For many merchants, the holiday season is a make-or-break opportunity. Online sales in November and December during the 2020 holiday season were historic. Global retailers saw two years’ worth of eCommerce growth1 in just one holiday cycle. This year, holiday forecasts from different firms have predicted a sharp jump in year-over-year spending with sales being expected to grow 7% compared to a year ago and reach $800 billion USD2. In the U.S. alone, the total holiday and online sales is predicted to exceed the record levels seen last year3, signaling that seasonal shopping continues to be a never-resting trend globally. The universal appeal of discounts and a strong gift-giving impulse continue to be relevant to price-conscious shoppers.
At the same time, digital transformation accelerated by the pandemic has influenced shopping behaviors, while driving up consumer demand and their desire for relative normalcy. According to a recent whitepaper from Euromonitor, eCommerce sales in the Asia Pacific region are expected to nearly double by 2025, reaching USD 2 trillion.4 With year-end approaching, it’s now time for merchants to get ready to respond to consumer needs and capture growth opportunities.
Knowing The Holiday Shoppers
There are a couple of predictions that we have for this year’s holiday season. Ecommerce will continue to stay strong as the seeds of consumer confidence continue to grow. The average online shopper’s intent to further increase their online spend is at least twice as high as any intent to pull back5. This is also accompanied by the increasing adoption of digital payment across a wider demographic. For example, in Singapore, seniors have been among the fastest to switch to online banking services.6
As more shoppers head online, new behaviors have also emerged. Product shortages, budget constraints and safety concerns have made consumers far more willing to try new brands and new ways of shopping. Digital and omnichannel options give them the flexibility that they need.
The holiday season is also starting earlier, giving businesses a wider timeframe to capitalize upon. This year, China recorded around $139 billion of sales across key eCommerce platforms during Singles Day, setting a new record for one of the world’s largest annual shopping events7. Black Friday also continues to be a major global retail event and the number-two occasion for seasonal online shopping among markets surveyed by PayPal earlier4. Not to mention the other festivals that are approaching this month and early next year, such as Christmas and Chinese New Year, extending the shopping season period.
Making Online Customers Merry
With the end-of-year shopping season around the corner, competition for consumers’ share of wallet is high. With so many merchants racing to be the first to corner the gift-buying market, how can retailers stand out during this competitive holiday period and avoid disappointing their customers? Here are five tips to help you get it right.
- Maximize Sales and Reduce Cart Abandonment by Removing Friction from Sites – Every click and touchpoint from the initial visit through checkout should be purposeful and easy. For every one second delay, conversion drops by 7%8. Companies need to ensure that customers are able to pay without slowing things down. They should also make sure that their sites load quickly, navigation is intuitive and mobile-friendly. Additionally, customers should have the option to checkout without creating an account.
- Align Inventory Planning with Post-Pandemic Shopping Trends – Understanding shoppers’ preferences is going to be critical with all the shifts in the categories of consumer spend. Companies should consider leveraging statistics such as demographic information, purchase history, site traffic, sales and conversion rates to understand their consumers’ needs and how they shop.
- Engage Customers with Personalized Holiday Incentives – Promotions and incentives during this period of time can help businesses keep customers from seeking alternatives. Merchants can personalize offers using strong customer insights, and tailor product recommendations to retarget customers who have visited their sites.
- Ramp Up Customer Support – Ensure you have the people and tools to provide sufficient support for customers throughout the purchase process. Automation such as chatbots can help address growing holiday support demands without putting too much pressure on staff.
- Stay Ahead of Fraudsters – Fraudulent activities tend to increase during the holiday season. Businesses need to protect their profits by minimizing claims, chargebacks, and prevent fraudulent claims. KicksCrew, an online sneaker store from Hong Kong, highlighted the importance of having a reliable payment platform, which balances security and optimizes the overall customer experience during this important time of the year.
The shift to online sales continues and we are seeing projections that suggest another bumper sales season. It is now time to review your strategies to give your customers the shopping experience and products they want and capitalize on this sales period.
Download our “Ready for the Holidays” eBook and learn more details about the five tips to prepare your business for the holidays.
1 CNBC, October 2020. https://www.cnbc.com/2020/10/28/online-holiday-sales-to-surge-33percent-to-189-billion-adobe.html
2 CNBC, Sep 14, 2021. https://www.cnbc.com/2021/09/14/holiday-shopping-2021-early-predictions-call-for-fewer-deals-delays.html
3 Ipsos 2021 Shopping Expectations. https://www.ipsos.com/sites/default/files/ct/publication/documents/2021-09/21-09-51_HolShop_v6_0.pdf
4 Euromonitor International, Top 100 Retailers in Asia 2021, May 2021
5 PayPal 2021 Borderless Commerce Report
6 SPG Global, May 2020. https://www.spglobal.com/marketintelligence/en/news-insights/latest-news-headlines/seniors-lead-digital-adoption-rates-in-singapore-as-virus-disrupts-normal-life-58446160
7 CNBC, November 2021. https://www.cnbc.com/2021/11/12/china-singles-day-2021-alibaba-jd-hit-record-139-billion-of-sales.html
8 Trinity, Page Speed and Decreased Conversion Rates: 2019 Statistics, 2019.