The best seasonal business ideas for online sellers

The best seasonal business ideas for online sellers

International seasonal e-commerce is easier than you think and offers huge growth opportunities. Learn how you can take advantage of seasonal growth at home or abroad in this article.

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Data from the ONS shows that e-commerce revenues peak two or three times a year. If you’re looking to increase your business’ revenue to take advantage of seasonal trends, you’ll need to create a carefully considered strategy.

In this article, we’ll cover some of the best seasonal business ideas for small business owners, and we’ll help you discover your business’ potential in untapped seasonal markets abroad. We’ll begin with tips on how you can extend your trading period to experiment with new seasonal goods, and then we’ll compare seasonal growth domestically versus internationally.

  • Best seasonal business ideas: tips and tricks for success
  • The importance of international seasonal e-commerce
  • How to overcome international borders with WorldFirst

Best seasonal business ideas

Pick a string of events to focus on

If you’re just starting out with seasonal business opportunities, it’s best to pick one or two events so you can find your feet. Once you get the hang of those, you can incorporate other seasonal ideas — some of them international.

If you’re already a seasonal business looking to extend your trading period, adding another event before or after your main one can help you understand your logistical demand. You’ll know how much preparation time you need for your main event across the weeks leading up to it, and can fit in business development for your new event around it.

Finally, if you’re a business looking to diversify your revenue, you may find that seasonal demand is very different to your existing business model. Weeks — sometimes months — of work culminate in a small window of time, and customer interests change as soon as the season is over.

Maximising your opportunity to meet the demand as and when it exists while minimising excess stock is vitally important. Make sure you do your market research, so you’re adequately prepared.

Start early

Even if your seasonal business idea is a relatively small e-commerce occasion (like Mother’s Day or Easter), it still needs considerable preparation. Your itemised strategy will need to cover a range of tasks: creating product listings, generating promotional codes, crafting deals, marketing, shipping logistics, and more.

If you’re branching out into a market where there’s a language barrier or new cultural norms to learn, earlier preparation time is even more important.

Capitalise on the perceived importance and build hype

Seasonal celebrations are important to people just as much as they are to your business. While Christmas spending in 2020 decreased, pre-pandemic consumption in 2019 increased from the year previous, and around one in five UK consumers even go into debt for their Christmas spending.

Offering deals to incentivise early purchases helps consumers who are looking to spread the cost. You might gain repeat business via word of mouth marketing as it gets closer to the big day, and if so, your cash flow could improve. Similarly, demonstrating that you understand why the holiday is important is crucial if you’re to break through the noise of your competitors and show your value to customers.

Repurpose existing stock

Seasonal trends are a great way for businesses to get rid of excess stock and recoup potential losses. Although it doesn’t work for every product category, repackaging (or simply re-marketing) stock you have at hand can be an easy seasonal business idea.

Because you’re familiar with existing products, it only takes a little market research and (at most) a few tweaks to your packaging design for it to sell in new markets. Products with apparently limited shelf lives — for example, crimson red items seen at Christmas — can be turned into scarlet Valentine’s Day products.

"Limited edition" as a seasonal business idea

If you’re more confident in your ability to pivot to new seasonal demand, you can go one step further than our ‘repurpose’ suggestion above: creating a ‘limited edition’ version of your product.

Unlike reusing excess stock to avoid wasted capital, businesses can take more care when creating limited product editions and meet the specific tastes of consumers for that year (whether this comes as particular flavour profiles or colour and design trends). The result is a novel and (seasonally) scarce product that interests consumers.

Take Skittles, for example. Since 2017, Skittles has offered a Pride version of their product over the summer months that plays with the usage of rainbow colours, and similar steps have also been taken by US biscuit manufacturer Oreo.

If you're looking for out-of-season inspiration, read our six-point guide to off-season business ideas for online sellers.

The importance of international seasonal e-commerce

Did you know that UK e-commerce sales peaked at only 36% of total retail sales this year? E-commerce is far more established in some international markets and offers a huge opportunity for small businesses.

Within Europe alone, sales data from 2020 shows that Ireland, Belgium and Denmark are among the leading sources of revenue for e-commerce companies; e-commerce revenues from each marketplace was at least 40% higher than the UK’s.

Further afield, the consumer preference for e-commerce couldn’t be clearer. Sales data across 2020-21 shows that the UK holds less than 5% of total e-commerce sales globally. The US is responsible for just under 20%, while China alone accounts for more than half of total e-commerce sales.

With global e-commerce revenues predicted to grow as the world recovers from the pandemic, international and seasonal e-commerce is the perfect business idea for small companies looking to expand.

Making the most of seasonal sales means being well-prepared as demand swells. As if meeting this operational challenge wasn’t enough, seasonal periods also come with the risk of over-ordering, leaving you with working capital tied up in last season’s stock that suddenly no one wants. Brush up on your seasonal inventory management skills with our latest guide.

How to overcome international borders with WorldFirst

Transitioning into new markets can be tough, but WorldFirst makes managing multiple currencies easy. WorldFirst is a leading international payments provider with nearly 20 years of experience and has transferred more than £87 billion across international borders.

Open up to 10 different international currency accounts for free and with no annual fees or minimum deposits. Find out more online or call 0207 801 1065 today.

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Niki Sehmbi
Senior Content Specialist | 7 years experience in content marketing within the tech and finance space.
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