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13 ways small businesses can beat post-holiday sales slumps: examples + tips

For most small businesses, holidays are a great time to provide the best service and sell your most popular products. Whether you run an e-commerce store or a B2B service platform, you’ll find eager customers around major holidays. The only problem: a ‘post-holiday sales slump’ halting your sales momentum in its tracks. 

Facing a slump after holiday promotions is common across various industries. Wth the right strategy, you can use this period to boost sales in the long term. To help you do that, we’ve prepared a list of 13 ways your small business can overcome the sales slump and improve your sales strategy:

  1. Create a long-term sales plan
  2. Pivot to a post-holiday sale
  3. Foster customer loyalty
  4. Revamp your marketing
  5. Encourage returns
  6. Refresh your inventory
  7. Launch a new service or product
  8. Research the field
  9. Stay engaged with your customers
  10. Retarget holiday customers
  11. Improve your mobile presence
  12. Expand your audience
  13. Invest in your own growth

1. Create a long-term sales plan

Instead of planning your strategy by the month or quarter, lay out a long-term business plan so you can plan around expected slumps and distribute resources accordingly. A good long-term plan should account for an entire year or more. By mapping out a long-term plan, you can focus on your objectives and more easily iterate on your sales strategy. 

Most entrepreneurs are familiar with writing a business plan because many startups use them to find funding. When writing one for the post-holiday slump, try to keep your main goal of improving sales in mind. Whether your business relies on tourism or a seasonal product, long-term planning will let you capitalize on every opportunity.

When writing your plan, be sure to include:

  • How your business plan achieves a specific goal
  • How it caters to customers’ pain points and objectives
  • Information on what products and services you intend to push
  • Information about your industry
  • Projected costs and earning related to your plan

2. Pivot to a post-holiday sale

post-holiday sales ideas including free additions to purchases, buy-one-get-one-free Valentine's promotions, clearance sales, and bulk buy discounts

Most holiday offers dry up after the holiday has passed, but savvy business owners can use that to their advantage. We’ll look at the December holiday season as an example. New year sales keep the holiday momentum by offering discounts longer than the competition. Here are some examples of how to achieve this:

  • Clearance sales
  • Buy-one-get-one-free offers
  • Bulk buy discounts
  • Bonus items on purchases over a certain amount
  • Limited time coupons on certain products

Because tightened inventories cut down on the number of after-Christmas sales, you don’t have to cut as much profit for the promotional pricing—instead, focus on advertising the sale to make sure the news reaches your customer base. 

Tip: Keep in mind the different advertising channels customers can find and how the holidays impact that. For example, websites typically see a lot less website traffic during holidays so consider restrategizing more efforts towards social media and direct marketing. 

3. Foster customer loyalty

You can prepare for the post-holiday slump during a peak sales period. When new clients come in during the holidays, offer your best customer service and fulfillment. That way, even without offering discounts, you can attract customers who like your service enough to return. 

Highlight your customer loyalty program

Many small businesses invest in a customer loyalty program. These programs let buyers earn points they can redeem for discounts or extra services. Offering bonus points during the holidays will bring in more customers after Christmas sales end.

Leverage past holiday deals

Some businesses offer time-sensitive deals after the holidays. These give benefits to holiday shoppers that they can only redeem after the new year. They include: 

  • Limited time offers
  • Coupons on select items
  • Early preorders on upcoming products
  • Free services related to products bought during the holidays

Whichever option you choose, the point is to make holiday interest last well into the new year. 

4. Revamp your marketing

While holiday marketing is straightforward, drawing customers outside the busy season takes more research. Instead of advertising your holiday deals and seasonal items, you have to find your audience’s goals and pain points. By marketing to their objectives and obstacles, you can reach a new audience or expand your current one.

Evaluate different periods (month-over-month, quarter-over-quarter, year-over-year) when evaluating performance for improvements—seasonality and other factors may be at play, so look at different timeframes to compare.

Review customer testimonials, changes in the field, and data from your CRM to plan new strategies. Then, implement different outreach methods at once and compare their success. Assessing and revamping marketing based on last year’s or last season’s data is one of the best ways to improve customer reach and make for more successful post-holiday sales.

5. Encourage returns

At first, increasing returns after the holidays sounds counterintuitive. However, holiday returns are a great way to bring customers back to your store. There, you wow them with your products and service. In addition, customers prefer a no-questions-asked return policy, so providing this can give you an extra edge.

The best ways to capitalize on returns include:

  • Offering bonus store credit if customers forgo cash returns
  • Providing discounts on other items when processing returns
  • Streamlining returns by sending customers packing for their unwanted item

6. Refresh your inventory

Many businesses consider the holidays their busiest time of the year. While prices are low, they tend to sell out of their most popular products. Use the post-holiday sales slump as a chance to take stock of your most popular items and refill them ASAP. You can order unpopular items less often to prevent overstocking them and save money.

