Trend Predictions for the 2018 Holiday Season
The second largest shopping event of the year, back-to-school shopping has become popular across eCommerce outlets. Though brick-and-mortar stores still rake in more money during this time, sales are starting to decrease while eCommerce shopping is becoming more mainstream.
In 2017, the NPD found that the eCommerce industry earned an additional $56.4 million than the previous year during back-to-school shopping season. The data from the first week of the 2018 shopping season seems to show the same trend, with eCommerce revenue up $1.1 million and brick-and-mortar stores down $1.3 million.
What does this mean for the holiday season? Most analysts assume that the boost in eCommerce sales will continue as more people embrace online shopping. Electronics and personal computers are major holiday season items, and this year is expected to be no different. With the ease of online shopping, most people choose to purchase large items over the internet, providing small to-medium-sized businesses (SMBs) with many opportunities to rein in new customers.
Amazon is one of the top sites people use to shop during the holidays, and thanks to SMBs, the site now makes up nearly 49 percent of the entire eCommerce industry. This year, consider joining the 300,000 SMBs using Amazon Marketplace to boost your holiday sales.
Last year, Halloween brought in $9.1 billion in holiday spending. Halloween shopping typically begins at the end of September, though the most popular time to shop is the first two weeks of October. Even though 62 percent of shoppers still want to be able to interact with the product before purchase, plenty of people will go online to shop for holiday supplies. If your eCommerce store plans to sell Halloween-related items, like costumes, candy or decorations, and you don’t already offer free shipping, you may want to consider this as a holiday promotion to pull in more traffic.
What started as a one-day event held on the Friday after Thanksgiving has grown into a weekend-long shopping extravaganza. Traditionally, Black Friday was a retail event that caused consumers to line up before sunrise to score unbelievable deals. Now, with the rise of the internet and eCommerce holiday shopping, this weekend is packed with both brick-and-mortar and online sales.
Year after year, large corporations like Walmart, Target and Best Buy have ruled this day sales-wise, but over the last decade, Amazon has also become one of the top outlets. Last year, they captured 54.9 percent of all online transactions on Black Friday. SMBs can capture some of the online shopping surge by preparing for the holiday in advance and using a combination of email and social media marketing to promote their deals. This year, eCommerce sales are predicted to spike once again as more people prefer to shop online instead of fighting the crowds in stores.
The Black Friday weekend has sparked another major selling day after the rise of the eCommerce industry—Cyber Monday. In some aspects, SMBs can gain an edge over larger corporations if they put certain strategies in place.
It’s always important to optimize your email marketing strategy, especially during the busy holiday season. Remember to take a personal approach and let the user data inform your marketing messaging. It’s also becoming more common to see the promotions extended for more than one day to capitalize on the momentum. Keep an eye on your revenue and feel free to adjust the offer to keep the momentum going.
It can be tough to adequately advertise two different sales so close together, so you can combine your holiday strategies. Alert your existing and potential consumers that you will offer special deals all weekend long. Then, give them a preview to get them excited for the holiday promotions.
Some of the most common perks offered during this week include free shipping, a percentage off all items or a percentage off the total price. Since the Black Friday/Cyber Monday weekend in 2017 brought in $19.62 billion from online sales, the trend is expected to continue with more people turning to their mobile devices to do their shopping, so be sure that your store is optimized for mobile as well.
Shop Small Saturday (or Small Business Saturday)
A lesser-known holiday that also falls right around Thanksgiving, Black Friday and Cyber Monday, is Shop Small Saturday, which takes place every year on November 25. As a way to celebrate SMBs, this event encourages consumers to purchase from small businesses and mom-and-pop shops. Though the hype about this holiday may not capture as much attention as Black Friday and Cyber Monday, you can offer special promotions to appeal to the many consumers who consciously want to support local and small businesses.
Free Shipping Day
This year, December 14 is Free Shipping Day. Invented by Luke and Maisie Knowles in 2008, it aimed to help shoppers find an oasis free, of crowded retail stores or online shipping charges.
Though it’s not a major shopping holiday, it can definitely benefit your business – especially if you don’t offer free shipping year-round. In fact, nine out of ten people say that free shipping is the top motivator for online shopping.
While the weekend of Black Friday through Cyber Monday is the apex of the shopping season, November and December brings a significant increase in sales as people continue to prepare for last-minute holiday shopping. Some of the latest trends expect to see a rise in holiday shopping through voice-controlled devices, like Amazon Alexa and the Fire TV stick. Immersive virtual reality shopping experiences aren’t mainstream yet, but it is something all eCommerce businesses should keep on their radar for the future.
