Summers are typically a slower time for retail, but instead of scrambling trying to figure out how to bring in more revenue, what if you took this time to enjoy your life + work ON your business. You know, all that high-level CEO stuff we don’t always get to do because we’re too busy with the day-to-day.
In this week’s episode we’re talking about how you can use this time to your advantage and set yourself and your team up for success for the rest of the year.
What You’ll Learn
- Why the slow seasons of your business are actually a good thing
- How you can use the slow season to set yourself up for your busy season
- Ideas for what you might want to work on and how to prioritize it
Read the Full Episode Transcript
If you’re reading this in real time, it’s June 2021, which means it’s likely your business is going to slow down in the next month or so. Now, of course, this isn’t true for every retail business, but often summers are typically a slower time in retail because people are enjoying time with their families and traveling, etc.
And because we’ve all been locked down for the last year, I imagine most people are itching to get out and explore.
Of course, if you sell swimwear or other summer related items this might actually be your peak time for business, but everything we’re going to talk about today will still be relevant for you during your slow time.
What I typically see happen during these slow periods is that entrepreneurs scramble trying to think of ways to drum up more revenue. While that’s not necessarily a bad thing, what if you took this slow time and used it to your advantage?
This is especially true if you’re a one-woman show or your team is on the smaller side.
Most entrepreneurs spend more time working IN the business, instead of stepping into our CEO role to work ON the business. And your slow seasons are the perfect time to do this.
This summer, instead of stressing out about your sales, what if you took the time to enjoy your life and work ON your business? You know the stuff: vision planning, getting systems in place, auditing existing systems, auditing your sales results, etc. Plus, if you work on this stuff NOW you’ll be in a much better position come Q3 and Q4 when retail generally picks back up.
First up, revisit episode 53 of the podcast where I cover 15 ways to spring clean your business. That episode is packed with actionable things you can do right now and it’s a great place to get started with things like auditing your email automations, revisiting your ideal customer, assessing your team and even cleaning out your inbox.
Today I wanted to talk a bit more about some high-level things you can work on.
Audit your policy and customer service pages
Make sure these are still up to date. Often we change policies but forget to update these pages and they live on with outdated information that leads to confusion for our customers.
You will also want to look at your recent customer service requests and see if you can make the information on your website clearer to limit those inquiries. Maybe you need to add some more information into your post-purchase emails, your product descriptions, or those customer service pages.
Maybe it’s time for you to add a chatbot to your site that can answer your most common questions so the customer doesn’t have to wait until your customer service team replies to their email inquiry.
Do your best to decrease your customer service inquiries overall. In fact, consider this just as important a metric as your conversion rate. The more you can decrease the customer’s need to inquire, the more likely they are to convert, the faster they’re likely to convert, and the more efficient your customer service team can be ultimately saving you time and money.
Review your shipping costs
Shipping is often one of the biggest expenses for an eCommerce business. When was the last time you did a little analysis here? Now that we’re living in the Amazon age of eCommerce, it’s unlikely you’ll make money on shipping, but if you can at least break even you’d totally be winning.
If you’re currently spending a lot more on shipping than you’re bringing in, maybe you have to adjust your rates, look for better deals, adjust your packaging or raise your free shipping threshold.
You want your free shipping threshold to be a few dollars more than your current average order value. If it’s not, that’s a great place to start. It’s possible you’re giving too much away in free shipping.
Are you getting the best rates possible on your shipping?
At a minimum, you’ll want to use Shopify shipping vs. paying regular retail rates at the post office, UPS, or FedEx. When you ship right through Shopify you’ll get discounted bulk rates. The higher the plan you’re on, the higher the discounts you get.
If you’re a high-volume seller, it might be worth it to get your own shipping accounts & negotiate your own rates directly with the carriers. Quick tip here: the fewer size boxes you use usually the better deals you can get from the carrier.
If you’re not already using a shipping software like Shipstation, now is a good time to start looking at one. Not only will it make your fulfillment process way easier, but you’ll also be able to take advantage of bulk discounts that get passed onto you.
