Not the prettiest sounding two words, right? When I hear the word “slump”, I picture something like a mass of mud or rock sliding down a hill slowly. Not really the image you’d want to associate with a business.
But what exactly is a sales slump?
The Merriam-Webster dictionary definition of a slump is a marked or sustained decline, especially in economic activity or prices. A sales slump is very close to that definition. It’s not just one bad day where you don’t make any sales—it’s a gradual decrease in sales that happens over time.
It can happen to any business and most store owners have experienced a sales slump at some point. This isn’t a position entrepreneurs want to be in, but luckily, getting out of a sales slump is entirely possible.
For this blog article, I asked five print-on-demand and ecommerce experts to share their knowledge on how to get out of a sales slump. Read on to find out the seven main strategies that will help get your business back on track!
After putting so much work into designing eye-catching products, it’s discouraging to see sales go down.
While your first instinct might be to just give up, that’s exactly what passive income expert and multi-million dollar Amazon seller Ryan Hogue advises you not to do.
As Ryan points out, sometimes the reason for a sudden sales slump is an oversaturated niche. You might have a fantastic product that simply isn’t noticed because there are so many other products out there, too.
If that’s the case, there are two strategies you can use to stand out in an oversaturated market.
Firstly, offer special incentives to your customers. Free shipping, discounts, frequent buyer programs, special offers are among such examples that will catch the attention of shoppers and help you stand out from your competitors.
Secondly, stay on top of trends and act accordingly. The fashion industry is prone to constantly changing trends—if you notice a new style that’s currently in demand, it’s a good idea to design a product based on that trend and add it to the store.
After all, that’s the beauty of the print-on-demand model—you can always experiment with new ideas without investing in printing equipment or inventory!
Another piece of advice from Ryan Hogue to get more sales—use paid ads. This way, you’ll increase your product’s exposure to a broader audience.
Paid advertising is a type of online promotion where you pay the owner of ad space to display your ad. Paid ads usually appear on social media platforms, news sites, search engine result pages, and so on.
Users will only see the ad if their interests and previous search history match the product that’s advertised. For instance, ads for camping equipment will only be shown to you if you’ve previously searched for products related to camping, like tents or hiking boots.
You can try placing ads on social media platforms like Instagram, Facebook, and TikTok, depending on where your target audience spends the most time. Or, you can experiment with Google Ads. People make more than 160 billion searches per month on Google alone so having an ad displayed on top of the search engine results will help you reach a wider audience.
To give you a specific example, let’s look at Facebook. When you advertise on Facebook you can use Facebook boosted posts or Facebook ads.
A boosted post is simply a regular Facebook post that you pay to reach more people. This ensures that your post is seen by a larger number of users, or seen more often by users who are likely to engage with your content.
Boosting allows you to target your audience only on a basic level with such identifiers as behavior, gender, and geography. Facebook ads give you the capability to target more precisely—using criteria like job title, relationship status, interests, and more.
The goal of boosted posts is to get more likes, comments, and shares for your status updates, rather than purchases or registrations. They’re a great choice when you want to create brand awareness and build a fan base.
In contrast, Facebook ads are primarily used to increase registrations, and make sales.
They offer more possibilities to customize your ad than a boosted post—you can add a call-to-action button, display several products side by side in one ad, combine videos with product photos, and more.
If you’re looking to target your potential customers, Facebook ads will be perfect for that.
Since your goal at this point is to increase sales, you should pick Facebook ads and not boosted posts.
This advice comes from Cinquanta Cox-Smith. Cinquanta is an author, entrepreneur, and creator of the podcast Coins and Connections, who’s been in the print-on-demand industry for over 10 years.
As Cinquanta says, store owners should put themselves in the shoes of the customer. Imagine that you’re the shopper and think of what’s important to you when you visit a store.
Here are some of the things customers pay attention to and you should, too:
Make sure to include shipping costs, delivery times, and shipping methods in your shipping and return policies—shoppers will definitely look for this information.
Well-designed shipping and return policies will improve your overall reputation and increase sales in the long term. They create a sense of security in shoppers because they see that if something goes wrong, the store owner has their back.
For inspiration on what to include in your shipping and return policy, have a look at our blog article on how to write return and shipping policies.
Make it easy for your customer to contact you if something goes wrong or they have questions about your store. A Contact us page will reassure customers that there’s someone listening to complaints and feedback.
Being available to answer questions can help convert a curious website visitor to a customer. If you’re easy to contact, shoppers can get the answers they need and add that item to their shopping basket right away. Also, make sure that your customers can reach you where it’s easier for them—on social media, via chat, and so on.
It should be easy for your potential customers to find the products they’re looking for. Sites with too many navigation options can feel cluttered and overwhelming, increasing the likeliness that visitors will leave your website.
If you have a lot of products and collections, use a drop-down menu. This way, you’ll be able to organize your products and pages for easy exploration without overwhelming customers with too many options. For instance, you can follow the example of Puma’s drop-down menu.
Many online stores also include a search bar to help visitors who know exactly what they are looking for—especially if they have many different products or lots of content to explore.
A good product description provides a compelling story that convinces your customer that they need this product in their life. It answers any questions your buyer may have and also ones they may not know they have.
Make sure to mention specific features or benefits of your product to motivate your shopper. You don’t have to list every benefit and every feature. Pick the three most valuable features, describe the advantages of the features, and what they bring to the table.
