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Retailers must plan for 2012 seasonal peaks now

Retailers must plan for 2012 seasonal peaks now
Monday March 26 2012

With the sheer volume of seasonal peaks throughout the year, there are numerous opportunities for retailers to up-sell seasonal goods online, but they need to be sure that they are properly prepared and have planned effectively, according to a new report.

The 2012 Seasonality Guide from eSellerPro urges retailers to begin planning for the next 12 months’ seasonal peaks at the start of the year, reviewing the previous 12 months and planning based on this.

With so many seasonal peaks, including the Diamond Jubilee and the London Olympics in 2012, it’s important for retailers of all sizes to take advantage by ensuring that there is a cycle of targeted planning and activity throughout the year. With Valentine’s Day, the first major seasonal peak following the January sales, already passed, retailers can’t relax as this is swiftly followed by Mother’s Day and then Easter, and retailers need to be gearing up for the summer before Easter is over.

Focusing on the early part of 2012, the 2012 Seasonality Guide identifies some key tactics that retailers should be looking at to help them ensure that they have as profitable a year as possible. These include:

• Reviewing the previous year
By evaluating this information, it puts retailers in a good position to plan effectively for the year ahead, understanding what seasonal peaks they can really make the most of based on last year’s success.

• Do a SWOT report
By having this process in place, retailers can plan around areas where they know sales are likely to increase or even slow down.

• Plan initially for trends and inventory from early in the year to the beginning of July
These plans can include upcoming events in this timeframe, outlining when a retailer would need availability of inventory ahead of it as well knowing what promotional and marketing materials are needed

• Break this down in to quarterly plans
By breaking plans down into quarterly sections, it is easier for retailers to manage the seasonal peaks and related challenges as they come in that time period

• Plan for the last quarter of the year in August with a view to rolling this out on 1st October
Planning ahead of this time is key to ensure that sales opportunities are maximised and that the best-selling inventory from the year is ready and available.

“Planning for seasonal peaks throughout the year requires much the same processes as when retailers are planning for Christmas sales. Retailers need to follow the best practice actions around 60, 45, 30 and 15 days prior to each seasonal peak as key benchmarks to ensure demand is met,” says Keith Bird, CEO, eSellerPro. “In an era of convenience where the consumer expects what they want, when they want it, through whichever channel they want, it’s not an option for retailers to fail to keep up with seasonal demand throughout the whole year.”

Patrick Munden, Head of Seller Communications Europe at eBay comments, “This guide is a useful resource that online retailers can use to plan and prepare their business(s) for the seasonal selling peaks throughout the year. Holidays and events are crucial profit pockets where retailers can drive sales and attract new buyers. This year, UK based sellers may see local and international demand for items around the Queens Diamond Jubilee and the Olympics. This is a great opportunity for sellers to think about expanding their business for international trade but also make sure their business is fully prepared for the increase in demand for memorabilia and sporting goods this summer.”

The 2012 Seasonality Guide also urges retailers to consider the more extraordinary peaks that they may not normally bear in mind, as these could also provide great opportunities to generate extra revenue. The potential of social media in the customer acquisition, engagement and retention process is also identified as a key aspect of planning and marketing that retailers must consider, with retailers advised to integrate the whole seasonal planning process with an effective social media strategy.