June 18, 2018      3 min read

Many traditional and e-commerce businesses are seasonal, and this seasonality will affect different industries in different ways. Stock control is one of the biggest challenges that surges in demand and seasonality will place on a business and its inventory stock.

Seasonal demand fluctuations can also impact staffing, scheduling operations and more critically, cash flow. Consequently, individual businesses will adopt strategies to manage seasonality their own way. Many will employ casual or temporary staff to cope, a few will try to diversify product lines of inventory stock and others will simply close during their off-seasons.

The nature of a seasonal business means that much of the business revenue is generated at specific times of the year. Therefore, an effective solution to managing the highs and lows of seasonal demand is to offer seasonal pricing.

This not only helps with managing inventory stock but by charging different prices for goods and services you can maximise cashflow during periods of high demand. Equally, businesses can smooth demand by offering discounts and reduced rates to help sustain the business over slow seasons and periods of lesser demand.

Dynamic Pricing

Dynamic or surge pricing is a pricing strategy where businesses set flexible prices for products or service based on present market demands. It is common in the entertainment, hospitality and tourism industries where businesses charge higher prices during the peak periods like weekends, holiday periods and when special events are being held.

This dynamic pricing model uses algorithms that consider factors such as supply and demand, competitor pricing and other market influences. Based on the information algorithms provide, businesses can adjust prices accordingly.

Industry price benchmarking is another great way to ensure competitiveness. To get the greatest benefit from dynamic pricing, you need to continually monitor industry developments to maximise your pricing model and to get a clear picture of how your competitors’ prices fluctuate seasonally.

Remember that pricing can also become a touchpoint for consumers as they seek out the best bargains and seasonal deals during peak retail periods. The right pricing strategy should benefit the business by maximising profits during seasonal peaks but should also provide value to consumers and a great customer experience.

Yield Management

As pricing strategy that aims to maximise profits based on demand for a limited good or service, yield management is commonly practised by businesses such as accommodation providers and airlines. Prices go up in the high season and decrease in the low season.

Yield management pricing is based on the concept that consumers will pay higher prices when demand is high for a limited resource. When demand is low for that same limited resource, you may need to offer discounts and deals to encourage customers to purchase.

Common forms of yield management include:

  • Seasonal pricing, where businesses have three different pricing categories dependant on high, mid and low season demand
  • Weekly pricing promotions that offer specials on specific days of the week
  • Time of day pricing is used where an event or activity is more popular at certain times of the day
  • Last-minute deals for perishable items in the grocery store

Don’t be afraid to experiment

While larger profit margins may give businesses more room for seasonal price cuts, even small price reductions on inventory stock items with slim margins can have negative effect.

Repeatedly reducing prices during slow times may also guide customers to wait until they can make their purchases at the lower prices. This just shifts demand from high to low season, reducing profits and potentially damaging your brand image.

Price alone won’t necessarily attract greater sales, it’s the perceived value for the consumer that counts. Split test pricing and offers to get to know your customers pricing preferences and to understand what has the most appeal.

Experiment with pricing to determine how different consumers are affected at different seasons to help find the optimal price where customers feel like they got a value.

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