A good practice is to make your product descriptions easy to read with bullet points. Few people really have the time to read everything they find online. Bullet points provide a clear and concise way to display the most important information.
Richard from Ecommerce Platforms advises store owners to take a look at the strategies they used when they had lots of sales.
Richard is a freelance copywriter and ecommerce expert. His expertise covers everything from ecommerce platforms to email marketing software and print-on-demand services.
His tip for ecommerce sellers is to ask yourself—what was I doing that made me successful? What am I doing now that might be different?
If you’re struggling to come up with answers, a good strategy is to check Google Analytics or Facebook Analytics and look for patterns that could explain your previous success.
This was something Richard did when he hit a sales slump and he made a valuable discovery. He found out that while reaching out to people in Facebook groups and sharing links was very time and energy-consuming, referral traffic from Facebook always resulted in the highest conversion rates.
After this discovery, Richard started approaching people in Facebook groups and his sales picked up again. The lesson he learned, as he says, is that sometimes you just have to go back to basics and try the same methods that helped you grow your business in the beginning.
Learn More: How to Develop an Effective Marketing Strategy
What if you tried those same techniques and your sales still aren’t picking up?
In that case, follow Richard Lazazzera’s advice. Richard is an entrepreneur and founder of A Better Lemonade Stand with experience supporting early-stage entrepreneurs.
He discovered that sometimes, you just need to get out of your comfort zone and try something you’ve never done before. Here’s what Richard has to say:
“If you always rely on the same marketing methods or the same sales strategies, then try something different. Get your product in front of new audiences, try working with influencers on different platforms, make new ads, start selling on a marketplace—just try something new.”
Experimenting with an entirely new marketing strategy can seem a bit daunting at first. If you’re in a slump, you’re already losing sales. What if you go wrong and lose even more sales?
But as Richard says, you’re probably missing out on valuable customers and sales opportunities just by sticking to what you’ve always done.
After all, to paraphrase Albert Einstein, it would be crazy to expect different results by doing the same thing over and over again, right?
To get inspiration for new marketing ideas, check out our blog articles on marketing tips and tricks.
If you want to increase your sales, having a social media presence is absolutely essential. Promoting on social media will drive traffic to your store’s website, meaning that you’re more likely to get those sales rolling.
However, here’s what Cynthia Ly from Ecom Dominators has to say about social media.
Cynthia’s YouTube channel is dedicated to inspiring and helping people to start their own online print-on-demand business.
As she points out, sometimes it’s not enough to promote your brand on just one social media site.
“Oftentimes, people are only advertising on Facebook but forget to expand their reach to other social media sites like Pinterest, Twitter, or TikTok. Unfortunately, not everyone in your niche will have a Facebook account. Therefore, it is important to diversify your traffic sources by learning how to establish your brand’s presence/authority on other social media sites.”
Having accounts on several social media sites means that you can reach more potential customers. But how do you decide which social media platform to pick?
There are two things to take into consideration.
First, think about who your target audience is and which social media platform they’re most likely to use. You can experiment with multiple platforms as long as that’s also where your customers are.
You want to be as specific as possible since it’ll make your decision easier. Write down the answers to the following questions:
Based on your answers, you can come up with a couple of options where to promote your product. For example, if your target audience is young teens, then TikTok is probably where to find them. If your potential customers are women in their 30s, consider Pinterest.
Secondly, set a goal—what do you want to achieve when you sign up on a certain social media platform? As a store owner, your primary goal will likely be to drive sales by attracting customers. But there are other creative goals for social media marketing.
Some brands use social media to drive brand recognition and to develop friendly relationships with potential buyers, others use social media for customer support. For example, Netflix uses the Twitter handle @Netflixhelps to address customer service issues. This way, they can solve any issues their customers might have and promote their brand at the same time.
For example, if your goal is to raise brand awareness, then Twitter is a good choice. If you want to drive sales, go for Facebook. To find out more, have a look at this article about what to consider when choosing the right social media platform for your business.
If you’re really struggling, reach out for help. Chances are that other store owners have gone through a sales slump just like yours and may be able to provide some wisdom. You can find other sellers in Facebook groups, Quora communities, or if you want advice from fellow Printful customers—try Printful Insiders!
People are often too scared to ask for help because they see it as a sign of weakness.
But asking for help isn’t a weakness at all. If anything, it’s a sign of strength as you’re being open and honest about something you’re not confident about.
Or, as Ryan Hogue explains:
“Don’t be afraid to ask for help or learn from someone that’s been there before. We often make things more complicated than they need to be! If you know someone that’s accomplished what you’re attempting to do, reach out for help! Focus on fast-tracking your way to success, and one critical way of doing that is to knock down barriers and obtain help from experts.’’
Don’t know any other store owners like you to talk to? Try podcasts, radio shows, YouTube videos, and more to gain inspiration.
Remember that going through a sales slump doesn’t mean that you’re bad at running a business. Most ecommerce sellers will experience a decrease in sales at least once in their life.
Embrace a sales slump as a learning opportunity instead of failure. Beating it will make you better at growing your business, but only if you don’t give up and keep going.
So follow our experts’ advice and let us know in the comments below if you’ve tried other strategies!
Marta is a Content Marketing Specialist at Printful with a background in Social Anthropology. She's passionate about marketing, UX research, and the Oxford comma.