Preparing for Off-Peak Season; How to Thrive During Slow Retail Months

With the peak season in full swing, many brands have geared up their strategies for the busiest time of the year. Black Friday, Cyber Monday and the festive shopping season are known to be some of the biggest annual shopping events with Business Tech reporting that one of South Africa’s leading banks, First National Bank (FNB), had a record R3 billion spend on Black Friday 2022 – with most shoppers favouring physical stores to grab their Black Friday deals.

Niamh NicLiam

The issue however comes when brands fail to plan for the post-holiday lull which typically takes place in the first few months of the year as the financial burdens of the new year start to creep in. The goal for brands shouldn’t be to simply survive the low season but instead use it to their advantage by carefully strategizing how to keep consumers engaged and prepare for future success. 

Here are 5 key tips businesses need to thrive during off peak season

Pause and Reflect

Stop, take a moment and take stock. Low season is the perfect time to reflect on your past performance. Get your teams together to discuss what insights you can derive from the previous 12 months. What successes can you learn from the previous year that you can leverage in the upcoming seasons? Alternatively, what strategies have you trialled that didn’t have the expected impact? Reflect and use your past data to plan for a successful year ahead. 

Understand your Consumer

Their needs are not limited to “peak”, so understand what drives and appeals to them, and engage them with messaging that will leverage these drivers. Get to know your customers all over again. What are their needs, what are their favourite products, when do they like to shop, what deals worked best for them in the past. Use your current data and/or survey your existing customer base to get their feedback and input on how to improve their shopping experience going forward. Repeat customers are your biggest asset, cultivate those relationships and get them involved in your future planning and strategy.

Build your First-Party Data 

Consider offering that little something extra. Perhaps a free gift or running a discount campaign can be a great value exchange to gather first party data, while giving something back to your customers. As we move toward a cookie-less future, first party data is becoming more and more important, so use the quieter period to build your audiences. As we touched on above, surveys are another great way to gather data on your customer base which will also give you the added benefit of building your first party data. 

Get Out of your Comfort Zone

See what’s going on outside of your day to day work cycle. Analyse your competitive landscape and research what your competitors are doing. Get out from behind your desk, visit your retail stores and see what’s happening on the ground. Another important factor to consider is your omnichannel strategy. In our Incubeta Predicts 2023 round up, our digital specialists unpack why Hybrid or Omnichannel strategies will continue to be a main focus for advertisers and brands in 2023. As privacy centricity takes centre stage, it’s becoming more challenging to measure and track digital media, therefore forcing advertisers to become smarter about how they can develop a holistic customer journey that’ll drive traffic both instore and online. Use your downtime to get out of the office and investigate what’s happening on the ground to align your online to offline strategies.

Take the Time to Learn

Take the time to complete any certifications or courses that you’ve had on your radar, and enable your team to do the same. Digital trends and technologies are constantly evolving so use your quieter times to keep up and upskill your teams to be able to thrive during peak seasons. Here at Incubeta South Africa we invest in continuous internal training and people development programs by hosting weekly training sessions every Friday on various topics such as digital trends, platform training, soft skills development and customer service toolkits, however this quieter time can be a period that allows you to truly get into the depth of your learning and master new skills. This not only benefits your internal teams but is a great company perk that attracts and retains a skilled workforce.

The groundwork you do in slower seasons will greatly benefit you during peak and improve your overall performance going forward. Use these tactics above to learn from your data, upskill your teams and gear up for the seasons to follow.


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