Parents and teachers have always promoted delaying gratification as a means to achieving goals. Earlier in my life, I remember my mother promising me additional hours of playtime if I finished eating my food without delay. Countless times, we were reminded as children to study first and prepare for our exams before playing with toys or watching videos. Oftentimes, we’d complain, wondering why we couldn’t do it the other way around, especially when we already spent much of our time in school.
As we got older though, we found the wisdom in their words, applying this in various ways such as trying to lose weight the right way by lessening food intake and focusing on healthier options, saving up enough money for expensive gadgets, or maybe a grand trip to a country that you’re eager to go to. While it was difficult to establish this as a habit, a constant practice allowed us to develop this skill further.
What complicates delayed gratification is that there are no guarantees. Even if you stayed up late at night and sacrificed hours of sleep to meet a deadline, there’s no assurance that your work would surpass or even just meet standards. You might find yourself checking websites constantly in an effort to secure a slot for a Playstation 5, or maybe catch the cheapest deal for a seat sale to travel, only to find yourself disappointed time and again. Maybe if you forgot your best friend’s birthday party to play host to some international clients, you might broker a deal. Then again, maybe not.
Despite the existence of possibilities that could turn out negatively, there are still some situations where almost always, waiting will pay off. The much-awaited midyear sales, both in physical stores but especially from e-commerce businesses, drop their prices so low that it’s a must to wait if you’re planning on buying something that’s pricey.
The Evolution of Sales
Midyear sales, as the name implies, take place in the middle of each calendar year. Back then, the goal of businesses was to dispose of unwanted inventory to make room for new stocks, and these sales were advertised to celebrate the halfway point of a year, in between the start of a new year sale and the holiday sales throughout the Christmas season.
The way businesses conducted these sales have evolved throughout the years because of the change in manufacturing methodologies. Products were being produced en masse at a low cost that was projected to decrease even more as volume increased. While the advent of mass production occurred much earlier, it took off even more in the 1960s, with more factories utilizing assembly lines, thereby maximizing efficiency.
Having a surplus of products led to interesting situations. Resellers bought in bulk from their suppliers to gain huge discounts, and the volume of similar products being offered across multiple stores resulted in pricing wars, with consumers benefiting from price drops. To this day, sellers still employ this; notice how stalls near each other more often than not carry the same price for the same product. However, retailers weren’t as happy as the buyers, because they received a reduced profit margin whenever they marked down their prices and placed items on sale, but this setback was far better than experiencing a complete loss.
It seemed like consumerism was keeping pace with production in the 1970s and 1980s, with the development of mega malls and specialty stores that served niche markets, including those geared towards children and their parents who had the purchasing power. Consumers started taking note of sale days, marking them down on their calendars, and clipping coupons. New and innovative products, such as the Speak and Spell and the Nintendo Entertainment System bundled with a moving robot, reached store shelves and neatly addressed the changing needs of the consumer.
At that time, products were manufactured to specifically meet the different wants of that generation including the desire to be fit, the need to acquire the latest gadget or fad, and the pressure to look like their celebrity idols. People waited in lines whenever midyear sales were held in malls, eagerly awaiting restocks of items that sold out fast and price slashes advertised throughout malls. Everybody looked forward to these sales as they were widely known as that time of the year when practically everything was sold at drastically reduced prices.
Eventually, new ways of shopping entered the scene. Although present as early as the 1980s, shopping via television grew even more popular, finally penetrating the Philippine cable channels in the 1990s. Initially focusing on gym equipment, health products, and various kitchen tools and appliances, home TV shopping channels expanded to include toys, gadgets, and even sleeping aids.
Second and third-tier celebrities, credible professionals, and up-and-coming young personalities that seemed highly relatable were tapped to conduct infomercials to hook viewers into ordering via phone. They also utilized the tactic of offering limited freebies that were available only if you called right away. This new mode of shopping may be considered a precursor to ordering online via the e-commerce businesses of today.
Ordering via the phone shattered the preconceived notion that a product must be physically touched, held, and seen before even considering buying it. Although returns were possible, callers still had to experience the hassle of having it approved. They risked the possibility of receiving a broken item, a mismatch in color expectations, and even an incorrect estimation of size despite the full disclosure of measurements on their TV screens. Unfortunately, even though they offered discounts and bundles with freebies, their low prices were still no match for the midyear sales conducted by traditional stores.
That changed, however, when e-commerce businesses popped up shortly after the Internet became more accessible to users in different countries. They started holding midyear sales online with price drops that were competitive with their brick and mortar stores (or complimentary with their physical counterparts), and when popular sites such as Shopee and Lazada followed suit, more people opted to do their shopping online instead.
