Lessons for everyone from an EXTREMELY seasonal business

For those of you with ‘gift’ businesses, who think they have a seasonal sales pattern – it’s nothing compared to Tamsin Burford’s Winter National.

They sell designer ladies skiwear.

Whilst of course there is the obvious cashflow, sales and customer service pressures of being seasonal – Tamsin and her team have found ways to use it to their advantage. And actually, when you get under the skin of it, they’re methods that even the least seasonal of us could embrace!

You can listen to her interview right here

To everything there is a season

In the interview we chatted a lot about how the team at Winter National change their focus at different times of the year because of the sales patterns, and buying patterns of the business:

  • Sales occur during the northern hemisphere snow season – so October through Feb
  • The ‘buy’ happens in January
  • During the season social media is very product and sales focused, through the rest of the year it’s softer – focused on a love of the mountains!
  • Spring and Summer means analysing the marketing and deciding on the plan for the coming winter
  • It also means getting under the hood of the website and deciding what improvements to make before the coming season, and then testing them – I loved that they’re working through a shortlist of upsell/cross apps over the next few months, so they have the right one by the time everyone wants skiwear again

You may read through that list and go – well, obviously SHE can do that, because of their sales pattern.

But really, any of us can. The only difference between (most of) us and Tamsin is that she has the discipline of the structure imposed on her by the fashion designers and the weather! For the rest of us we have to create our own discipline, or focus.

So take a look at your business – which areas could do with a seasonal cycle?

  • Could your social media (and your team) benefit from a change of pace every other month?
  • Should you be having a regular website review week? Maybe once a quarter where you dive into the stats and decide what improvements should be made in the coming months?
  • Would it be a good idea to gather the marketing team together every 6 months to do a thorough review and decide what to continue, and what to test over the next 6 months?
  • Is it as simple as having a team day each quater?

Here at eCommerce MasterPlan we have a couple of seasonal opportunities we try to take advantage of:

  • July and August have almost no conferences in them, so I tend to stay put in the office in Cornwall. Which is a great opportunity to catch up with business friends in online chats, review the performance of the start of the year, and get everything planned for the upcoming crazy busy Autumn!
  • December is a time when most of you don’t want to hear from me, because you’re busy with Christmas. So that’s our other planning and reviewing window for the year, plus I take the opportunity to get 2 whole weeks off!
  • We’re still learning the podcast’s own unqiue cycle – but this year feel pretty smug that rather than chasing all of you to be guests during the Autumn, by the end of August we all our interviews recorded right through to January! I’ll admit it was a bit surreal saying “happy christmas” in July – but I think it’s suited us, and hopefully you as well!

If you have any self-imposed seasons in your business please do share them below!

Take a listen to Tamsin’s podcast interview, or watch out for next week’s episode where I review my top efficiency books – including this topic!