Online sales were always going to be on the rise in 2020, but with a global pandemic finding a renewed foothold in the US as we hit peak holiday shopping, it’s going to explode.
Are you ready?
Normally, businesses use Black Friday as an official starting line. Retailers like Walmart, Amazon, and Best Buy offer sneak peeks at discounts to entire shoppers off the couch and into stores. This year, however, consumers have no appetite for big crowds, but with every intention of spending. That’s going to put online retailers to the test. And it’s already started.
The pandemic has changed shopping habits since the first lockdowns began way back in March, and with those new habits firmly entrenched by October, November, and into December, retailers are at least geared up and prepared for the rush. Deloitte has predicted that while there is plenty of economic hardship in the US, there’s a strong urge to get back to something like normal. For many, that includes shopping for friends and family, even if those gift exchanges are direct shipping or dropping presents on porches. Their numbers predict a 1.5% rise in retail sales, but that rise won’t be evenly distributed. Deloitte and Forrester have offered up eCommerce increases ranging from 15-18.5% this year, not in spite of the pandemic, but because of it.
It’s equally no surprise that what we’re buying will change, too. With fewer family gatherings and parties, the shopping list is shorter than usual. With a bit of money left over, watch for more consumers treating themselves this holiday season, with a big focus on products for around the home. Consumer electronics, loungewear, smart speakers like Amazon’s Alexa or Google’s Nest, plus holiday decorations should all be up markedly over previous seasons. We’re also expecting to see more appliance upgrades in 2020, with manufacturers like GE and Kitchen-Aid finally getting the kinks out of their supply chains. More time at home and more meals at home means a renewed emphasis on the kitchen; expect to see plenty of delivery trucks on the roads over the next two months.
Nearly all of those products are easily available online, and that’s where most shoppers are planning to spend. A recent survey found that 62% of American shoppers plan to make their holiday purchases exclusively online this year; that spirit should see eCommerce sales up by 25% in 2020, just a year after improving by 17.5% last year.
How Retailers Can Improve Sales
A strong digital presence is a great equalizer. According to studies, most consumers are frustrated by impersonal advertising, especially by email. They’re looking for personalized offers and content to keep marketers out of their inboxes unless those brands have something useful to offer. We’ve been using tags and robust A/B testing to funnel offers to the right customers based on previous purchases and tracking where those shoppers came from initially. The most annoying faux pas seems to be getting email offers on items shoppers have already purchased, with 34% of respondents calling this “Very Frustrating”. Emails about irrelevant products, or failing to recognize them as repeat customers also made the top of the list.
Heading into a make-or-break holiday season, we’re working with clients to create that personal, conversational touch that will give your customers the confidence that they’re understood and appreciated. That’s something that needs to be incorporated across marketing mediums, and that’s what we do best.