Everybody knows that Cyber Monday is one of the biggest online sales days of the year. This day sits at the convergence of a series of trends – it’s holiday season, stores offer low prices and companies release a lot of new products.
But there are a lot of other trends floating around out there, many that retailers disregard completely. With the right research and resources, you can have huge sales days all throughout the year by taking advantage of these trends.
Whatever you sell – fashion, home goods, electronics, health supplements, sporting goods – there are always going to be trends dictated by the weather. The strategy to taking advantage of this is simple: Buy low, sell high. When it’s warm, buy winter goods at a low price and sell them when it gets cold. When it’s cold, vice versa.
How do you find products with seasonal trends? Some of it is common sense, some of it comes with experience and some of it can be gleaned from research.
When it comes to identifying trending products that you don’t sell, you’ll have to search them out. A few basic searches that will definitely yield results are:
– your vertical + “winter”
– your vertical + “winter goods”
– your vertical + “summer”
– your vertical +“summer goods”
– “popular in winter/spring/summer/fall”
As an example, I searched “pet supplies” + “winter goods” and found heated dog beds in several of the results. This seems promising, but I still have to verify that this product does in fact trend. This is done using trend tools.
In Chapter 4 of Shopify’s Definitive Guide to Finding Items To Sell Online, Richard Lazazzera lays out a terrific primer for studying product trends.
Since we’re focused on seasonal and event trends, we’re going to use the first tool Lazazzera mentions – it’s easy to use and probably the most popular out there – Google trends. All you have to do is enter your product into the search bar and a simple graph will show you search trends. Make sure you select “past 12 months” in the time range drop down so you can see performance throughout the year.
It looks like we have a winner. Now that we’ve confirmed that there are fluctuations in demand, let’s check out the price trends for this item. If a product doesn’t offer a wide enough price gap, it may not be worth investing in it.
Ideally, you want to buy when the price is at its absolute lowest. According to this, the best time to buy this brand of heated dog bed would have been right around December 15th when they hit $48.99 – though right now they’re not much more, right around $51.00. This translates roughly to a 40% profit margin. Not too bad.
Know Your Seasons
In addition to winter, spring, summer and fall, you might also want to stay current on the other seasons out there – like sports seasons and hunting seasons (which differ by state). Check out this search trend on the term “baseball bats”. Mid-December could be a great time to stock up on Louisville Sluggers.
Holidays make great retail moments. And there are a lot of them out there. Check out this extensive list of holidays including gems like Houseplant Appreciation Day and National Bikini Day. The names alone let you know what products you should look into.
Several of these hidden holidays are directly linked to retail. Engadget’s Guide To Geek Holidays recognizes Macintosh Day and Dungeons & Dragons Day (as well as National Talk Like Yoda Day – celebrate I will). This dweeb calendar is a treasure trove for electronics retailers and comic book curators alike.
If you search (your vertical) + “holiday” or “national (your vertical) day”, you’ll be surprised at the number of results you get.
Sticking with the theme of pet supplies, a “pet” + “holiday” search reveals that January 14th is National Dress Up Your Pet Day. A friend and online retailer noticed this trend last year. With a simple bit of promotion and the addition of some new pet-related inventory, her store saw a 37% increase YoY for the weeks preceding National Dress Your Pet Day.
Getting The Inventory
Typically you can buy items from online marketplaces like Amazon and eBay. That said, there’s often a better way to obtain higher quantities of inventory at a lower price.
Wholesalers & Drop Shipping
All you need to do is find out which wholesaler provides the item(s) you’re looking for. Search the item + “wholesaler” and most of the time that’ll do the trick. Be sure to include details like the item number or SKU if you have it. If you still have trouble locating the info you need, check out wholesale directories like Wholesale Central that break wholesalers down by category.
If storage is an issue, you can also look into drop shipping. Drop shippers will hold inventory at their warehouse and ship directly to your customers upon their orders. If you’re willing to put up most or all of the wholesale price, they’ll be more likely to reserve the inventory for you. If you want to look into specific drop shippers, check out this drop shipping list that breaks suppliers down by category.
You’ve got the right product at the right time – now you’ve got to get the word out. Seasons and events offer some very distinct opportunities for marketing. All of these events are celebrated online so make sure you build awareness via social. There’s nothing wrong with spreading the word about a new holiday via posts, pics and tweets.
Once people are informed, you can let them know you have the perfect products to celebrate.
Tim Calpin is Chief Marketing Officer of ChannelApe