Top tips for a successful e-commerce summer sale

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While not as well-known as cult moments in the sales calendar such as Black Friday or Boxing Day, the summer sales period presents a fantastic opportunity for retailers to not only drive customer volume over the summer months, but also prepare for the calendar moments coming later in the year. 

Unlike Black Friday and Boxing Day, the summer sale is far more flexible in terms of its launch date. Businesses can choose to go earlier or go later and there are a variety of benefits and drawbacks to both strategies. 

Timing The Sale – Going Early

Pros:

  • Get ahead of the competition

This is particularly worthwhile if your brand is selling a type of product that customers would generally only need a small number of. If repeat purchases are uncommon, discounting your items early would enable retailers to get ahead of the competition. 

  • Flexibility to move into further reductions

On the chance that your sale would get off to a slow start, there is plenty of time to increase demand via a more enticing discount. When you first start your sale and your business is not selling as hoped your Google Analytics data can provide invaluable insight on how to optimise your campaign. If certain products are attracting a lot of traffic but it is not converting into sales, it may indicate you should consider further reductions. 

Cons:

  • Less time to sell full price

This is a pretty obvious one! The earlier you go into sale, the less time your summer products have to sell at full price. 

  • Brand Reputation / User Behaviour

Customers (particularly loyal ones) are sale-savvy, so if you go into sale early (and then into further reductions) they will remember this and it will become ingrained into their purchase behaviour – Which in turn can quickly lead to your brand becoming very sale-reliant in future years.

Timing The Sale – Going Later

Pros: 

  • Build up summer product and range of visitor audiences

Entering the summer sale later, your business can focus on building up a wider range of summer products which will broaden the type of audiences visiting your website. This volume could be critical if margins are squeezed. 

  • Growing your audiences

Preparation is arguably the most important element of any campaign. Leading up to your sale, going later enables you to grow your remarketing lists and then serve your Ads during this period to a larger yet highly targeted audience. It also gives your brand more time to build up ‘hype’ about the sale with people wanting to stay informed on when it is happening.

  • You can target around payday rather than beginning of a month

Instead of starting the sale at the beginning of the month, you can target around a common payday to optimise on when people are most likely to spend money on items that could potentially be deemed as unnecessary – an area of increasing concern due to the ongoing cost-of-living crisis.

  • Establish the competitive landscape

Information is power. By going later, you can keep an eye on the level of discounting offered by your competitors, and plan accordingly. 

Cons: 

  • Risk of missing the sale window

Entering the sale later can be a risk as potential customers could end up going to your competitors who entered the sale earlier on instead. Monitoring your competitors channels in real-time can provide useful insight that can inform your sale timings. 

  • Size availability

Whilst selling through stock is good for revenue, if popular sizes sell-out before the sale, select customers could become alienated by lack of availability and potentially lose interest in other items due to frustration or not having access to their preferred products.

  • Less flexibility to extend or go into further reduction

A late launch will compress the window for a ‘summer sale’. If performance isn’t up to expectations, there is a smaller window of time to extend the sale or go into further reduction as it will be going into Autumn/Winter seasons. 

  • Potential clash with Autumn/Winter launch

Depending on the customer overlap between sale and launch of Autumn/Winter new products, there is a risk of mixed or reduced messaging. You can however run the sale in the background and focus your homepage and ad copy on newness, but there is still that danger of overlap that could confuse or create a mix in audience. 

How to decide whether to go early or later?

Overall, keeping your powder dry as a brand and going later will be the optimal strategy for most retailers. The benefits of growing your audiences and getting a firmer grip on the competitive landscape will outweigh the pricing flexibility offered by going early for many businesses. The caveat to this is if your year could do with a boost. If this is the case, going early may be a wiser strategy as it allows you to jump ahead of the competition as well as driving further discounts in order to capture audience volume albeit with smaller margins. 

Whichever option your business decides, preparation is the key to both. While getting involved in the sales may require your brand to initially sacrifice on profit margins, it does create an opportunity to increase customer base which will, in turn, drive revenue in the longer term.

If you would like to discuss more about this article, or to learn more about how we can help strengthen your brand story and strengthen your summer sales’ strategy, contact us today.