With a quick Google search you can quickly conclude that seasonal commerce is not yet a thing, either it might not work or it is still an unexplored opportunity. I started contemplating the subject after a quick chat with @dan_nilsson on twitter. I questioned the lack of a good ‘outdoor-decoration-ecommerce’ in Sweden. The obvious question was: what do they do in the winter?
In Sweden seasons are mostly connected to the season of the year, winter and summer (and yes, spring and fall). Where I’m from it’s a 60C difference between Jan and July. But there are many other seasons as well:
– Christmas season
– School start season
– Easter season
Depending on which field you’re in you probably have seasons were you sell less or more. In Sweden the alp stations close at summer and the flower markets at winter. No questions asked there. However, when it comes to ecommerce we are so focused on availability that we do not only make it 24/7, we also make it 365 days a year. Is that really necessary?
If we take the 80/20 rule, there are probably many ecommerce stores make 80 % of their profit in 20 % of the time (of a year). Ecommerce businesses usually have smaller margins but tend to have their storage in the suburbs to save money. Meaning that even thought it might be difficult to shut down from a cash-flow perspective, they could do it from a location perspective. So why don’t you close your ecommerce site when your products are not needed?
Obviously the question with the actually website comes up: what should we do with that? Here is an idea: if you direct the traffic to other sources that are open and selling, you could keep the site open for visitors, but closed for purchases. Then you would still rank on Google and built reputation as helpful. But you would not have to waste people time with administration of few and sporadic orders. Here you might argue about the customer experience, but as long as I got help finding what I was looking for, that should be good. Thus, I would remember the website and the reaction.
Depending on how long the ‘peak’ season is it might not be ideal to start a seasonal store only, however, with the right product and seasonal length I think it could be possible and lucrative. But if we would apply the concept on existing stores as a way to boost sales in some areas during some seasons I think the opportunities are gigantic.
Jesper made a good point the other day – categories are something that we build to make sense of our content, while visitors and especially Google look at each page on the website as a start page. This is definitely how I use the web, I rarely go to a site and sort my self to the product via categories, no, I Google.
Applying this onto seasonal stores, we could change our traditional concept of ‘an ecommerce store (website) – with a many products in many categories’ and instead see it as an ecommerce store (business) with many sites, one for each category. This might not be the best solution for all stores because you have to do many check-outs. But for any store where most customers (80%) only buy one product, this might be a better solution. Niched sites will immediate reassure the customer that they are in the right place, because they make It obvious, which would increase the transactions amount, compensating from perhaps reducing cross-sell opportunities.
Then seasonal stores could really become a thing, for example; sell electric heaters and blankets in a store on the winter on one site and electric fans and water bottles on the summer on another site.
What do you think? Could seasonal e-stores be a thing and can it be done for an individual business or does it have to be part of something bigger?