considering the effects of seasonality, retailers, like Blossom, can review their warehousing, staffing, marketing and digital assets. Streamlining these facets of business improves efficiency and sets up a retailer for growth.
- Warehousing: Ideally, a business’s warehousing infrastructure should be able to deal with times of peak demand. But in some cases, this is not possible, especially if additional space comes at a high cost. See if there are flexible options to increase warehousing needs during times of peak demand, such as short-term leases for more storage. Alternatively, reduce warehousing requirements by negotiating flexibility and fast delivery with suppliers.
- Staffing: Temporary contracts are a common way to deal with seasonal fluctuations in staffing requirements. But it may be worth looking into technological investments as an alternative to labour. An investment could be a website upgrade that automates orders and reduces the number of staff required for processing and sales. Investing in equipment or technology not only reduces peak staffing requirements, but may reduce regular labour demands as well.
- Marketing: Marketing and planning efforts should start well before the period of peak demand. A business should approach their marketing budget according to the relative importance of a seasonal period. For example, if 70 per cent of a business’s revenue comes from just three months of the year, then the bulk of a marketing budget should be directed at maximising customer engagement and retention during these three months.
- Digital assets: The performance of online assets is critical during peak demand. This is obvious for an online retailer – a slow website will reduce inbound traffic and sales – but the management of digital assets is important for offline businesses, too.
For example, take a retail business that forgets to post their holiday closing times on their website or social media accounts. This runs the risk of alienating a potential customer, missing a sale and frustrating a potential customer.
How Blossom Costumes approaches seasonality
For Blossom Costumes, ignoring Halloween is not an option. The retailer prepares for this surge in demand by adding additional inventory, reconfiguring warehouse space and increasing labour resources to keep up with sales.
Marketing efforts and digital assets are also prepared throughout the year to make the most of the peak demand. A website upgrade, for example, saw a 338.5 per cent increase in October transactions between 2014 and 2015.
Although seasonality can be difficult to manage, it remains predictable. Working throughout the year in the areas of warehousing, staffing, marketing and digital investments can ensure that a retailer makes the most of a seasonal surge in sales.