Over the next 50 days, most retail businesses in the US will experience their typical holiday season boon. What's going to be the hottest sellers this year? Answering that question requires some guessing, some trend analysis, and some experience. Of course there are always standard items that you sell year after year that you probably already have on order and stocked in the store.
Historical tracking on your website, specifically Google Analytics, can help to remind you what was popular last year, and the year before that. Tracking on one typical jewelry website showed a 21.59% increase in visitors from 2010 to the same period in 2011. There are several factors that attributed to the increase including the improving economy and that store's more active website.
Normally when you look at Google Analytics you are trying to figure out how to improve your search engine ranking and increase your sales. On the other hand, when you look through the historical data collected through the years, you can also see trends in sales, which makes Google Analytics not only a website tracking tool, but an important tool for your overall historical business research.
As an example, I took a peek into analytics of a single freestanding downtown store on the east coast from 2011 and 2010 to illustrate how this could work. Within Google Analytics I chose my date range to be November 1, 2011 - January 1, 2012 then selected the option to compare the data to the same period in the previous year.
Here are some of the things I found that had more popularity in the 2011 holiday season than in 2010:
"Christian Marriage Symbol"
"Pandora Holiday Ornament"
"Levian Chocolate Diamonds"
"Halo Engagement Ring"
Here are some of the things that were LESS popular in 2011 than in 2010:
and several "gold buying" type phrases
I then took a look at the analytics for the Valentine's Day period of January 1, 2011 - February 20, 2011 and compared that to 2010. These were the more popular phrases:
"Christian Marriage Symbol"
"Two tone Diamond Anniversary Bands"
Here are some of the things that were LESS popular during the Valentine's period in 2011 than in 2010:
several variations of "Pandora Valentines" type phrases
several variations of "gold buying" type phrases
Being able to review data like this allows you to see small changes in trends before they can be reported in the trade magazines. On October 16, 2012, I reported my findings that online interest in Pandora jewelry is declining, but individual analysis like this could have told you the same thing months ago.
It also looks like there's a decline in the number of people looking for jewelers who will buy their gold; again, a potential indicator that this is on the decline for some reason. In the stock market, there are traders that buy and sell stocks based on the trends they see without any care as to why the trends are happening.
Let these historical indicators in your own Google Analytics account help guide your business as well, and whatever you do, you should always maintain access to your Google Analytics account and this valuable historical data.
If you are planning a website upgrade you should make sure your Analytics account is transferred to the new site.