How to Prep for the 2020 Holiday Shopping Season

Carrie H. Ritchie
November 16, 2020
What will a quarantine holiday mean for holiday shopping? We’re betting on a big year for e-commerce, and we’ve got big ideas for you.

Today marks five years since we’ve been in 2020...amirite? Oof, what a year! At Good & Gold, it’s hard not to look at the year through the lens of digital marketing, and what it’s meant for our clients and the larger online landscape. There’s plenty to chew on, and we are constantly having conversations with both clients and colleagues about the e-commerce landscape and its surprising trends, twists, and turns.

As we step into November, we thought we’d compile some interesting facts as well as our best advice for taking advantage of what will no doubt be the most digital holiday season ever. Spoiler alert: There is plenty of opportunity ahead.

The Facts

1. Less holiday travel means more holiday spending.

Let’s face it: Most households will be staying put this holiday season to keep themselves and their loved-ones safe. This is bad news for families hoping to gather with their nearest and dearest, but good news for retailers—that’s quite a bit of household budget freed up for online spending.

2. Consumers will be getting their shopping done early. 

In a survey from the National Retail Federation, 78% of respondents indicated they would be shopping earlier than usual this year. Meanwhile major brands are pushing their holiday sales to earlier and earlier start dates. In other words, expect the floodgates of digital sales and promotions to open by mid-November.

3. While holiday retail in general will only grow 1% this year (as opposed to a trending 4% YOY increase in years past), e-commerce sales will grow by 25-35%.

Indeed, one in three U.S. consumers reported shopping online at least daily (34%) and one in five (19%) said they shop online multiple times per day, according to Vertebrae’s consumer survey. For e-commerce brands, this dramatic shift online presents huge opportunities to build and maintain market share.

Holiday Retail Sales Numbers (Source: Deloitte)

2017: $948 billion / 2018: $971 billion / 2019: $1007 billion / 2020: $1150 billion 

4. 66% of people will shop more with local/small businesses than national brands.

67% of shoppers said they plan to confirm online that an item is in stock before going to buy it, which underscores the importance of accurate inventory information. Plus, searches for “available near me” have grown globally by more than 100% since last year (Source: Think With Google)

5. There will be new online shoppers.

It won’t just be your traditional online shopping pros taking advantage of e-commerce this year—9% of all online holiday shoppers will be brand-new online shoppers. (Source: Adobe)

6. Speed matters.

Recent studies have shown the following: A one-second delay in a site’s load time can have a negative 20% impact on conversion rates. Slow-loading sites cost businesses up to $1.4 trillion annually. And 21% of people abandon their shopping cart because checkout took too long. (Source: Facebook)

The Tips & Takeaways

How to prepare for the approaching onslaught of digital holiday shoppers? We have no shortage of ideas…

Start early.

Get a jump on your email campaigns and promotions now! “Mega-sale day” shoppers (think Black Friday) are 73% more likely to be high spenders, but this year, you can assume that spending will be spread over a longer period of time. Create your own mega-sales days and share them with your audience.

Keep it tight.

Consumers expect their shopping experience to be fast, seamless, and hassle-free. So review your website performance and accessibility and make the improvements necessary to guarantee that experience. Additionally, if you haven't either rolled shipping costs into your sales price or started using free shipping as leverage to boost order values, consider this your hot tip. According to Shopify, 50% of abandoned carts are due to taxes and shipping costs. Don’t let that be you.

Focus on mobile.

According to Adobe, 42% of all online sales in 2020 were made on mobile devices—a 55% increase from 2019. While traffic, average order value, and total sales from mobile are rising, e-commerce conversion rates on mobile are still about half what they are on desktop. Making sure your site is mobile-friendly, with a streamlined checkout process, is an excellent way to give yourself a competitive advantage over your competitors.

Invest in paid media.

Now is a great time to invest in both branded and non-branded terms on paid search channels like Google. A solid paid search strategy will ensure that your business is easily discoverable by people shopping for presents online, whether they are already brand loyalists or they’re just searching for specific products.

Reach your local shoppers.

This is a big one, so we’re bulleting it out for you:

Target the boomers.

Surprisingly, Baby Boomers have been adopting mobile online shopping at a faster rate than any other group—that’s right, faster than skeptical Millennials or Gen Z! However, reaching Boomers will require a broader approach to targeting.

We suggest taking advantage of both Facebook and Google Ads’ advanced targeting options and segment messaging to different age groups. Older users tend to prefer more information up front, such as assurance a product is in stock, as well as a clear understanding of delivery options before clicking through to purchase.

Create a community.

Now is also a great time to launch a loyalty and referral program, which will give your holiday-season customers (and their networks) great reasons to buy again. Though Q1 is historically snubbed by the economy, a great rewards program will help keep customers in your sales pipeline in early 2021.

In Conclusion...

While many businesses have been lucky enough to weather the financial storm of 2020, a strong 4th quarter is essential. Luckily, many of the factors making life feel downright difficult right now are also the ones encouraging online shopping, especially over the holidays. And you can rest assured that the giants of online retail (Google, Facebook, Shopify, Amazon, etc.) are doing everything they can to connect you with your customers this season.

If you need help executing on any of the ideas up above, give us a shout. We are here to make your holiday season merry and bright.

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