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How retailers can prepare for summer e-commerce activity – now

summer concept
It's never too early to prepare for summer e-commerce activity.

Summer’s almost here and the time is right for getting your seasonal efforts set up ahead of time.

It’s hard to believe, but Memorial Day weekend, the unofficial kickoff to summer, is mere days away. And e-commerce retailers need to be ready for what is becoming an increasingly busy and important time of year for their business.

Sales are always in season

The traditional guidelines for what constitutes a seasonal summer sale have fallen by the wayside, especially online where retailers don’t have to worry about the potential impact on in-store layout and merchandising. Amazon kicked off its Summer Beauty Haul on Monday, May 13, two weeks before the early Memorial Day summer holiday. 

And an increasing variety of seasonal promotions are now occurring during the summer months. For example, a 2023 KPMG survey indicated more than six in 10 consumers begin their back-to-school shopping efforts earlier than the traditional Aug. 1 start date (more on that in a moment), a trend that has been growing rapidly year-over-year and in all likelihood will continue to do so.

And Home Depot has already run an online-only Halloween promotion, getting an early jump on what is increasingly becoming a major consumer spending event. Other retailers will likely follow suit with their own warm weather online Halloween sales. 

Of course, the granddaddy of all seasonal online summer sales events is coming up…

Get primed for Prime Day

Once again Amazon is hosting its annual Prime Day extravaganza, which basically kicked off the trend of seasonal online sales blockbusters, in July. The focus of Prime Day has shifted a bit in recent years, from being a general mid-summer clearance to an early back-to-school event to marking the unofficial start of the holiday shopping season.

Whatever merchandise you’re promoting, you need to offer some type of competition with Prime Day. The opportunity to pick up some of the influx of deal-hungry online shoppers during Prime Day is too great, as is the risk of getting completely overshadowed by the 100-plus online retailers that now routinely run some type of special sale during the Prime Day period.

A successful counter-Prime Day promotion should include early access deals, as well as gamification elements to help stand out in a sea of a deep discounts and extension of e-commerce activity across as many channels as possible – such as virtual pop-ups, QR codes, streaming platforms and metaverse environments.

Disappearing downtime

Between Prime Day turning once-sleepy July into a vital month on the e-commerce calendar and holiday promotions starting Labor Day weekend or earlier, the summer downtime period has become compressed for online retailers. 

There may only be a few weeks in August where operations are slower than normal and technical personnel have some extra time in their schedule. So online retailers can’t waste any time in carefully evaluating their enterprises to see where the most glaring shortcomings are, what personnel will be available during the brief summer slow time, and make a plan to optimize as much as possible before the hazy, lazy days are over.

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