Sure, Q4 is peak selling season, but what if you could continue generating profitable sales from your eCommerce business by starting to sell year-round?
Ask most sellers, and they’d say: “Of course, profits are my goal! But you make it sound like it’s so easy to make money selling online year-round.”
The thing is, making money online year-round is easy -- if you run your eCommerce business the right way.
An eCommerce operation that takes advantage of the multitude of selling opportunities in Q1, Q2, and Q3 will have a much bigger bottom line than those who only focus on Q4.
And with the right set of tools to make the job as effortless as possible, smart sellers can essentially put the process of making sales on autopilot -- as long as they source products that sell.
So, why do so many online sellers only jump into the fray for the Q4 holiday rush?
With so many ways to profit throughout the year, we were wondering the same thing.
That’s why we decided to address the ol’ elephant in the eCommerce space and make a case for why seasonal sellers should shift to a year-round strategy.
If you’re not convinced that selling online for twelve months a year is the right move after reading this, shoot me an email at firstname.lastname@example.org and let me know what’s holding you back.
The case for becoming a year-round eCommerce merchant
You want a case for selling online year-round?
Here it is:
You’ll make more money. It’s that simple.
That’s because there are plenty of opportunities for you to find in-demand products that you can sell for profit in the first nine months of the year.
And when you list products that people want to buy at attractive enough prices, sales will inevitably follow.
That’s just Business 101.
The thing is, many sellers don’t even realize the bounty of opportunities that await them in between January and the end of September.
Don’t do that.
Instead, start thinking about the factors that drive demand (and sales) throughout the rest of the year, such as:
- Seasonal changes
When it comes to holidays, don’t just limit yourself to obvious ones like Valentine’s Day and Easter.
Also include “shopping holidays” like Amazon Prime Day in July, fabricated holidays like National Teacher Appreciation Day (which typically falls in early May), and month-long celebrations like Women’s History Month in the U.S. (March). Check out this extensive list of “holidays” for more inspiration.
When thinking about seasonal changes that drive sales, it’s typically related to weather and temperature changes and the products that go along with them.
And when thinking of events that drive sales, consider that certain products that aren’t typically popular become top sellers when it’s a major election year or when the Olympics are taking place.
Make a list of everything you can think of that triggers demand during the months of January through September (we’ll give you plenty of ideas to build your list in this article). Then, start coming up with a separate list of strategic products you can source to meet that demand.
Starting on your path to becoming a year-round eCommerce seller is as simple as that. And with just a little work, you can make your business a much more reliable cash-generating machine.
Opportunities for eCommerce merchants in Q1
The first mistake that seasonal sellers make is thinking that Q4 holiday sales simply stop in January. Because of this false belief, many sellers ramp down their selling after New Year’s and eventually close up shop until the following fall.
These sellers couldn’t be more wrong.
The post-holiday frenzy is part of what makes Q1 such a great time to be actively selling online.
First and foremost, online shoppers are a savvy bunch, and some of them wait until after the holidays to make big purchases because they know that prices drop after Christmas.
On top of that, gift cards make up a massive portion of holiday gifts, with Amazon gift cards being some of the most popular. That means the recipients of these gift cards will be looking to unload their balances after the holidays, typically at the start of the new year.
To further the case for focusing on January (and Q1 in general), many people will be returning gifts they received in Q4 once Q1 rolls around. And with those refunds, they’ll likely purchase different products that could be yours.
That’s because people would much rather come away with a new, better product than simply get their money back.
There are also some specific holidays and events that you can capitalize on in Q1, including:
- The Super Bowl (February 4th in 2018)
- Valentine’s Day (February 14th)
- Chinese New Year (February 18th in 2018)
- St. Patrick’s Day (March 17th)
Consider expanding to Amazon China to drive sales for Chinese New Year, and don’t be afraid to tap into new niches to expand your target market.
Don’t forget about selling winter products in Q1
Another way to pad your profits in Q1 is to focus on the cold weather and all the products that relate to it.
From winter clothing to snowy sports equipment and industrial products made to combat the cold and its byproducts, there are countless items in these categories that will be in demand in Q1 because some shoppers held off these purchases in Q4.
Consider sourcing the items on the following lists when getting ready for Q1:
- Winter clothing
- Coats and jackets
- Insulated vests
- Gloves and mittens
- Knit beanie caps and facemasks
- Boots and winter shoes
- Long underwear and thermals
- Thick socks
- Snowy sports equipment
- Skis and skiing equipment
- Snowboards and equipment
- Snow shoes
- Sleds and sleighs
- Ice skates
- More winter products
- Snow-melting salt
- Snow shovels
- Windshield scrapers
- Tire chains for snow driving
- Space heaters
- Heavy blankets and thick sheets
These lists are by no means extensive, but they should help ignite the inspiration inside you to at least try selling in Q1.
One thing to note is that the seasons fall at opposite times of the year in the southern hemisphere. So, if you have international customers who live south of the equator, you may still be able to sell warm-weather products to this demographic in Q1.
Continuing your eCommerce domination through Q2
Okay, so Q1 has a handful of holidays and events along with residual spending due to gift cards and holiday returns.
But what does Q2 have?
