Everyone experiences slow times. Your down times may be directly related to mistakes you are making (Read: What to do when nothing is selling and The problem with Under-Pricing) however there's 50 additional reasons that sellers rarely consider that can trigger a sales drought yet have absolutely nothing to do with the seller. Let's take a look at these:
1. Recession / Down Economy. Common sense is that when people can’t pay their bills they’re not buying the yoga pants you have listed on Poshmark… “duh”, right?
2.Holidays, such as 4th of July. When people are traveling and partying with friends and family they are not shopping online. However you can often get lucky and rake in some extra sales the day after a holiday if it’s a “hangover day”, such as January 1st.
3. Website / Marketplace is down or glitchy. If the Shopping Cart or Checkout isn’t working, there is no way to sell stuff. Usually these glitches only apply to a certain type of device (pc / desktop, Android or Apple) and are usually resolved same-day but it undoubtedly decreases sales. Most of the time you aren’t even going to know if the site you sell on is experiencing technical difficulties. If you want to check the status of a website you can use a site like DownDetector.com to see if there are currently known outages, glitches and other issues:
DownDetector is super cool and you can check the status of almost all major platforms. Take a look at all the eBay glitches just from today (11.21.20):
4. Slow page load times. Again, this is another glitch that is usually temporary but nobody wants to wait 17 seconds for a page to load. 17 seconds may sound like nothing but when the buyer is staring at a blank screen, trust me, it is eternity. A slow page load may have nothing to do with an actual web error, so we are giving it its own bullet-point.
5. DDOS attack on website or Marketplace. We share servers with Amazon and I will never forget the DDOS attack that occurred a few years back. If I recall correctly it was October 2016. It was called “The biggest DDOS attack in history” / “DYN Attack”, It was terrifying because most of the internet was shut down for around 36+ hours; this included Twitter, the Guardian, Netflix, Reddit, CNN, Amazon and out website. It was a feeling of being totally hopeless.
6. Massive events in the news. We noticed a gigantic dip in sales November 2nd - November 8th, 2020 which directly coincides with the 2020 presidential election and the confusion surrounding it. Hurricanes / Floods / Fires / Mass Shooting… all of these things impact online sales. When people experience overall fear they double-think making unnecessary purchases.
7. Stock Market - If the stock market suddenly falls people stop spending due to financial uncertainty
8. Along those lines, the stock market could be doing just peachy but if the brand you are heavily invested in is a falling star, sales can drop faster than a hot potato.
9. Retail Stores doing insane sales. Yes, it is very hard for an online seller to compete with Macy's Black Friday deals.
10. Week of “Back to School”. Parents are strapped for cash due to the supplies they had to purchase for their children
11. App glitches. If the buyer is shopping using the eBay app or Amazon App and it is not fully functioning this definitely impacts sales. An app glitch has nothing to do with the actual “.com”.
12. Immediately after a holiday that involves heavy spending. For example, December 26th - Jan 31st may be exceptionally slow because people are recovering from all the Christmas Gifts they purchased
13. Last Day and First Day of each month; most people's rent is due on the 1st, therefore people are more cautious with spending, although, to complicate things, many marketplace sellers report that the 17th of the month is the slowest days for them because this is the next most common due date for bills.
14. New Competition. If a competitor has popped up and is undercutting you this can lead to them taking away sales from you
15. Its July. July is statistically the slowest month for individual-item online sales. Oddly, July is usually a fairly good month in the wholesale industry.
16. Strange Seasons. Some years winter comes early and you’re selling sweaters like crazy in October. Other years summer seems to be endless. When the seasons are not typical people don’t start looking for that new heavy winter coat until the snow starts to fall.
17. Lockdowns! We officially have to add this to the list. It’s currently November 2020 and here in Michigan we have been locked down in MARCH! Although lockdowns do increase online sales, people are uncertain if the company they work for will be able to “weather the storm” and stay open after 9 months of little-to-no business. If you’re not sure if you still have your job you are going to hesitate to spend.
18. It’s February. While Feb is NOT the slowest month, it has the fewest days so it can appear that it was a slow month, when in reality it is not, just be sure to account for the lesser days of selling.
19. Season Change = Clearance Racks. When retail stores reach the major season change milestones they put all of their merchandise on “Final Clearance”. People seeking deals are drawn to the stores and the stores .com to score that super cheap stuff, which takes away sales from online sellers
20. Semi Annual Sales and similar. Some stores, such as Victorias Secret, have scheduled inventory blowouts. During these times you are not going to sell much of the brand that is dumping inventory.
