6 off-season business ideas for online sellers

Six off-season business ideas for online sellers

Seasonal businesses can generate a lot of money in a short amount of time, but how can online sellers survive in the off-season? Here are our top six ideas.


Seasonal businesses can be lucrative and fun to run. But what happens the morning after Halloween? What about when the lights come down after Christmas? Or when the sun sets on the last evening of summer? The solution lies in your ability to pivot — to find off-season business ideas that sustain you all year round, because it can be tough to pay a year’s expenses with the income you make in a matter of weeks.

Many business owners feel bored at best – and financially fraught at worst – during the off season. So, here are six ideas to combat the quiet, plus top tips to make the most of overseas markets.

1. Expand into other seasons

Finding a niche in every season can help to distribute income more evenly. Similarly, expanding your season slightly can help bring in more revenue. If you sell barbecue or outdoor leisure items in the summer, consider adding an autumn-centric product line; if you focus exclusively on Christmas, try marketing your wares a month sooner.

2. Pivot with new products or services

When the COVID-19 pandemic hit, British outerwear company Barbour began making PPE. Simply put, Barbour noticed a marketplace opportunity and changed its operational strategy accordingly. As a marketplace seller, you can do the same sort of thing: if you see a gap in the market, create a plan to fill it with a new product or service.

3. Offer early bird specials

Create a "Christmas in July" feeling with special deals designed to pull high-volume customers in early. This tactic works especially well if you’re a wholesale distributor, but you can also use advance sales to gauge interest in a product well before the seasonal consumption period. If you have viable leftover stock from last year, consider a pre-season sale.

4. Generate an off-season buzz

There’s no better time to create a buzz than during the off season. If you have a new product, begin building excitement well in advance of its launch. Plan a social media strategy, create an email campaign or write a series of blog posts. Post a countdown timer, offer a discount code or drop hints about features before you go live.

5. Focus on education

When buyers are educated they'll feel more comfortable purchasing products. You can use the off season as an opportunity to teach your consumer base about your products or services, and about why your business is the best choice. If you establish an authoritative online presence, people are more likely to trust the advice you give them; in turn, you’ll learn about your target market.

6. Grow your social media presence

On the whole, successful organisations in Britain use social media to communicate with customers. Some set up business profiles on Facebook, while others choose Twitter or Instagram. Still others prefer B2B networking on LinkedIn. If you currently have a weak or non-existent social media presence, you can strengthen it by posting relevant, engaging content in the off season.

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Make the most of foreign markets

Expanding into foreign markets can help keep your sales volume steady throughout the year. Let’s imagine you run a gardening supplies business: in the UK, your busiest season could be spring, or early summer. Sales might drop off in late autumn, and winter could be your quietest time of year. If you successfully expand into a market in the Mediterranean, or in the southern hemisphere, your year-round sales could stabilise.

If you specialise in fixed seasonal events like Christmas or Halloween, you could broaden your scope in a foreign market. Special occasions in China, for example, include:

  • Chinese New Year – January or February: Also called Spring Festival, this is arguably the biggest yearly celebration on the Chinese calendar.
  • Lantern Festival – February or March: People all over China collectively release billions of lanterns to mark this occasion, also known as the Shangyuan Festival.
  • Dragon Boat Festival – May or June: Traditional activities on this Chinese public holiday include dragon boat racing. Foods like z​​ongzi – sticky rice dumplings – are also popular.
  • Double Seventh Day – August: This is the Chinese equivalent of Valentine’s Day, and it falls on the 7th day of the 7th month on the Chinese calendar.
  • Mid-Autumn Festival – September or October: People all over China reunite with family members and send lanterns into the sky at Mid-Autumn Festival — or Mooncake Festival — events.
  • Double Ninth Festival — October: Chrysanthemums and mountain-climbing are both centre stage at the Double Ninth Festival, also called the Chongyang Festival.
  • Singles Day — November 11th: A popular unofficial holiday, Singles Day — or Double 11 — is a celebration of single people. It’s the largest shopping day in the world.

Some business owners establish websites in China, or in other Asian markets, just to take advantage of these seasonal events.

Work with an experienced payment partner

Companies that decide to pivot, expand into other seasons or take their operations global often also create new relationships with overseas suppliers. Manufacturers in China, for instance, can help you establish a presence in Asia: they’re already based in the region, and they have a good understanding of the Asian marketplace.

If you decide to collaborate with a supplier in China, you’ll probably need to make regular international payments. In that scenario, it helps to have an experienced payment partner like WorldFirst at your side. With over 15 years experience in rapid cross-border currency transfers — including payments to China's leading B2B marketplace platform, 1688.com — WorldFirst's World Account is a leading choice for international transactions.


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