They call it Minnesnowta for a reason. It’s cold and snowy in our home state for most of the year. So when it warms up, us Minnesotans get pretty excited. Actually, most of us kind of obsess over the weather. Cold, hot, wet, humid, we’re always chatting about the weather.
It was pretty wet last week. We had a few flash flood warnings in Minneapolis. Although it’s nothing compared to what states like Arkansas and Louisiana saw as tropical storm Barry made its mark. Our hearts go out to those who’ve been impacted by the flooding.
It’s no secret that weather and seasonality can impact and shape the demand for certain products. December in Minnesota? We’re stocking up on shovels and snowblowers. Rainy? Catch us at the register buying umbrellas. It’s obvious that weather has a very clear effect on sales.
But let’s take this beyond brick and mortar.
So far this year, housing starts are down and weather is a major factor. Automobile sales are down for the first half of the year with many experts noting the particularly tough winter as a contributing factor. For many manufactures and distributors, extreme weather conditions can have an impact on sales, especially if the majority of your business is regional or highly reliant on seasonality. The key to avoiding a weather related business slow down is to find ways to increase your reach beyond a limited geographic area and provide a 24/7/365 way for customers to buy, no matter what’s going on outside.
Let me give you two examples I recently heard:
A complete boiler room solutions provider helps organizations ensure that people stay warm and comfortable when temperatures drop. Obviously, winter is their busy season. If a boiler in a hotel, school system or even a hospital goes down, the company has to get their customer up and running again as soon as possible. “Game of Thrones” style winters equate to strong sales for the business. But what happens when the Eastern Seaboard has an unusually warm winter? Maybe other parts of the country are in the middle of Polar Vortex (Hello MN in February )? If your regular geographic range is the Carolina’s to Maine, then you’re in for some tough sales months while your competition based out of Illinois can’t keep up with the order volume.
The solution – eCommerce
With an eCommerce site, customers can self-serve, team members are freed up from order taking or status updates to respond to critical or high value situations, and you dramatically increase the geographic reach of your business. In this case, if a boiler goes down in Alberta, they can easily look up a specific part number on the company’s website, make their purchase, get expedited shipping, and get their boiler back up and running in no time.
A manufacturer of truck boxes, hydraulics and heavy duty towing equipment also has to consider seasonality. Customers have to buy snow plows and pushers to prepare for the winter months. But what about the off season? How can the company ensure they are selling their products year-round?
The solution once again – eCommerce
An eCommerce site enables this company to build a robust online product catalog that helps attract new customers and business partners. Plus, it allows customers to purchase parts and add-ons year round. Changes can be made to marketing strategies to support eCommerce sales as well. The company can increase PPC spend, deliver personalized ads for discounted parts or incorporate weather data into their email strategy.
For many of our customers, seasonality and weather impact their business in a big way. With a robust eCommerce platform in place, there are different ways to address seasonality. Companies can make changes to their catalogs, boost different products and alter their advertisements for different geographies they serve. Or adjust pricing and offers to clear out old inventory and make room for new stock.
Basically, Mother Nature has met her match. With eCommerce incorporated into your business you can seize new opportunities and defeat severe threats where weather is concerned.