During my first summer selling on Amazon, I was absolutely beside myself.
What seemed like an overnight “flip of the switch” – my sales TANKED.
For several months I was averaging 15-20 sales per day on just my one product at the time – sometimes more.
And then, all of a sudden, 3 sales… 1 sale… even 3 days or more with no sales at all.
I frantically started changing my titles, images, bullets, description.
I increased my PPC bids on sponsored advertising.
I ran a gazillion Facebook ads.
I did everything I could to increase traffic and exposure to my listings.
And still, nothing.
Then I went to a few Facebook Amazon seller communities at the time and asked around. Turned out everyone else was experiencing a similar plight.
Fortunately, a seasoned veteran chimed in:
“It’s called the summertime slump. Hardly anyone shops online during the summer months, unless you’re looking for swimsuits and camping gear!”
For those in the Northern Hemisphere, the weather is at its best, and people are outdoors more often than indoors.
Sales naturally decline during this time of year simply because people are not focused on shopping. They are more likely to be on vacation, traveling, or away from technology more often.
As a new seller experiencing their first summer season, this was reassuring news, but also, quite disheartening.
If it’s like this EVERY summer selling online, then it really is “feast or famine” selling on Amazon!
This reality was one I wasn’t personally willing to accept, because I wanted this to be a year-round source of business revenue.
Having big gaps in revenue limits your cash flow, and limits your ability to remain adaptive and flexible.
After experiencing my first summertime slump, I decided that it would be critical to my businesses growth that I develop and implement a plan for continuing momentum during the 3-4 slower months.
Owning a business is not a static activity. There is always something in your business you can be doing to help build, improve, and scale it.
Here are five things you can start implementing to help improve your sales and keep your business growth optimal during the slow time of the selling season:
1. Evaluate your current strengths, weaknesses, opportunities, and threats for your brand (conduct a SWOT analysis).
Use this time to reflect and evaluate your current position in the marketplace.
Developing a cohesive strategy for improving your brand’s visibility and competitiveness in the marketplace can help identify gaps in your business that may be hurting your sales overall and also help pinpoint opportunities for growth within your market.
Shopify has a great tutorial and downloadable SWOT Template here. You can also watch this video to see an example of a SWOT analysis, using the popular US-based coffee brand Starbucks as an example:
2. Run the numbers on all of your products. Are there products that are not selling fast enough and are sitting at FBA warehouses collecting costly storage fees?
Check your inventory performance index scores for all active products. Are you in the “Green” for all these? Remember that Amazon can and does penalize sellers when their seller performance metrics do not meet certain standards, such as having high order defect rates, inventory stock levels, and excessive inventory.
Additionally, check your sell-through rates. Identify products where you’re receiving low traffic consistently (accounting for seasonality) and evaluate why that is the case. Is it because you’re not doing any promotions/advertising? Or is it a low-demand product?
3. Summertime is the time to be placing your orders for Quarter 4. If you plan on selling your products during quarter 4 (and you should because that’s when everyone is on Amazon making purchases!) then you should be spending part of your time this summer placing orders with your suppliers and arranging for production of inventory, so that it can arrive at the Amazon fulfillment centers in plenty of time before the holiday season approaches.
Use Amazon’s holiday and events planning calendar to get an idea as to when to plan for “sales surges” during the year.
A good rule of thumb is to have your inventory for Quarter 4 in no later than October 1st to ensure you are in stock for the full duration of the peak selling season.
4. Use this time to research products that you can sell year-round, or are summer-specific.
If you’re struggling to sell your products this time of year, now is a good time to research more products to add to your mix, and make up for lost revenue.
When researching products, focus on overall profitability first (I personally look for products that will give me a 3x-5x net profit, accounting for all landed costs, fees, advertising costs, and other operational expenses tied into getting a product to Amazon FBA and live in the marketplace).
Look for products that would be bought year-round – not just during the holiday season. For example, personal care, grocery items, and pet supplies would all be things people buy no matter the time of year.
And, if you have a brand that is not niche-specific and will accommodate a variety of products from different categories, then consider sourcing products that are in niches that are popular during the summer months such as sports, outdoors, automotive, and travel.
5. Now is a good time to learn new business skills, improve your marketing knowledge, and build exposure for your brand and products
As mentioned before, business is dynamic and if you are not an active participant, eventually, your business will stagnate, plateau, and then die.
During these slow times, you can help your business grow by actively seeking new information on how to improve your sales, creating new content for your brand’s website blog, developing new product videos, and increasing your marketing channels.
And, now is also the perfect time to build your own circle of influence by establishing strategic alliances with other sellers, joining a private mastermind, reading books on marketing, and building customer relationships.
Whether you implement one or all five of these strategies, remember that ultimately, you are in control of the growth of your business.
If you rely completely upon one marketplace like Amazon to determine the outcome of your success, you are leaving a lot of potential profit and growth on the table.
Stay agile, and remain tenaciously dedicated to your business, 365 days per year.