6 Summer Promotion Ideas for E-Commerce Sites
Summer is awesome for so many reasons, but online sales revenue isn’t usually one of them. Online shopping tends to slow down in the summertime while people are traveling and enjoying outdoor fun. The good news is it picks back up in the fall as people shop for the winter holidays.
The better news is that you can boost your slow summer sales by running promotions that get your existing customers to check in and bring in some new customers, too.
6 Sizzling Summer Promotion Ideas for Your Online Store
For some fun (sales) in the sun this summer, try out one of these promotion ideas for your e-commerce website.
1. Promote the stuff your customers need this summer.
Your summer merch will move faster if you remind your customers that they need it and offer some limited-time discounts to get them to buy now. Obvious candidates for summer-fun-now deals are outdoor furniture, pool and swim gear, travel items, and grilling equipment.
Don’t sell those items? Brainstorm a bit. Your temporary tattoos are probably perfect for festival-bound teens and young adults this summer. Run a toy store? Highlight the best boredom-busters in your inventory and target parents who need to keep kids busy and happy this summer. Sell pet gear? Fido needs a life jacket if he’s going boating, and portable water bowls are a must for pups going on summer hikes.
2. Invite your customers to take you on vacation.
Summer travels are a natural fit for social media promotions and Facebook contests. You might offer a prize for the customer who travels the farthest or goes to the most unusual destination this summer while wearing a t-shirt or carrying a water bottle from your store—ask them to post their trip photos with your goods. You can also invite your social media followers to vote on the best photos and award prizes based on their picks.
Maybe your customers aren’t big travelers. You can work with the idea of a staycation instead and run a sale on items your customers can use to liven up their backyard, deck, and home for summer fun. Again, you can extend that into a photo contest on social media for prizes from your store.
3. Work the summer holidays for all they’re worth.
Nothing’s going to come close to the spending levels you see around Thanksgiving and Christmas, but sales before Father’s Day, the Fourth of July, and Labor Day Weekend can generate revenue from shoppers looking to pick up gifts or party supplies.
You can also check out National Day Calendar’s website to see what quirky options line up with your store’s merchandise and customers. Maybe you’ll want to run a flash sale on ballet shoes for National Dance Day in July or discount board games throughout August in honor of Family Fun Month. You can always make your own summer holiday sale, like Amazon does with Prime Day. (There’s a reason they put that big day in the middle of summer.)
Give your current customers a heads-up with a promotional email that includes a one- or two-day preview sale before you announce it to the public. Once it’s open to everyone, share it on your social media channels.
4. Flash sales don’t need a holiday.
Got a small batch of cute new sunglasses or artisanal beard wax you want to sell? Flash sales are an ideal way to promote and move limited-quantity items. They’re easy to set up on Facebook or Instagram and they can help you capture new customer email addresses.
To make your flash sale a success, make sure you have reliable real-time inventory tracking in place so you don’t sell more than you have on hand. It’s also a good idea to create special terms for your flash sale, like no returns and no retroactive discounts on previous purchases of the same item, to make sure it’s a profitable promotion. Have your shipping supplies ready to go, because you may be packing a lot of orders in a short amount of time after your sale ends.
5. Pop up in person.
Pop up shops can help you connect with new customers who want to try in person before they buy online. Pop ups can also help you go where your existing customers are during the summer, like festivals, fairs, or vacation destinations.
To do a summertime pop-up event well, carefully plan your location, your mini-store space, and the merchandise you think will sell best. For example, if you’re going to vend at a music festival, you’ll almost certainly sell more earrings, bracelets, and necklaces than you will shoes or clothes that have to be tried on.
Learn more about what goes into setting up a pop up shop, promote it via email and social media, and plan lots of day-of social media posts to encourage nearby people to drop by. You might want to do a giveaway at your pop-up shop to boost traffic, too.
6. Look ahead to the school year.
As a kid, maybe you didn’t like seeing back-to-school sales flyers in late July when you were just trying to enjoy sleeping in and watching Nickelodeon.
Now that you’re an adult with a store to run, you may feel differently—especially if you sell clothes, shoes, or computers. Back-to-school and back-to-college spending reached $83 billion in the US in 2017, with much of that spending taking place in the month before classes begin. Most US schools start in mid to late August, so if you promote your BTS products well, you can end the summer on a high note.
Because most parents are planning their BTS shopping by August, it makes sense to get your deals into their inboxes and onto their social media feeds by, yep, mid-July.
Prevent the E-commerce Summer Slump for Your Online Store
Planning a season’s worth of fun promotions for your online store now can help your store avoid summer doldrums this year and in the future. Save your data from each promotion to see which sales do the best for you, which items are the strongest sellers, and which customers are your best summer shoppers. Then you can go into next summer with an even stronger promotion plan.
Casey Kelly-Barton is an Austin-based freelancer who enjoys writing about business development and marketing, e-commerce payments and fraud prevention, and travel.