21. Bad Feedback. Although a couple bad feedbacks swimming in a pool of 5-stars isn’t actually harmful, most marketplaces have algorithms that “de-boost” sellers with recent bad feedbacks. Since the algorithms are secret you will never know that you were “de-boosted”.
22. Celebrity ANTI-endorsement. If a leading celeb called the brand or products disgusting, their followers will rush to bash it. Before you can even read all the negative publicity, your listings have already tanked. On the other hand, this can also have the reverse effect! If a celeb happens to wear the item or endorse it, sales will skyrocket!
23. The marketplace scaled back on advertising. Remember when eBay used to run all of those tv ads? Remember when Amazon was going heavy on commercials? If the place you are selling has pulled their ads this is going to have a direct impact on your sales.
24. Algorithm change NOT related to bad feedback. When eBay made their massive algorithm change in late 2018-or-so it greatly hurt clothing sellers specifically.
25. The Brand has rerouted. You can agree or disagree with the brands decisions, but regardless of your personal opinion these decisions can massivly impact sales. Sometimes it increases sales and other times it divides customers and sales plummet. As an example, when NIKE began working with Kappernick; some people rushed to buy NIKE while others burned their high tops and haven't bought the brand since.
26. Quality or Manufacturer / Supplier Change: When Victorias Secret began changing their QUALITY around 2018 everything changed for our company. Prior to the new VS management their quality was 5-star. I literally had PINK hoodies that I bought in 2002 and still wore in 2018. But around 2018 VS began to decrease quality so they could offer cheaper stuff. The good quality zippers and fabrics became low-end, mass-produced stuff. As a buyer, it ran me off. I began buying my personal bras through TrueAndCo and I switched my hoodies to assorted other brands but overall I am a fan of “Alternative” brands.
27. China! When eBay began allowing China sellers to dominate their platform, many of us said “This is the beginning of the end”. The super-super-cheap “China stuff” is priced so low that USA sellers cannot compete. As an example, I wanted to buy some simplistic jewelry clasps. At JoAnn Fabrics they were around $8 for 500 pieces. On eBay, in the USA they were $7 + free shipping for 500 pieces. But on eBay, from China, they are 1,000 pieces for $4 with free shipping. As you can see, the China Listing is very appealing. The reason China is able to offer these crazy prices is because their employee wages is only $300 - $550 PER MONTH, employers do not have to pay additional costs and there’s no real working condition regulations. Yes, child labor is acceptable there. Wait, did I mention that a China seller can ship to the USA for 90% less than a USA seller can ship WITHIN THE USA? This is because USPS worked out a long-term deal with China that allows them to export for almost nothing. :( With all of this in mind, the China seller is able to offer the identical listing for a fraction of the price. The end result is the USA seller losing sales.
28. People are jumping ship and getting aboard Amazon and Poshmark. Competitor marketplaces like Depop are popping up left and right. When sellers abandon the marketplace buyers leave too because the selection is less. Decrease in sellers + Decrease in Buyers = Decrease in SALES!
29. Times have changed. What worked great in 2010 is not “friendly” in 2020. For example, in 2008 people were all about frills. They wanted the fancy item with the glittery tissue paper packaging, the fancy box, the handwritten “Thanks for Your Purchase” note and the free gift also wrapped in corresponding glitter tissue. Fast forward to today and the USA is becoming super “eco friendly”. Times are changing and people are wanting to support sustainable materials, earth positive packaging, and most of all, fast shipping is far more important than a free gift.
30. On that note, photos have changed. People now want to “zoom in”, watch videos and have an actual “User Experience” (AKA: “UX”). This isn’t my opinion, this is an actual fact. If your listing is outdated it isn’t your fault, it’s just that technology is evolving and therefore you must make changes to keep up
31. Amazon has “changed the game”. Due to Amazon offering fast, FREE shipping, all online sellers are now expected to do the same. This isn’t fair to online sellers, but its reality.
32. MAINSTREAM MEDIA!!!! When the media is broadcasting that the world is ending people become afraid. When people are scared they hesitate to click the “Buy” button.
33. After-Christmas Credit Card Bill Came. It’s safe to assume that you will see a slow time when that dreaded January credit card bill shows up. All those Christmas Gifts stare the swiper in the face when the black-and-white bank statement is delivered mid-Jan.
34. Outlets Opening. Let’s say you are a hardcore Tommy Hilfiger seller and 65+% of your listings are Tommy. Tommy has continued to open new outlet stores on a consistent basis. The current list of TH outlets is so long that I don’t even have time to count them; my mega-guesstimate would be 75 across the USA. Being that there’s 50 states, this is more than 1 per state. See how this could be problematic?
