Holiday Season is approaching! And it is going to be bigger than ever before in 2019. So, gear up!
eCommerce businesses will be looking to make the most sales out of this season. As an eCommerce player, tapping the holiday season effectively will boost your revenue and pave way for large scale branding. But, it’s not that simple. If you are on cloud nine after reading this, pause your thoughts. A myriad of other eCommerce businesses from all industries, such as apparel, fashion, FMCG, electrical and electronic appliances to name a few, will be in the race along with you.
Moreover, shoppers today have an array of options to choose from and they would need a solid reason to make a relationship with your brand. So, what’s needed for you to win is a master holiday eCommerce strategy on all fronts, be it a website, promotions, giveaways, and so on, for the next two months.
Before stepping into the details of how let’s look at why? Read some holiday season stats and trends in the last few years, especially last year.
Holiday eCommerce Statistics 2018:
A peek into the previous year’s stats show great signs for retailers, especially those with eCommerce stores. According to eMarketer, 2018 witnessed an awesome stream of revenue for businesses with total holiday season spending in 2018 of $998 billion, increased by around 4% when compared to the previous year. An even detailed split-up of this would be showing that there was total spending of $120 billion from eCommerce stores in the United States alone. According to Adobe Digital Insights, consumers spent $125.9 billion in online in 2018.
On average, the holiday season sales account for around 70% of the total sales from all holidays per year in the United States, with a yearly increase of 15% over the last 4 years. This means that eCommerce retailers mine the most during the holiday season and that the customer purchasing ability and business sales have increased substantially over the years, especially in 2018.
Let’s now have a detailed split-up of the holiday eCommerce performance in 2018 based on the different festive days:
Halloween 2018 – eCommerce Stats:
Halloween day, that happens at the end of October, witnessed a total sales of around $9 billion, which is almost equal to the previous year (2017). According to a survey by the National Retail Federation, the average spends per person was $87. Businesses usually roll out heavy discounts and cheap prices during Halloween and make the most of it. So, you can infer that the purchasing power of customers online is very high, even during the discount period.
Thanksgiving 2018 to Cyber Monday- eCommerce Stats:
The next most eventful period during the holiday season is that between Thanksgiving day that happens on the fourth Thursday of every November, and Cyber Monday, which is the Monday after Thanksgiving. According to Practical eCommerce, last year, retailers witnessed a colossal $23.6 billion, which was 19.6% more than 2017. Cyber Monday alone witnessed $7.9 billion, with Black Friday generating around $6.2 billion. So, it is important that you capitalize on your efforts for this period.
Christmas 2018 – eCommerce Stats:
Christmas period (from Christmas to New Year’s Eve) also remains to be one of the most commercial periods in the United States. In 2018, eCommerce retailer sales witnessed up to around $120 billion, finishing the year with around $990 billion in total. Leveraging your promotions and sales focused on these three periods is crucial for success in the Holiday Season.
Holiday eCommerce Forecast 2019:
Going with the current trend, with external circumstances and other factors, holiday season 2019 is going to generate a total sales of $1.03 trillion with an increase of 3.7% compared to the previous year’s numbers, says eMarketer. Along with this, a lot of eCommerce trends are going to change.
Reduced Offline Sales:
Even though there are prominent offline retailers, the sales offline will be reduced significantly. This is because eCommerce shopping empowers shoppers, and people have a better alternative to footfall purchases. Hence, you must make sure that you are top-notch in your holiday eCommerce strategy.
Increased Purchasing Power:
With respect to the United States, the purchasing power of the shoppers are at an all-new high. This is owing to increased employment rates and opportunities. So, this augurs well for eCommerce businesses making sales all over the world. With these kinds of promotional activities and schedules, increased purchasing power can be a boon or a bane for eCommerce stores.
Mobile Will Be The Game Changer:
As per Digital Commerce 360, holiday eCommerce sales from smartphones were solely responsible for generating $38.8 billion during the holiday season 2018, and $11.2 billion of sales arose from tablets. While the desktop/laptop is still the preferred device for holiday shopping, mobile has seen the largest increase of 46% over the last year. This pattern is going to continue this year as well, which means eCommerce owners need to optimize their eCommerce store and mobile app. The major points to note here are speed, ease of checkout and shopper-friendliness.
