The Impact Snow Has on Online Consumer Behaviour

Snow Joke or N-ice Opportunity? How Does the Snow Affect Consumer Behaviour?

The UK is set to fall under a blanket of snow later today, but how will this affect businesses?

The UK is set to fall under a blanket of snow later today, but how will this affect businesses?

Well, aside from potentially having a quiet day in the office with staff potentially taking a work-from-home day, the business may also see a difference in their online sales or leads.

Before we go too far, apologies for the snow-related puns – we may drift into more.

Sounds interesting, let me snow (ahem, know) more

It goes without saying, there are many businesses that see a dramatic change during inclement weather. For example, a plumbing company will likely be inundated with enquiries for boiler cover and burst pipe repairs. But how does it impact other businesses?

Bad news for shops with a physical store; snow keeps people at home. Adverse driving conditions and a general dislike for colder temperatures means people are less likely to venture too far outside.

During this time, if you have an ecommerce store, you may want to use the downtime to work on the online side of the business. With people at home, they’re likely to have more time for online shopping and using online social platforms.

So, what can be done to make the most of it?

Push items that people are more likely to buy when it’s snowing

If you’re an ecommerce store, a quick way to take advantage of inclement weather is to promote the items people are more likely to buy during the winter. Naturally people like to stock up their kitchens with plenty of food but what else to people buy during a cold snap? Here is a list of items that see increased sales:

  • Furniture: yep, an odd one. But think about it, more people are stuck at home. This alone time with the house contents can spark the desire to improve the way the house looks or functions.
  • Wholesale items: again, this may seem like an odd one but this is largely down to people ‘stocking up’. It’s cheaper to buy things in bulk and snow encourages a lot of bulk buying in case they are unable to leave the house over a period of time.
  • Clothing: How many of us are looking at the snow and an incomplete winter wardrobe? Well as it turns out, quite a few of us. Online clothing retailers often report an increase in sales during sudden weather/temperature changes.
  • Medication: From getting a repeat prescription for regular ailments to over the counter remedies for the sniffles, sales and orders for medication sees an increase. This happens for a number of reasons, primarily; people are worried about running out of medication halfway through a snowstorm and being unable to get their needed prescriptions as well as the cold weather dramatically increasing the number of common illnesses such as a cold.

On the other hand, it may also be wise to more heavily promote items that could perish in colder temperatures so that you don’t end up with a warehouse full of dud stock. For example, according to a post by Julie Ellis for Business.com, Sears worked out that after 96 hours of freezing cold temperatures they’d see the death of any batteries that were 5+ years old. With this information, they launched marketing campaigns and sales on batteries 72 hours into a severe cold spell.  

Use social media to your advantage

For many people, office based jobs checking social media occasionally is a quick way to take the mind off work during lunch breaks, travel time or when there is a couple of minutes of downtime.  We can see this as social media usage throughout the day looks something like this:

Source: Sprout Social

But with more people at home, often without supervision it’s a little easier to check social media. Also with bad weather also increases social media engagement.

It’s also worth bearing in mind that there is a shift in emotions when the weather changes. Weatherad.io reported a 1.16% increase in negative Facebook posts during bad weather. This can be the perfect time to talk about things that cheer people up. If you’re a holiday company, this would be prime time for an ‘escape the rubbish weather with a sunny holiday’ post.

Anything else I should think about?

Yes. Staff safety.

Whilst it may be great getting some extra orders through your site, remember that fulfillment could be an issue. We don’t meant to be boring but think about your delivery drivers and people travelling to get to the office – staff safety is paramount and if the roads are too d-icey (sorry) then you may need to hold off on deliveries in certain areas. Your customers will understand. Make sure you drop them an email or a phone call to explain the situation, apologise and rearrange.

Conclusion

A snow day isn’t the end of the working day, use this time to push what people are more likely to buy, promote items that benefit people more in cold weather and make sure you’re still marketing your products. Most of all, enjoy the snow if you can and be safe!

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