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Slowdowns and Slumps - When to freakout, When to take action, and What to do about it - Etsy Stats

This week I am talking about Slumps and Slowdowns ... how to know if you are really in a slump or slowdown, when to freak out, and what to do about it!

Today is all about analyzing stats.  Over and over I have witnessed people freaking out about slowdowns because their stats are down from a day ago, a week ago, and a month ago ... but just this is not enough information to know if you are really experiencing a slowdown.  Retail sales are cyclical, and you need to know your cycles.  If you cannot deal with the natural cycles in your business, then you need to develop a new product line that will work opposite those cycles in your current business.  Trying to even out cycles in your current business is much harder than creating a product line that you market to a different market to fill in slow cycles.  Also note, that cycles in business will fluctuate year to year, and your sales should be increasing during these cycles year to year.  Although as your business grows, you may also find that cycles are more pronounced.  So, if you sell wedding items and your busy season is April-June, your sales may increase at a much higher rate for those months as opposed to your slow months.  You should not expect your sales to increase on a day to day basis, week to week basis, or even month to month basis.  Your sales should be increasing when comparing January to January, spring to spring, November to November.  You should not expect your sales for June to be similar to January.

You also need to note major changes in your life and business.  For instance, I basically closed my shop for 6 months in both 2016 and 2018.  So, the data that I am gathering for stats is going to be crazy and all over the place, and very difficult to compare to previous years.  However, I should still notice trends, and I still analyze data against other factors.  I do not expect to immediately jump back to the sales rates that I was at before these closures.  However, the way that I analyze sales data as a person who has been in business since 2005 is the same as what I would recommend for someone just opening a new shop.

I use the calendar method to track my stats, I've used both a written calendar and a massive excel spreadsheet.  I'll explain why I use this method now.  I am currently using a calendar like this to track my stats

I write the month/year at the top of the page and fill in the dates in each block.  This page is set up to be printed out as 8.5x11 inch paper and then cut in half to bind into a book.  The binding is not necessary, it is just how I have it set up for my own records.  Each morning I fill in the stats for the day before.  If I miss a day, I simply fill it in.  In each block I write, views, sales/$$, renewals, and listings.  I also note the number of orders I shipped that day and when my outstanding orders are at zero.  In the block at the end of the week, I write the top key words that were searched, and any colors or patterns that were searched.  The bottom is to note major things like if I turned on or off promoted listings, if I had a promotion and what the promotion was, major events like vacations or sicknesses, and the top phrases searched for the month.  I also note the top referring sites and google visits.  It takes me about 2 minutes each morning, 2 additional minutes once per week, and 2 additional minutes once per month to just record.  Analyzing is something I do once a month and takes me about 10 minutes.  The back sides of my calendar pages are blank, and I use that space for planning and list writing for the up coming months.  I make sure to check off the ones that I did, and make note of the items that I didn't get to for future reference.  Having these records has made future planning easy and saved me lots of time trying to remember what I did, and did not do, when
planning for the future of my shop.

What do I do with this data?  The first thing I do in my monthly analyzing is compare the current month to the same month in years past.  I also make goals for the next month based on my activity ... such as, it has been a while since I added new listings, and I really need to focus on that.  I also compare my activity for the previous month and see if the trend is the same from month to month in previous years.  So, right now, I am not really freaking out about the slowness of July, because I know that June, July, and August are typically the slowest months of the year for my shop.  These are my vacation months, the months to build stock, the months to work on SEO and look for trends coming up.  I also plan for the month ahead, for instance I know that back to school shopping is around the corner, so making sure things are tagged for the searches that were popular for August in previous years is noted, building stock, and changing them for current styles and pattern trends is essential.  You may consider having a sale for those items and start talking about them on social media before your competition to get your customers thinking about future purchases.

Slow months are essential for my shop to grow and taking vacation during slow months does not kill my shop momentum.  For instance, there have been a couple of years where we took family vacations at Thanksgiving, and every year that has been a killer for my shop during the busiest months of the year.  As a family, we really try to avoid vacationing during that time because we know that my shop provides money for holiday shopping and we don't have to pull that money out of savings.  I also know that my shop naturally slows down about a week before Christmas, so it would be feasible to take a vacation at that time if we needed to visit out of state family.  Taking family vacations in June, July, and August are ideal though, and there is no visible disruption for my shop momentum when we vacation those months. 

When to worry?  When you analyze your shop using the calendar method, you can see and take steps to prevent a downward trend.  So, if you have notice that each month for 3 months is trending downward from the previous year, it is time to act.  You need to note what you are doing differently?  Did you add a new product line the year before?  Maybe it is time to get working on a new one for this year!  Where you featured somewhere?  If so, maybe it is time to start advertising or putting your products in front of influencers for another feature!  Have you changed a renewal strategy or your promoted listings?  Have you been keeping up with site and SEO changes?  Being honest with yourself about what you are doing or not doing for your shop is the most important thing when analyzing your stats.  You cannot expect your growth to be the same as other shops or your competitors, because you do not know their data and what they are doing behind the scenes. 

There are also other benefits to keeping up with your stats using the calendar method.  You are able to easily see if there is a day of the week that you naturally have more views and more sales.  So, when you want to launch a new product you can pick the day that it will get seen the most or list it the day before so you can take advantage of those natural highs.  You can also see trends on the day of the week that you get the most sales, which may help you to streamline work and shipping tasks. 

A lot of people spend a lot of time looking at Etsy and Google stats, but they fail to record them and know the trends of their shops.  There is a lot of power when you track and make notes about your own activities and compare that to your data.  When you make notes about these things you can make decisions about your shop based on facts, and not emotions.   You may also find that there are things you are missing out on and start finding ways to take advantage of those things, such as key word phrases that people are not using to find your shop.

Feel free to use the calendar page above, I do not have the book listed in my shop, but if it is something you are interested in, feel free to write to me.  My current book holds 24 calendars, for 2 years of data, I can make them large enough to hold 5 years. 


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