And if you’re a subscription box definitely check out pirate ship.
Use the slow period to work on big projects
The summer is also a great time to get any big projects done that have been sitting on the back burner. Not that you should necessarily be the one doing the work, but big projects have a way of interfering with the day-to-day of your business, so your slow periods are the perfect time to do them. If you don’t have a team to handle the work, it’s likely worth it for you to outsource that to someone else.
Maybe you need to reorganize your warehouse, overhaul your email automation, get your documents organized or finally create that affiliate program you’ve been wanting to put in place. Whatever those big projects are that you’ve been putting off because you know it’s going to take so much time, energy and effort.
Don’t be afraid to outsource this. For example, I’m working with a client right now who already has all of her email automations, but she hasn’t updated them in years and their performance is starting to slip. She’s also updating her website and doing a brand refresh, so now is the perfect time to overhaul those automations (and she’s hiring me to do it!)
Start planning for Q4
Yep, I said it. In the eCommerce Badassery Megamind we’re spending June and July planning and getting ready for Q4. Nope, it isn’t too early. In fact, it’s never too early!
At a minimum, start looking back at your results from last year and figuring out what worked and what didn’t so you can do even better this year.
Listen to episode 11, What is a Campaign Recap + Why You Need One which will walk you through the process I use for this.
You don’t necessarily have to get everything done right now, but if you at least map out your plan and give yourself some deadlines, you’ll be in a much better position when we start rolling into our busy times.
Start learning about and implementing ads
Another thing you can start doing this summer is ads. If you haven’t been doing ads yet, but you’ve been wanting to, I’d rather see you do them now vs. trying to learn them when your business is at its peak.
Take a course, invest in an expert, start testing things. Don’t wait until the holidays to start doing ads. You’re going to have so many other things going on and you won’t be able to give it the dedication and attention it deserves.
Learn some new skills that will propel your business forward
Speaking of courses and investing in an expert, if there is anything else you’ve been struggling with in your business, whether it’s just overall eCommerce strategy, something specific like social media or email marketing, or even if you’ve been thinking about adding wholesale to your business, use this time to learn and hone those skills. Hell, it may even be re-listening to the eCommerce Badassery podcast.
You know, those episodes you listened on 2x speed and never really absorbed or took action on.
The same goes for your team as well. Now is a great time to invest in their education and give them the tools to do their jobs better.
When it comes to overall eCommerce strategy, SEO, or email marketing, I’m obviously your girl. Click here to schedule a discovery call and figure out how I can support you.
If you need support in other areas but aren’t sure where to go for that, DM me on Instagram and I’ll introduce you to some kick-ass people I know who can support you.
Find partners and potential collaborators
Collaboration is one of my favorite ways to grow a business because getting in front of other people’s audiences will help you grow so much faster than just building your own.
Finding the right collaborators takes time, so use this downtime to research complementary businesses, brainstorming ideas for how you can work together and getting all your ducks in a row so when you pitch these partners, they’re excited to work with you. Businesses want to partner with businesses that are at a similar stage in business. Make sure you have your branding on lock, you’re consistent on social media and that you have something to offer.
Start creating a relationship with them now on social media so you’re not just popping up in their inbox with a cold pitch. Warm them up to you and your brand so that by the time you pitch them to partner up, they’re already bought into you and your business.
Still not sure what to focus on?
And if after all of this, you’re still not sure where you should focus right now, listen to podcast episode 41 Setting and Accomplishing Goals Like a Badass.
In this episode I talk about mapping out your year and defining those big picture goals and what you want to focus on in your business at any given time. This will help you prioritize that to-do list and better allocate your resources.
Look, I know it’s difficult to just sit back and watch those sales continue to slow down. But you can’t run at full speed in your business all the time… that will inevitably lead to burnout. And sometimes you have to take a step back so that you can propel forward… just like a slingshot. Use this time to stabilize and cement the foundations in your business so you can hit the ground running for the rest of the year.