Well, for starters, Easter typically falls right at the beginning of Q2, and in 2018 it falls on the first day of Q2, April 1st.
(Easter is on a different date each year and can also fall in late March, so there’s a tiny chance that it will be part of your Q1 strategy some years. The next time Easter falls in March will be in 2024 when it’s on March 31st.)
Beyond Easter, you can also anticipate more sales around the following Q2 holidays and events:
- Mother’s Day (May 13th in 2018)
- Father’s Day (June 17th in 2018)
- The NBA Finals and the NHL’s Stanley Cup Finals
Mother’s Day and Father’s Day are huge demand-drivers for eCommerce sellers who source the right mix of products for moms and dads. And since moms and dads come in so many styles, you can surely find new categories and niches to expand your product line into.
Pay attention to products that are trending leading up to these holidays and source appropriately. Also, look into previous bestsellers for Mother’s Day and Father’s Day, as some products tend to have similar levels of success year after year.
You should also see which teams are in the NBA and NHL playoffs, and pay close attention to which teams will eventually compete for their respective championships. That’s because apparel and merchandise related to sports teams tends to perform better when teams are playing well.
You’re also better off selling products from all playoff teams, especially those playing in each respective championship series, before the finals even begin so you can capture sales from fans of all the teams playing.
Once league champions are established, fans of the teams that lost may be less inclined to spend money on jerseys, hats, and accessories to support them as they would be during the playoffs and finals.
One more sports-related note for sellers is that the FIFA World Cup will be held in 2018 starting on June 14th and running through July 15th.
Sellers should anticipate a huge increase in demand for soccer-related products in Q2 (and at least throughout Q3) due to this major event that takes place every four years.
How to keep your online sales strong in Q3
If you’re already feeling convinced that you should sell in Q1 and Q2 after reading up to this point, then it’s going to be easy to compel you to sell in Q3.
That’s because Q3 makes the strongest case of any quarter (aside from Q4) that you should be aggressively selling online. Not to mention that selling in Q3 will get you primed for the intensity of the Q4 rush.
Speaking of “getting primed,” Q3 is so important because of one epic event: Amazon Prime Day. This usually takes place in the second week of July, and since its inception, it has broken Amazon’s one-day sales record every year it has run.
The thing is, if you’re going to become a successful year-round seller, then you’re going to have to start thinking and planning like one.
That means you have to start sourcing super early for holidays, seasonal changes, and major events like Prime Day so you have the right products in inventory well in advance.
Reasons for doing this include:
- Making sure you have the right products before your competitors do
- Not having to scramble to build your inventory at the last minute
- Being able to score a bigger supply of popular products than your competitors so you don’t sell out as fast
Preparation is key with year-round selling, so much so that you’re going to want to start sourcing for Q4 while it’s still summertime.
So, while you’re sourcing for Q4 in Q3, what should you be selling to keep your cash flow strong?
Between summer products, the back-to-school rush, Prime Day, and the ramp-up to Q4, the months of July, August, and September present plenty of opportunities to smart sellers.
Check out this in-depth article on summer sourcing strategies for eCommerce sellers for an extensive set of recommendations.
The bottom line: Selling online year-round is all about planning ahead and following trends
By now, I hope you see that selling online shouldn’t just be limited to the Q4 holidays. But, the only way to capitalize on the rest of the year is to have a clear plan for how to drive sales in the “offseason.”
Planning and sourcing the right mix of products in advance of holidays, seasonal changes, and major events is key when it comes to beating the competition and maintaining cash flow year-round.
You must also stay on top of trends so you can source the most popular products in a timely fashion and capitalize on the sky-high demand.
Knowing when holidays fall, even obscure ones, is key. It’s also important to know when big events are taking place, such as professional sports playoffs and championship series.
The best way to become a year-round seller is to start making lists of all the sales-driving holidays, seasonal changes, and events that affect your target markets and then put together a product-sourcing plan to meet the demand that these days drive.
In the end, you’ll have to become a more strategic thinker when it comes to running your eCommerce business year-round.
But by doing so, you’ll start finding new opportunities to build your business more each year, eventually getting to a point where you can hire more workers and invest in strategic automation tools to run your business with less hassle as you scale.
And that’s what it’s all about: Building an online business that can essentially run on autopilot and make you sales in your sleep.
Sourcing the right products is the first piece of the puzzle for selling year-round.
But having the right products is nothing if you don’t sell them at the right prices.
You could try pricing your products manually.
But if your competitors change their prices after you set yours, you’re probably going to want to update your prices in response to maintain your competitive edge.
And with more than just a few product listings, the process of constantly changing your prices when your competitors update their prices gets old and tedious fast.
You’re probably wondering: What’s the alternative?
The answer is
That’s when you use intelligent software to automatically handle the process of constantly changing your prices and keeping them in a competitive yet profitable range.
Outsourcing your price management to an automated repricer is key for driving more sales and getting back your time so you can focus on other profitable initiatives.
Curious to experience the power of automated repricing in your online store?
You can, for free.
Appeagle offers a free 14-day trial
so you can test out our automated repricer risk-free.
Just click the image below to visit our website where you can learn more and sign up for your free 14-day trial: