The weather has a significant impact on the lives of all of us, from how we feel to the changes in our schedules for work or free time. We expect the weather conditions to influence the propensity to buy and in particular eCommerce orders. Are the eShoppers to some extent “meteoropathic“?
To find it out, we crossed the data of +1.8 million orders managed on Qapla’ of a sample of more than 300 stores and the weather conditions of 5 Italian locations (Milan, Rome, Naples, Bari, and Turin) and 2 European capitals (Madrid and Paris), taken from Visual Crossing Corporation for the period between 01.04.2021 and 25.03.2022 (almost one year, to cover all seasonal variations). Other studies identified a connection between bad weather and online shopping: a RichRelevance study measured a difference between 10 and 12% of online orders in Seattle for home goods, clothing, and wholesale between clear and cloudy days.
Let’s discover together:
- How much varies the number of eCommerce orders to the weather changes
- Variation of average order value depending on weather changes
- Differences in consumers’ behaviour in different countries as the weather changes
- How to plan “weather-based” marketing strategies
How much varies the number of eCommerce orders to the weather changes
Bad weather could be expected to cause a reduction in outdoor activities and, therefore, to drive more people online and so on eCommerce websites almost everywhere. In addition, if you need something quickly it can be more inconvenient to reach physical stores, in case of bad weather, and online stores can offer a valid solution.
Our data about Italian cities confirm this hypothesis: when it’s rainy, online purchases tend to grow. However, there are significant differences in trends between different locations. Where consumers are more used to inclement weather, the influence will be lower. On the opposite, in those cities where the days of adverse weather in a year are relatively few during a year, it’s more likely that people buy online in those occasions. An analysis by Rakuten France likewise found a direct correlation between online sales and rainfall in Lyon and Marseille, but not in Paris, where residents don’t change habits despite the bad weather.
In Italy, from the data of orders monitored on Qapla’ we can deduce that as the weather conditions worsen – from “sunny” to “partially cloudy” and from “partially cloudy” to “rain” – the number of online purchases grows in Milan, Naples and Bari.
The percentage variation range with respect to the “sunny” condition is quite wide as the city changes:
- Milan: +1,7% orders when it’s “partially cloudy“, +3,9% orders with “rain with sunny spells” and +15,8% orders with “showers with clouds” (that here must be considered the worst condition as mapped by Visual Crossing Corporation)
- Naples: +3,3% orders when it’s “partially cloudy“, +16% orders with “rain with sunny spells” and +49,5% orders with “showers with clouds“
- Bari: +9,8% orders with “rain” (that includes “rain with sunny spells” and “showers with clouds“)
So, the trend seems to be the same in these cities, but bad weather in Naples corresponds to a greater increase in the number of sales.
In Turin, on the other hand, we notice an inverse relationship (like Paris compared to Lyon and Marseille in the research cited above): a partially cloudy sky coincides with an 8,4% general drop in the number of online purchases and rain with a decrease by almost 3%. Lastly, Rome combines the 2 trends: a 3,5% decline during partially cloudy days and a 9,8% boost in case of rain.
Here, we only make assumptions and look for behavioural patterns: we can identify some correlations but the cause-effect relationships are to be demonstrated.
Variation of average order value depending on weather changes
Should merchants and eCommerce professionals bless bad weather to the point of practicing a metaphorical “rain dance“? In addition to increasing the number of sales, does it contribute to the raise the average order value? With the support of our data, we studied this hypothetical correlation for the 5 mentioned Italian cities mentioned and for Madrid and Paris.
As you can see from the graph above, it seems that there’s no connection between the average order value and the weather conditions in the Italian cities. So in most Italian locations, consumers tend to buy more often from online stores on cloudy or rainy days, but the amount of expenditure remains more or less the same. This is a less “elastic” value compared to the total number of purchases, due to the dependence on the economic availabilities. Therefore, for the orders coming from some cities, a revenue increase is likely when the weather is worse, as a consequence of a greater number of sales and not of the amount spent by every singular customer. In Madrid and Paris, the situation is quite the same: the average order value is even lower by a few euros on the rainy days, as you see below:
Differences in consumers’ behaviour in different countries as the weather changes
ECommerce professionals are usually very conscious that habits and behaviours depend a lot on the buyers’ locations and that it’s necessary to localize the user experience on the website and the communication through the various channels. Just think of the products sold more in one country rather than another. The weather seems to have a different influence abroad than in the analyzed Italian cities.
Our sample include orders by residents in Madrid and Paris to stores that use Qapla’ in their after-sales process. In the Spanish capital, the number of purchases drops by 5% on the 91 rainy days of the year. For Paris, data about the different bad weather conditions are available. A “partially cloudy” sky coincides with almost 20% more orders compared to the sunny days but there is a 1,3% decrease on the 210 days of “rain“. However, if we consider only the days with “showers with clouds“ in Paris, then we can see a 12.4% rise. We can affirm that in the French capital moderate bad weather doesn’t affect the propensity to buy online, unlike the days with the worst conditions (we can ignore the “partially cloudy” days because there’re only 10 during the year). As told earlier, we can explain this trend with the “habit” of Parisian towards inclement weather conditions; but this reason doesn’t apply to Madrid where there have been 268 days of sun.
How to plan “weather-based” marketing strategies
Knowing and predicting the behavior of your buyer personas provides a significant competitive advantage. In order to have relevant and contextualized communication, marketers are aware of how important it is to connect not only to the rational but also to the emotional part of the audience. The weather certainly has an impact on consumer choices, even if it’s different from one location to another: according to “Weather Unlocked” it’s the most important influencing factor, second only to the economic trend. And this doesn’t just apply to items you can easily connect to temperature changes or rainfall, such as tanning creams, ice cream, umbrellas, and so on. We can see a correlation for all sectors.
Which “weather-based” marketing strategies can you set up to increase your eCommerce sales and/or improve the customer experience?
The main critical point is suiting them to the different locations of your potential customers. Let’s assume that this segmentation has been done correctly. Then, you can:
- make your website “weather-responsive”. You can use automations to highlight specific items or change the graphics on your homepage, for example (the platform WeatherAds provides such APIs). Editing few elements is often affects sales. Here’s a case study: the fast-fashion store Burton included a product recommendation based on weather conditions on the homepage and obtained a 11,6% increase in conversions.
- use emails, SMS or WhatsApp to send offers about items you experienced a higher demand under certain weather conditions. Timberland even sends weather forecast to propose some footwear for trekking or raincoats (as in the email on the side, taken from Weather Unlocked).
- adapt the advertising campaigns to the weather, from the choice of sponsored articles up to the copy and graphics adopted. Pantene identified a correlation between sales of some specific hair products and wet or dry climate conditions. By adjusting ads on these conditions, Pantene managed to achieve a 28% increase in sales.
- edit emails about deliveries and tracking pages with graphics and banners related to the current season. By using the editor available inside Qapla’, you can include promos or banners referring to items that sell more under certain weather conditions in tracking notifications or pages.
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