By Dan Pingree
Businesses large and small are feeling the effects of huge snowstorms sweeping into the Northeast.
For some, wintry weather is derailing activity creating disruption to northeastern seaports, airports and rail lines.
Other businesses more attuned to the vagaries of the seasons, however, such as Madison Heights, Michigan-based Moosejaw Mountaineering, thrive even when the weather turns wintery.
Weather normally has a temporary impact on the economy. For retail, however, the impact varies by segment. Thanks to weather forecasters, snowstorms are known days in advance. In many instances consumers rush out ahead of the storm to stock up on key supplies such as food, ice melt and more. Timing is everything.
Typically, a severe storm prevents consumers from shopping but are only a temporary drag on spending because they tend to pick back up with their shopping after the storm, once the cars are shoveled out and the streets are clear.
But for other retailers, lost sales in physical stores are not lost thanks to their ability to meet the needs of their customers online. Online retailers are enjoying sales spikes, as shoppers trade in their shovels for their smartphones and tablets and relax on the couch to check out the latest online sales and promotions.
Weather changes the way consumers spend. According to recent IBM Digital Benchmark data:
- During the February 2 storm, the Northeast accounted for nearly 25 percent of all online sales in the U.S. That’s represents nearly a 25 percent jump from January 26, which is the last non-snow Monday
- Just one week later during the February 9 storm, the Northeast accounted for just over 24 percent of all US sales. That’s an increase of close to 23 percent from January 26
Moosejaw Mountaineering understands the impact of harsh winters on business. As inclement weather increases, it has created a game plan to stay engaged with consumers who are snowed in or out enjoying what nature has wrought.
By combining marketing and technology, natural events are not a threat but an opportunity that allows them to maintain retail sales consistency across all its shopping channels, physical and virtual, and foster brand loyalty regardless of what the thermometer or barometer read.
Using analytics and social media, Moosejaw listens to what its customers are saying, by collecting data and analyze shopping behaviors. Loyal shoppers are encouraged to post pictures of their latest outdoor adventures with a Moosejaw flag sent with each order. This juiced social media presence uniquely engages consumers wherever they are with their smartphone to build Moosejaw’s following and brand awareness.
Moosejaw’s approach is simply one way to turn a fresh snowfall into a welcome windfall for retailers with an online presence. Instead of a hindrance, winter weather can provide a new opportunity to better engage and build a new relationship with consumers.