As mentioned earlier, the most important trend to keep in mind this year is the movement towards mobile shopping. While online shopping is still much more prevalent on desktop and laptop devices, more users are turning to their cellphones to do their shopping. This means, before the holidays roll around, you need to ensure that your site is mobile-friendly and easy to navigate on a smartphone. Otherwise, you may lose out on some major revenue.
Tips for Maximizing Sales
Now that you’ve been briefed on some of the top trends expected to hit the market this holiday season, you should already be taking steps to ensure that you are optimized for different shopping experiences. It’s important to start thinking about your marketing strategies now to ensure everything is ready to go when the season begins. Here are some of our favorite tips to maximize your eCommerce holiday shopping sales this year.
Use Personalized Marketing Strategies
We can’t emphasize enough how essential personalized marketing has become. Using strategies like email segmentation and customized social media ads has been proven to not only boost sales but make consumers happier. Using customer data, like purchase history, browsing history and specific demographic details, you can create email campaigns to show your customers items that they are interested in purchasing.
This makes shopping online much easier for the user because they don’t need to spend additional time searching through your pages for a product they like. Targeted marketing has become so commonplace that users actually expect it, particularly through social media platforms.
Invest in Big Data
Using big data analytics is essential to running an eCommerce business in today’s world. Without leveraging these insights, you’ll be left in the dark on market trends, site performance and customer behavior, just to name a few. Large corporations have more resources than SMBs to hire teams of analysts and use expensive software when sifting through and analyzing their own data. This information is, in turn, used to market their products in the most effective way possible to their target demographic.
As a SMB, you probably don’t have access to the same scope of resources, but you can take control over your own analytics. Using a marketing platform that specializes in this type of information is beneficial because they can help you understand the metrics and can guide you in your response to that information.
By diving deeper into your consumer data, you can delve into your performance from past holidays and identify areas where you may have potential for growth. This information can also show you the top-performing campaigns from previous years that you might want to replicate again in the future.
Springbot Exchange is a great tool to add to your arsenal. When you sign up for this feature, you’ll be able to compare your store’s metrics with similar companies to learn more about growing your audience, overcoming site and cart abandonment and gaining easy access to some of your store’s most important data. With the Audience Expander feature, you can identify look-alike prospects and use email marketing to reach a broader market.
Optimize Your Site for Mobile
It cannot be stressed enough that mobile shopping sales are going to dominate the eCommerce world in the next decade. Recent research shows that mobile eCommerce is the fastest growing sector of online sales This number is expected to keep increasing as people use their smartphones for more everyday tasks. Many people check their email several times per day on their cell phone. So if you’re running a targeted email campaign and they open it on their cell phone, it’s likely that they will visit the site on this same device.
Without a site that is optimized for mobile, you will lose a lot of potential customers. Much like the way people would shy away from a messy brick-and-mortar store, if your mobile site looks confusing or difficult to navigate, consumers are not going to spend the time figuring out how to use it.
Your mobile site should appear clean, streamlined and include a simple checkout process like your regular site. You should monitor your mobile site, even if your eCommerce platform touts to be mobile-friendly. Sometimes, features can appear off—the menu is in a strange spot or the photos are off center. All of these visual aspects may affect a customer’s buying behavior in a negative way.
Create a Holiday Page
A common tactic to capture more holiday shopping revenue is to create a holiday guide or holiday shopping page, to help consumers identify items that may work well as gifts. Making the shopping experience as easy as possible for your customers is the best way to keep them satisfied, encourage them to buy from you and continue to convert them into returning customers. To make the landing page or drop-down menu even more useful, you can break down the holiday gift guide into categories such as ‘for the kids,’ ‘for mom,’ etc.
Preparing your site for the holiday shopping season can be a bigger task than you might initially think, so getting a head start on creating and designing these pages is important. Ideally, you’ll want to have all of your sales, email and social campaigns, as well as holiday pages and mobile optimization prepared by the end of October.
The good news is, you don’t have to do it alone. Springbot’s dedicated customer success specialists will partner with you to set your store up for success this holiday season by leveraging your store’s data to strategize your holiday email campaigns, social media campaigns and more. By doing this now, your eCommerce business will be set to capture vital revenue and grow your brand presence online.