With the start of Q4 just a few months away, it’s not too early for e-commerce businesses to start thinking about how they’re positioned for holiday sales. Although economies are still in a state of post-pandemic flux and consumer behavior is evolving more rapidly than ever, there are plenty of trends and statistics we can draw from to make confident predictions about the forces that will drive e-commerce throughout 2021’s holiday season. Here are four factors every company should consider:
1. Overall E-Commerce Will Expand
The pandemic was a catalyst for increased e-commerce growth and led online shopping sites to receive more visits, higher conversions, and greater value per visit year over year. In a first, online spend exceeded $1 billion for every day of the two-month holiday shopping season. Supercharged by a few massive days including Cyber Monday, which saw $10 billion of online shopping, the average daily online spend rose above $3 billion.
Even though restrictions are relaxed in most places, making in-store shopping more feasible, it’s unlikely that businesses will see a drop-off in those numbers. Covid just accelerated existing trends in e-commerce, and as additional new users come online and digital natives make up an increasing percentage of consumers, online shopping is poised to steadily eclipse other forms.
2. Mobile Will Dominate Sales
Anyone reading this is likely to have used their phone to make some kind of e-commerce transaction at some point. What that means in the bigger picture is staggering, and statistics bear it out: Over $190 billion was spent using smartphones in 2020, and experts predict they’ll contribute to over half of all online spend by the end of 2022. Further proof: Almost four of every five smartphone owners have made a mobile purchase in the last six months!
The distinction between mobile and other forms of online shopping is an important one since customers’ e-commerce experience differs based on the type of device they’re using to shop. Offering online buying options is good. Offering a simple, frictionless purchasing experience designed for mobile users is even better.
MORE FOR YOU
MORE FOR YOU
3. Social Media Will Matter Even More
Instagram broke the 1 billion global user mark in 2020, and its Stories and Reels features both continue to offer brands the ability to easily leverage views into buys. Instagram is increasingly where buyers follow their favorite brands, learn about new products, and share buying choices with their friends and followers.
TikTok is an equally important piece of the social media puzzle, having experienced exponential growth throughout much of 2020. The platform is building relationships (like its partnership with Shopify) and features (like its dynamic catalog) that are making it a top choice for brands and marketers. If the app follows in the footsteps of the Chinese version (Douyin), it will soon be a major player in the e-commerce landscape.
Whether it’s on Instagram, TikTok, or other social media apps (“Shops” is Facebook’s new in-app e-commerce service) more people are buying what influencers and celebrities are advertising. Business owners who want to grow e-commerce sales should pay attention to these channels.
4. Convenient Customer Experience Will Win Out
Same-day shipping, buy online pick-up in-store (BOPIS), and other contactless shopping methods rose to extreme popularity in 2020 as in-person shopping was limited due to Covid restrictions. Amazon, Walmart, and Target all profited massively from the pandemic, largely due to their wide product offerings and seamless shopping options.
Retail giants like these aren’t the only ones able to capitalize on consumers’ interest in safer, more convenient shopping, though. Small businesses can do the same by offering features like personalized shopping, live chat, and flexible shipping.
2021 is already set to go down as the best year in history for e-commerce, and there’s more than enough to go around, especially during the holidays. The businesses who will profit most, though, are the ones willing to plan ahead, adjust operations as needed, and provide premium service to their customers. Expect a rush, prime your website for mobile viewing, embrace omnichannel marketing, and make sure you offer convenience at every turn. Is it too early to say “Happy Holidays to all?”