Five tips to help your ecommerce business beat the January slump

Leeann Nash November 30th 2022 - 3 minute read

Historically, January is always a tough month. The build-up and the excitement of Christmas has gone, the winter days are still long and dark, and business enters its quietest phase of the year as everyone’s wallets have been drained and belts have been tightened.

January sales have usually been the saviour in the quietest period in the calendar. But this year, things could be different.

After a turbulent two years, where businesses have been rocked by Covid, the ensuing chaos of staff shortages, supply chain issues, and budget cuts, January is set to be even trickier in 2023. With consumers more tentative than usual as the cost-of-living squeeze continues to keep the purse strings tight, businesses are going to have to be creative to beat the January slump in 2023.

Embrace New Year’s resolutions

Just because many New Year’s resolutions are focused on spending less, doesn’t mean you can’t lean into other resolutions from a business point of view. Whether it’s targeted at customers looking to relax more, learn a new language or give up a bad habit, consumers will be more attentive to campaigns that look to support them during the New Year.

Initiatives such as Dry January, or Veganuary, can prove pivotal in finding business opportunity in the New Year. If your online business can lean into popular trends, market accordingly and capitalise on expanding your reach in the traditionally slow January.

Shifting old stock

No matter your industry, moving old stock should always be a priority. Those items that failed to shift through the holiday season could attract some attention if offered up at cut-rate prices.

Enticing sales through the lean post-Christmas period is a tough sell, but with excess stock, it becomes the perfect opportunity to shift stagnant product. January clearance sales benefit both the cash-strapped customer and your online business.

Another tried and tested move is upselling. By maximising the slim purchasing opportunities you’ll have in January, capitalise by offering bigger discounts if customers are purchasing multiple items. Targeted marketing could take advantage of personalised recommendations, through optimising mailing lists and purchasing history.

Finding the positives in returns

Returns are another unfortunate flipside to the hectic and usually prosperous festive period, and of course hit when you least want it.

But use this opportunity to offer an alternative solution to a refund. If a customer wants to return an item, offer them store credit of a greater value to turn a potential return into a guaranteed future sale. If a broken or faulty product is returned, offer a replacement to be sent out as quick as possible as an alternative to a full refund.

On top of everything, ensure your business has a strong and lenient holiday return policy heading into the festive period. A more forgiving and flexible approach will build loyalty and good relationships with your customers. A US survey revealed 96% of consumers would shop again with a retailer if they experienced a good returns policy and process. With the flurry and busy nature of holiday shopping, giving your customer the peace of mind is crucial. Ensure a transparent and inexpensive return policy and make the entire shopping process as stress-free as possible.

Customer engagement

Just because January is traditionally a slow month, where customers may not be in the mood for spending, but that doesn’t mean you should ignore them. Make the most of the down time and ramp up your marketing and social engagement. Keeping existing customers and attracting new ones should be of paramount importance.

With Christmas over, and the accompanying spending sprees too, it means consumers have more time to relax and actually enjoy their own gifts. January makes the perfect time to switch your attention to social media and marketing. A newsletter, or calls for product reviews, are perfect tactics to build relationships and some much-needed feedback.

Personalised product recommendations and targeted marketing make for great traffic-drivers to your online business and a perfect chance to reassess your business for the year going forward.

Reward loyal customers

Keeping return customers are a lot more cost-effective for your online business than attracting new ones. So now is the time to reward them, and ensure they remain loyal customers through the year. Offering special discounts or a free add-on for purchases in January could inspire a sale that otherwise wouldn’t have occurred.

If you have new products upcoming, now is a great time to provide early access for those loyal customers. Other incentives could push for those valuable sales include free shipping, or even just a simple thank you message for their business.

January is a great time to pause and reflect on how your business has performed over the past year. Use the quiet period to plan and budget for the months so you can make 2023 even more successful!  

Written by
Leeann Nash

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