Holiday Season 2021: The Biggest Ever for eCommerce

Holiday Season 2021: The Biggest Ever for eCommerce!

The holiday season is undoubtedly the most important time of year for eCommerce merchants. Sales from Cyber 5 (the five days between Thanksgiving to Cyber Monday) grow steadily year over year, with Cyber Monday 2020 breaking records to become the biggest online shopping day ever, up 20% from the year before.

In the context of a pandemic and global lockdown, experts predict holiday spending this year will be even higher. People are spending record amounts of time online and 50% of adults in the United States already admitted to increasing their online shopping. 

Will this holiday season be the biggest one ever for eCommerce? And how will the global supply chain crisis impact online retailers? Let’s take a look in a bit more detail.

Weather the Supply Chain and Shipping Storm Crisis Ahead

While demand for online goods remains high, increased supply chain costs and delayed delivery times point to a shipping crisis set to further test the operational resilience of retailers everywhere. 

With shipping rates increasing by as much as 480% in the last year, retailers are bound to see the rise in costs negatively impact already tight profit margins. While some companies have traditionally been able to swallow fluctuating operational costs, many will now be forced to pass them on to their customers.

More importantly in an industry where your brand is only as good as its reputation, delivery delays are likely to disappoint eCommerce consumers. Failure to meet customer demands for instant gratification are likely to lead to lost sales and negative reviews.

Weathering this shipping crisis is entirely possible with a proactive approach to managing stock, profit margins, and customer expectations.

Using fit for purpose eCommerce tools like eDesk will help your brand weather this shipping crisis storm. Our experts are here to advise you so, take a proactive approach and get in touch with our team.

Discounts are still a good idea

Here’s the best news of all. Shoppers don’t appear to be entirely motivated by discounts. Of course, that doesn’t mean you should forego them in the holiday season. 

Discounts and promotions consistently remain at the top of shoppers’ holiday wish lists. 42% of 2019’s holiday shoppers made their purchases based on price, and 24% never pay full price online. 

Shopping behavior
Shoppers in the 2019 holiday season were very price sensitive.

Online merchants can cater to these customers by discounting their best-selling items. For those who sell on Amazon, an automatic repricing tool like Repricer.com will ensure your pricing is always set at the optimal level to win the the Buy Box and sell more while maintaining maximum profitability.

Shoppers shift from brick-and-mortar to online

When the pandemic first began to spread, shoppers flocked to online stores and that behaviour has become the new normal.

What’s particularly exciting about the data, is that the reopening of brick-and-mortars has yet to make a dent in eCommerce sales.

In fact, the majority of consumers report shopping less in brick-and-mortar stores, and spending more time shopping online as they appreciate the convenience. And they plan to keep doing so, with many planning to shop early in a bid to overcome difficulties associated with a disrupted supply chain.

Certain products are experiencing explosive growth!

Clearly, 2021’s eCommerce holiday season is going to be busy. It’s also going to look very different. The most notable difference will be in what products sell best in the face of predicted shortages

Essentials have stayed popular, including products that shoppers previously preferred to buy in-person, such as food and beverage items. Household goods, toys and electronics are all reliably hot product categories. 

When preparing your store for the holiday season, consider how you expand your product lines, or adjust your marketing spend towards the products most likely to be top-sellers this holiday season. Think about how your products can enhance the hybrid work-at-home/life-at-home experience for your shoppers and their gift recipients.

No time to pivot your product line? No problem. According to research from Bazaarvoice, nearly every product category continues to enjoy the global eCommerce lift from COVID-19.

A return to the traditional

The trend of gifting experiences, like travel and entertainment, declined last year, but this year’s stock shortages mean the trend is not likely to stay. Happily for eCommerce merchants, last year’s shift to traditional and local will move to their at home experiences as buyers seek to make up for what they missed out on last year. 

Home decor is hot right now so we can expect to see that translated into the holidays as the appetite for lighting, table scaping and design-led statements shows no sign of decline. For e-retailers, that means more orders for your store, whether you sell stocking stuffers or big-ticket items.

Holiday sales can happen anywhere

Shoppers continue to spend more time online, browsing, shopping, and engaging on social media. And the more time they spend online, the more places they’ll be shopping online. 

Shopify reports that younger shoppers especially are embracing social media channels as they seek out independent suppliers with more green credentials and convenient ways to pay. More established brands need to recognise these channels and key factors to success as they adapt their strategy to accommodate increasingly sophisticated and discerning buyers.

This year’s holidays start in October

The biggest reason the holiday season will be the busiest for eCommerce ever is surprisingly straightforward. It will be the longest one yet.

Typically, the Cyber 5 weekend makes up a major portion of holiday eCommerce sales, with additional sales healthily trickling in through the rest of December and Boxing Day. 

In an effort to avoid shipping delays and dreaded out-of-stock notifications, many retailers are starting their holiday sales much earlier. Retailers like Target are “stretching out the savings” and offering holiday discounts as early as October

How can sellers sustain demand during an extended holiday season? By changing up their promotions on a regular basis. 

Final thoughts

2021 is going to be a bumper year for eCommerce holiday sales. The sooner you’re ready, the better. Stock up on products, coordinate with your carriers, and ensure you’re set up for success with the best eCommerce help desk software.

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