No Shipping Cost:
As per the trend in holiday eCommerce sales over the past years, maximum purchases by customers were made for products that had no shipping cost. 2018 Global eCommerce Study by Pitney Bowes found that 56% of consumers were disappointed with the retailers due to the fact that they have difficulties in handling the shipping. This means people are not willing to pay the shipping price for what they purchase, otherwise resulting in cart abandonment or order cancellations. But this doesn’t mean that you have to abandon shipping costs totally. The appropriate strategy would be to reduce or eliminate the shipping price for products you wish to make the sales out of.
To understand more about holiday eCommerce predictions for this year, do read Adobe’s 7 Holiday Online Shopping Predictions. Now, let us look at how to prepare yourself for the upcoming holiday season and the best strategies for exponentially increasing your holiday eCommerce sales.
Game-Changing Tips for Holiday eCommerce Promotions:
Schedule your Promotions:
Holiday season starts right from the end of October, which is the Halloween period and goes up till the close of December on New Year’s eve. Most of the Halloween sales would have started by October, even before the Halloween period. That’s when shoppers try to utilize bulk discounts and offer, and make the most of it even before the actual season rush begins.
eCommerce businesses should look to roll out pre-season offers during this point of time. The actual rush of the holiday eCommerce sales happens at the end of November, between Thanksgiving and Cyber Monday. This will be the time when even premium products get sold out. Hence, heavy discounts and offers will be the appropriate promotional strategies. You need to concentrate most of the promotions across omnichannel during this time to outshine your competition. To be precise, you need to schedule your eCommerce promotions, in terms of what and when long before the start of the season.
The rule of thumb will be to check what type of goods you sell through your eCommerce store:
- If it is an impulse purchase type (people purchase as soon as they see it), then the best time would be Halloween.
- If the product involves intense decision making by the customer before purchase, then the best time would be the Thanksgiving period. The strategy would be to provide high discounts.
Make your Website Ready:
The holiday season is different from the other periods of the year, in the sense that your website will receive a huge spike in traffic. This means that your website should be ready to handle the surge. Using marketing tools like Google Analytics, you can check the web-traffic for the past years and predict the traffic that you might get this year as well. You can also look into other factors, such as the year-on-year Holiday eCommerce trend, shoppers’ behavior, purchasing power, and so on. Some basic things to set up or update is:
Incorporate CDN and Fast Web-Hosting:
It is crucial that you ensure your eCommerce store doesn’t break due to extremely high traffic. The hosting you have taken up should be able to handle the spike in eCommerce traffic which is inevitable during the big holidays and the season as a whole. Before choosing a hosting plan, check for details like maximum limit, bandwidth, etc. Ensure that your hosting suffices to your traffic spike requirements. If it does not, then upgrade to a plan that does. Incorporating Content Distribution Network can also help to handle the surge, while also making sure that your eCommerce store is fast and responsive, even for contingencies.
Optimize eCommerce Store for Mobile Friendliness:
It is a well-known fact that smartphones are the big thing and have been for the past decade, and it will continue to be the same for online shopping. People rarely make eCommerce purchases from their desktop. Hence, it is quintessential that you make your store and all the pages optimized for mobile responsiveness and friendliness.
Here is a list of things you can do to make your eCommerce store mobile-friendly:
- Launch a mobile app, if you have not already.
- Implement Accelerated Mobile Pages (AMP) for your eCommerce store. AMP is basically an HTML page that delivers lightweight pages (without too many rich media files and scripts) and it is fast loading.
- Implement SEO optimized for mobile.
- Optimize website assets (images and videos) by reducing the size, and also minify your CSS.
Optimizing your eCommerce store to be mobile friendly is an ocean of a subject in itself, but to start with you can ensure the above-mentioned checklist.
Use Email Marketing as Your Arsenal:
Emails have been the channel through which most online shopping purchases have happened over the past few years, especially during the holiday season. Seasonal offers and promotions sell largely through emails, even more than you think. So, doing your email marketing for the holiday season right is paramount to making your holiday eCommerce a hit. Here are a few things to take note of before, during and after executing your email marketing strategy:
Plan your Email Campaigns:
Your holiday emails can be a make or break strategy, depending upon how you plan your campaigns. Set your objective first, whether it is a gift card promotion, discounted product purchase, a contest engagement or invite to a holiday event. Most of these campaign objectives have proven successful in email marketing for holiday eCommerce. Secondly, based upon your objective, write down the detailed split-up of the campaigns in terms of date, email frequency, target audience, and so on. An important point to note here is to plan the right promotional content for each big holiday.
Optimize Email for Mobile:
According to a report, around 70% of the emails on Black Friday and Cyber Monday were opened in mobile devices. Make sure your mail CTAs, images, and even the subject line are in place and optimized for mobile viewing. Try to use mobile email templates while making promotional mailers.
