The 21st Century economy is proving to be as fickle as it is volatile with the very serious risk of declining sales and economic slowdowns seemingly always on the horizon. Business owners of every stripe, scale and industry need to be smart about positioning themselves for short-term success as well as long-term planning to insulate themselves in the event of a market decline.

Of course, eCommerce is increasingly hot and one of the best ways for a retailer with limited brick-and-mortar locations to get their goods out to a larger target market base. This calls for a sound foundation of eCommerce strategies, as well as some simple things you can do to keep your eCommerce sales as hot as possible for the given market environment.

In this article, we’ll take a closer look at the things that increase your chances of eCommerce success in any market conditions, as well as strategies you can use to maximize your online sales in the event of an economic downturn.

How An Economic Downturn Affects eCommerce Sales

Anytime there’s a recession or any other type of economic downturn consumers tend to save more to protect themselves from delinquent bills. This includes online sales which drive up eCommerce competition.

This naturally leads to online retailers and suppliers adjusting their prices to try to make up for decreased sales. These swings can be wild during times when inflation is high. Though it’s also possible for decreased interest rates or high loan requirements, it also makes it very difficult to borrow money for general spending.

Yet of all the various forms of retail sales, a well-positioned eCommerce retailer has the best chances for success. This is thanks to the relatively low overhead costs that eCommerce retailers carry, compared to their brick-and-mortar competitors.

At the same time, a lot of consumers stay at home or close to home during an economic downturn. Preferring instead to shop online through their favorite eCommerce platforms.

So, while eCommerce is likely to face less of a hit during a recession or tough economic times, the competition in the online sales arena is bound to go up!

Prioritize Resilient Suppliers

In an economic downturn, retail suppliers in every industry are stressed to meet demands and find the materials they need to produce the goods they sell. Of course, if they can’t make it, you can’t sell it. So, do your best to vet your current suppliers to determine their economic health and continued ability to perform. Then also put in the due diligence to investigate other potential suppliers who might be better set up to weather the economic storm.

Prioritize Popular Products

When vetting your supply chain, also take the time to consider your most popular eCommerce items. If you have a popular selling item that your best supplier has in stock, but your vetting efforts show that they might be in troubled waters, you might need to make a strategic decision.

Contact the supplier to see if they will offer you a per-unit discount if you buy a higher-than-usual volume. Usually, they will, as they need the capital to stay alive. Then you might be able to also put the popular product on a short-term or flash sale.

Streamline Your Product Line

When times are booming, it feels nice to offer an extensive product line with a massive inventory. During an economic downtown eCommerce retailers need to prune down their product line to their best-selling, most popular items.

Not only does this reduce your overhead costs, but it also helps keep your best-selling items flowing. This boosts consumer confidence that you will still be offering those products tomorrow, keeping existing customers fiercely loyal.

Make the Most Out of Landing Pages & Email Marketing

During an economic downturn, consumers are hungry for deals and exclusive promotions. They become more likely than ever to sign up for the chance at a good deal or a handy freebie. By optimizing your landing page promotions, newsletter signups, and maximizing your email marketing efforts you increase your chances of drawing in new customers.

You also increase the chances of re-engaging past customers whose sales may have gone cold in recent months. Not to mention giving you a leg up on your closest industry competitors. This is a great way to tap into per-unit discounts you might have negotiated with your resilient suppliers on some of your more popular-selling items.

Vet & Streamline Your Delivery System

Delivery is one of the biggest overhead costs borne by many eCommerce retailers. Partnering with the most resilient delivery companies, with the best possible delivery times ensures that your customers are getting the products they want, without the kind of delays that might send them looking elsewhere.

If possible, try to make use of just one delivery carrier. In a perfect world, they will also offer some type of fulfillment distribution service for a discounted rate if you sign a contract.

Perform Regular Inventory Audits

During an economic downturn, resilient eCommerce retailers need to stay on top of their physical inventory. This helps you to better assess which products you already have enough. Then you can better determine what things need to be created or reordered while avoiding an accidental surplus.

Chances are you might find the existing product in stock, but it’s not selling like you want. There might also be products taking up inventory space that isn’t 100% worth the return on investment. In one of these scenarios, you might want to consider a flash sale promoted via your landing pages or your email marketing efforts.

Make the Most Out of Seasonal Sales

If you have excess inventory near the end of a season, consider offering it as part of a flash sale or a landing page sign-up promotion. Not only will this free up your inventory space, but it can also serve as an opportunity to connect with more potential customers for the incoming seasonal sales.

A customer might sign up for a seasonal clearance item sale on a landing page. Then a few weeks later, you include them in an email marketing message to let them know about a hot, new item for the upcoming season.


Economic downturns are certainly stressful and can threaten the vigorous growth of any business in any sector. Though with wise streamlining practices and making sure you are partnered with the right suppliers, fulfillment, and delivery entities, you increase your chances of weathering the storm.

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