Consumers eagerly awaited these midyear sales online as the prices of products really went down. For many, midyear sales are considered a win, and people really are willing to wait months if it is guaranteed that delaying gratification will translate into bigger discounts – and often, it is.
But what about the store owners of these e-commerce businesses? Are they excited as well? What goes on within?
A Peek Behind the Curtain
Some e-commerce owners continue to struggle with the shift to online selling, particularly those who were forced into it due to the pandemic and subsequent lockdowns. While e-commerce sites provide support through their FAQ seller pages, it’s still an altogether different and more challenging experience when sellers actually go through the process of managing an online store.
Used to the traditional way of making a sale, some store owners use outdated sales methodologies anchored on old marketing principles, akin to the stereotypical used-car salesman of decades past. Additionally, not all sellers are proficient with technology, including the use of online ads and data mining for targeted marketing. If as a seller, you feel like this resonates with you, check out our basic guide detailing quick steps for online selling. This might help smoothen your transition.
Midyear sales make it even more difficult for sellers, as both demand and traffic are higher with less room for mistakes. The expectation is that products would still arrive in a timely manner, and the busy midyear sale season is never an acceptable excuse for delays. Sellers need to study and check if participating in the midyear sales is worth it as they might lack the resources to do so. Hopefully, they realize that in the long run, joining the midyear sales will still be a sound idea, especially if they prepare for it.
There are many ways for e-commerce businesses to succeed in these midyear sales. First, try to forecast demand by focusing on an ordinary, non-sale period. Even without any analytics background, you can achieve this by listening to your customers. Solicit feedback regularly and be ready to accept them with the end goal of working on improving both products and systems. Our egos might be hurt, especially during instances when we realize that some of the products that we offer are broken or marketed improperly or maybe don’t even work at all, but there isn’t any room for self-improvement if we don’t take these criticisms seriously.
Talk to customers via chat or in-person and establish a connection to encourage the buyer to be forthcoming and honest with feedback. Always ask “why” and “how.” Doing all this will limit overstocking on your part, and you can focus on using loss leaders as your sale items instead of excess stocks.
Second, package your products in bundles. Identify which ones sell and partner them with those that don’t. During midyear sales, people are expecting value for money, and the common practice of putting together items that don’t sell will just damage your store’s reputation. Rearrange stocks on shelves and rebrand plus repackage as needed, but don’t oversell.
For example, if you’re giving away slow-movers as freebies, choose items that are exclusive, limited, and worth having. Everybody loves free stuff, but nobody wants worthless items repackaged as valuable. Don’t be the store known for giving away free trinkets that people won’t even want to accept.
Third, give incentives for customers who buy more. These can be on-the-spot discounts on their current orders or future discounts for their next order. One way to implement this is to increase the total discount you’re offering a customer depending on how much one spends during midyear sales. This is especially effective if a buyer is just off by a few pesos before reaching the next discount bracket, and this could be the encouragement that a buyer needs to continue browsing and eventually reconsider, purchasing other items in your store to reach that set amount.
Finally, don’t forget to promote all of your midyear sale offerings. This is what many sellers often forget. During the midyear sale, consumers are often overwhelmed with all the great deals coming from all around, so devise a way to concisely and completely describe all your sales. Think of it as a cheat sheet that leads to your other pages where the details and mechanics could be fleshed out. Let this be the highlight of your store for the duration of the midyear sale. This might take the form of an infographic or a Canva creation, but be sure not to clutter it with too much information. Instead, embed links within the image.
Learn and Grow With Your Business
While an online store may survive just by posting pictures of their products on their stores and waiting for prospective buyers, it won’t be the best way of maximizing the resources offered by e-commerce sites. That may be all right during ordinary days, but when the midyear sales begin, fulfillment in a timely manner might become even more difficult. A lack of manpower alone will definitely delay much of a seller’s operations. Besides using e-commerce tools, other options to address this include looking into automating many of the repetitive tasks and operations as well as the actual workflow.
As your business grows and scales, continue to grow as well by learning more about e-commerce platforms. Your store will always be a work-in-progress, continuously evolving. There are many resources online, both paid and free, that can give you more insights on how to run a store online. Tap people you know in the industry and absorb whatever knowledge that they can impart. Read, read, and read. Invest in knowing more so that you can truly launch your e-commerce business successfully, without sacrificing your participation in sales events. Leverage properly, as midyear sales will often be good for your e-commerce business.