35. The marketplace has begun competing with you. In what seems like a previous life I had a large flea market space. The amazing owner of the flea market died and his jackass son took control. His son suddenly found it wise to directly compete with the long-time flea market sellers by opening competitor spaces, owned by him, right next to successful flea market sellers. Because he had his dads $$$$$ to buy product he was able to destroy the small, family businesses. Yes, he ran them all out… and within 5 years the flea market was doing so financially bad that he sold the property. I’m sure hes super wealthy now due to his fathers work and hasn’t once considered what he did to utterly decimate the people who helped build his fathers empire. Now let me as you, “Does AMAZON BASICS ring a bell????”
36. A major deal (or lack of) happens: If the brands goes out of business, the store closes or the brand is bought out by another brand this can impact sales. For example, if news breaks that Sears is filing bankruptcy, people may think “eek” when it comes to buying a Kenmore brand product because it’s owned by Sears. Just the news of the “financial problems” can terrify people.
37. Bad Publicity for the Brand. Yep, it’s true. You really think people were rushing to buy Jello when Bill Cosby was accused of doing horrific things? Heck, even YEARS after the accusations began, Jello couldn’t get people to forget about their association with the fallen star.
38. The merchandise is no longer hip / cool / dope / lit / GOAT … if you’re 20 years old and reading this you’re probably like “Who the F is Ed Hardy?” but if you’re over the age of 35 and reading this you’re like “I once sold for an Ed Hardy Tee for $125!”
39. World-Wide Chaos. If sh*t happens in Europe it’s going to have a ripple effect to the USA. When major things happen everyone is impacted, even if you don’t live there. Equally, if prosperity in other countries is bountiful you can expect a rise in your sales.
40. On that note, if your product assortment never changes it becomes stagnant. Mix it up a little by adding new products
41. Outdated “Advice”. Times have greatly changed and a lot of the “advice” found on the internet is outdated. If you are still following old advice and starting-and-ending your listings on Saturdays or Sundays you are missing out, BIG TIME! As of 2020, Thursdays are now labeled the best day to sell! For us, as a wholesaler, we usually have strong Tuesdays, which makes a lot of sense because our buyers are online sellers, so they make their sales on Thursday, it takes a couple days for the funds to reach their account then they buy through us on Tuesdays. However, if you are selling single items, Thursday is great because people are experiencing “It’s ALMOST FRIDAY!” excitement, so instead of focusing on work they are scrolling through the marketplace you sell on.
42. Knockoffs - Yes, we earlier mentioned direct competition with “China Prices” but, as a whole, the knockoff industry decimates the USA and it’s sellers. A stay at home mom who invested in authentic MAC brand cosmetics paid $8 per piece whereas a counterfeit seller from Asia is charging on $6 for the lipstick, free shipping included. It is impossible to compete with the sell-price of knockoffs.
43. New, improved version - if the product you are selling has since changed or improved, you have an outdated model. An outdated model may become worth more or less depending what it is. In 2020 people are not rushing to buy a 15 year old cell phone but they will indeed pay 5x retail price for a perfume that has been discontinued for 15 years.
44. Product Recalls - Worst case scenario for an inventory investment. Nobody wants to be stuck with a pallet of recalled baby cribs!
45. Supply & Demand - The more abundance of the product there is equals the lower the price. Limited supply of the product means a higher sell price. If the merchandise you are selling is currently flooding the market your sales will plummet if your price is higher than the rest. Your only options are to “wait it out” or to lower your price. Like the old song goes, “You gotta know when to hold ‘em. Know when to fold ‘em. Know when to walk away, know when to run”
46. Screen-Size Change: This is kind of crazy-sounding but it is totally true. If the photos you are using are not compatible with the current-model cell phone, computer or tv screen size you will have a mass decrease in sales. As an example, we had to change our product video recording quality and video size to accommodate new cell phone screen sizes. Never forget that televisions now allow shopping! How do your product images look when blown up on a large screen?
47. Conspiracy Theories - It’s just reality; if the brand you are selling has became a target of the newest conspiracy theory that claims the designer is actually The Golden State Serial Killer, you can expect that it may impact sales.
48. USA Events in general: Super bowl, college graduation week, the week before Spring Break…. People are strapped for cash. These are not actual holidays but they are expenses for a large population in the USA.
49. Netflix / HBO Max / Amazon Prime: These are the new “celebrities” who can single-handedly create OR DESTROY trends through a single movie.
50. It is now deemed “Offensive” - Yep, it’s 100% possible that the merchandise you carry could now be on the “DO NOT BUY” list because it has been considered offensive.
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