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Bad weather = big online bucks

Posted by Michael Bloch in ecommerce (Thursday December 16, 2010 )

I’ve always found the cooler months in North America tend to be a little busier online and the same in Australia. During warmer months, people are often in that mysterious place called “outside”.

While “outside” won’t be immune to the lure of online shopping for long, thanks to the rise of mobile commerce, for the moment many consumers are untouchable outdoors. In some ways, this isn’t a bad thing – people do need a break from the unsustainable and insane buy, buy, buy routine.

But when the weather forces them indoors, it can make quite a difference.

For example, according to a report on Internet Retailer, while crappy weather decreased in-store traffic for the week ending December 11 by 4%, online retailers experienced traffic up 5% for the week overall compared to last year, and up 10% or more in areas where the weather was really bad.

Back in the days where I briefly managed a major fast-food chain restaurant, I remember the weather forecast being used plan for the next day’s food prep.

Maybe online retailers should be taking the weather into account a bit more as well. If you know weather is going to be particularly bad in a certain state, it may be a good time to target people in that state with email offers and special promotions via Twitter and FaceBook.

Some businesses are taking the weather very seriously in planning promotion; utilizing research companies such as Planalytics who provide what they call Business Weather Intelligence – the “actionable information companies need to understand and optimize the impact of weather on their business.”

It hasn’t escaped me that climate change may do a lot for online business – in some cases anyway. Someone whose apartment is knee high in water and sewage isn’t likely to be in the mood to browse eBay and a farmer whose crops have withered isn’t going to have the cash to be looking to buy tractors.


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