Use customer fulfillment to your advantage

Keep customer fulfillment in mind when restocking your shelves. Undamaged returns can go back into your inventory at no added cost. You can also empty abandoned shopping carts and remove holds on unwanted items. Recirculating these products will save money when refreshing your stock.

QuickBooks inventory management software will help you always know what’s in stock and what’s on order.

7. Launch a new service or product

New product launches are one of the best ways to attract attention without offering a discount. You'll put the item on your customers' radar by marketing a new product during a sales peak. Then, when the slump hits, your clients have an excuse to return. 

Avoid rushing an unfinished product out the door to avoid the post-holiday slump. While great timing for your product launch is crucial, faulty releases can push customers away instead of bringing them back.

8. Research the field

post holiday research best practices including finding your most popular items, keeping up with the competition, and knowing your customers

Use the post-holiday period as a chance to conduct research and reconsider your strategy. Looking into the field will help you stay one step ahead of your competitors and anticipate your customers’ needs. Ask yourself these questions about your field:

  • What products were the most popular last year?
  • What strategy changes did your competitors reveal?
  • How have consumer demographics changed?
  • What do you believe customers' biggest goals and pain points will be this year?

Customer segmentation improves research

Customer segmentation helps keep your finger on the pulse of audience interest. Businesses segment their customers by grouping clients into distinct groups. You can find the best way to reach every demographic by studying them one at a time. 

Segmenting customers after the holidays comes with a few advantages. First, you can draw data from the broadest possible sample size because the holidays are busy. Additionally, the new year's slump provides extra time to study your data and improve personalization.

9. Stay engaged with your customers

Once the busy season ends, it's easy for clients to forget about your brand. To avoid this, find ways to engage with your customers after the holidays. For example, you can reach out to them with special offers, send them a survey, or thank them for their holiday purchases.

However you choose to do it, staying on your customers' radar increases the chance of them returning soon.

Omnichannel communication

There's more than one way you can reach out to clients. The most successful businesses keep in touch with their customers via different channels at once. The most popular ones include:

  • Social media: A low-cost way to advertise new products and services to followers with daily posts or weekly newsletters.
  • Email: The best medium for sharing coupons and sales opportunities.
  • SMS: A means of sharing order updates and reminders.
  • In-app communication: A method of reaching your most dedicated customers. People who have downloaded your app can use it to check prices, see new offerings, and engage with your brand.

10. Retarget holiday customers

Customer retargeting can turn one-time clients into regulars. Collect as many email addresses as possible when serving customers over the holidays. Once the new season rolls in, use these addresses to reach out about future sales, new products, and unique offerings. 

Someone who shops at your store once shows an interest in your product or service. Customer retargeting uses that interest to generate repeat sales. For the best results, try A/B testing to see which targeting efforts work better than others. After a while, your outreach will improve and retain more customers. 

11. Improve your mobile presence

Across e-commerce sectors, conversion rates are three times higher on mobile apps than on mobile web pages. On top of that, two-thirds of e-commerce traffic comes from mobile devices. With all that in mind, it’s easy to see how a strong mobile presence can improve sales.

After the holiday sales peak, businesses should reinvest their earnings in an improved mobile storefront. You can streamline online purchases, develop an app for loyal customers, or optimize your current website. Each of these options can lead to a dramatic increase in ROI. 

12. Expand your audience

Odds are, your most dedicated customers came to you during the holidays. Consider growing your audience and bringing in new customers during the post-holiday slump. Learn what groups have the same goals and pain points outside your target demographic. From there, you can focus on marketing to them.

Go global if it makes sense for your business

Sixty-seven percent of online shoppers have made cross-border purchases. While online-only businesses have the easiest transition, most businesses benefit from going global. Some small businesses may have to rework their shipping and billing practices to sell abroad. Despite the upfront cost, this expansion could increase income if rolled out responsibly.

QuickBooks payments can help by providing a range of payment options with fast deposits and automatic bookkeeping.

Redefine your target audience

Some businesses have the products and services needed to branch out on hand. All they need to do is find the right market. If you already performed customer segmentation, reuse your research to find new demographics for outreach. 

Specifically, you want to find customers who share your current clients’ goals and problems. Check your competitors and see what new demographics they’re reaching out to. Additionally, you can survey current customers on who they think would benefit from your company. Using these resources, you can cut a lot of the trail and error out of growing your customer base. 

13. Invest in your own growth

tips for how to reinvest holiday earnings including new business partnerships, automation, and expanded lineup of products and services

Businesses need to evolve if they want to provide the best possible service. So, assess your greatest strengths and weaknesses in the post-holdiay sales period. From there, make short and long-term investments that capitalize on strengths and compensate for weaknesses. You can automate core processes, partner with other businesses, and expand your lineup of services.

Although the new year slump gets many small businesses down, making January sales is far from impossible. Implementing these tips can bring in new customers and improve your cash flow. Beyond that, they can strengthen your business and sustain growth for years to come.

Whether you’re coming out of a sales surge or preparing for a slump, QuickBooks inventory management software will ensure your most popular products are available to customers.

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