Personalize your Holiday Emails:
Personalize your emails to gain more conversions and sales from them. Personalization can happen based on the target audience the mail is intended to, as well as the day.
- If the email is intended for shoppers who have already purchased in your eCommerce store, then the email can be focused on similar or complementary products with discounts, upselling and cross-selling, and so on.
- If the email is intended for new shoppers, the promotion can focus on best selling products and on-demand products.
- If the email is intended for Halloween, focus your promotion using images, GIFs and other assets depicting Halloween, such as hats, masks, etc.
- If it is intended for Thanksgiving, focus your promotion on gift cards, refer a friend, and so on.
Leverage Loyalty Programs and Gift Cards:
Take a look at your past. See your best shoppers are from the previous holiday seasons, their frequency of shopping, their interests, and shopping patterns. After describing the complete existing buyer persona, keep their loyalties intact and encourage them to shop even more during the holiday season through lucrative discounts and offers, exclusive access to products, and so on. Another forerunning strategy to make big holiday eCommerce sales is gift card promotions. Gift cards are a great promotional solution even today. You just have to ensure that customers can easily purchase or use gift cards in your eCommerce store or mobile app.
Target the Right Social Media Channels:
For any business, especially eCommerce, social media marketing is a great chance to reach out to millions, even billions of shoppers, all over the world. Facebook currently has around 2.3 billion users, Twitter has over 300 million and Instagram has around 800 million users. People tend to either make shopping decisions or even purchase directly from social media.
Here are some of the best practices to make use of social media for holiday eCommerce promotions:
- Choose the channels where your business customer is there as an audience. Mostly B2C eCommerce businesses gather a lot of attention and conversion from Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram. To be even more specific, if your business is into apparel, luxury, or FMCG to mention a few, Instagram is the go-to platform for your holiday eCommerce promotions. If you are into B2B eCommerce, or you also sell to business customers, LinkedIn is the apt fit for you. Pinterest is a good platform for holiday eCommerce promotions with a lot of promotional pins and boards.
- Post the holiday-specific gift cards, discounts and engagement contests. Redirect people to an event-specific landing page on your website or store so that they make a purchase.
- Provide options for direct purchase from your social media channels, thereby reducing the number of navigations before a purchase.
- Plan your social media posts in terms of content and frequency. For example, post-Halloween promo content at least 2 weeks before the day, big discounts and Halloween masks on the day, and a heads up to Thanksgiving month for 2 weeks after Halloween. You can repeat this throughout the holiday season.
- Promote best selling products and on-demand items through social media ads, and have them running for 2 weeks up until the big day (i.e. Halloween, Thanksgiving, Black Friday, Cyber Monday and Christmas).
Do Holiday eCommerce Focused SEO Optimization:
You might have been better equipped with content, holiday eCommerce promotional strategies than what we have discussed till now, but are you still worried that people don’t find you in Google?
That’s where the question arises as to whether you have done your SEO right for the holiday season. To up your rankings in Google, especially during the holidays, you have to be right on the money following these SEO practices:
- Do a Content Audit of your eCommerce store pages and see if something is missing, wrong, or if there is an opportunity.
- Create exclusive landing pages with content for each of the big holidays: Black Friday, Thanksgiving, Christmas, and so on. You can reuse these pages if you have already created them for last year’s holiday season.
- Review store analytics as to how your holiday eCommerce performed last year in terms of keywords, search queries, conversion flow (the path is taken by a user before completing a purchase), rankings, and search volume.
- Submit your festival pages for crawling, ensure the site is free from crawl errors, redirection failures, dead sites. Constantly monitor your site to ensure performance, such as having fast load times.
- Build relevant internal links (e.g. from a blog explaining the best Thanksgiving offers to the actual Thanksgiving landing page with products and offers). Also, boost your eCommerce domain and page authority through effective backlinking from relevant and authoritative sites related to the holiday season, eCommerce, or promotions.
- Implement relevant schema for major holiday landing pages and related product and category pages, thereby helping Google to understand your pages better and display appropriately in SERP.
Wishing you a Great Holiday Season:
In a nutshell, the Holiday season is like a gold mine for eCommerce businesses and the coming two months are going to be crucial for you. But, it’s not rocket science! Just stick to the basics and ensure that all the above-mentioned holiday eCommerce promotional strategies are taken care of. Focus on mobile-first implementation for anything that you do in your eCommerce website going forward and optimize the existing pages for mobile if they are not already. Keep a close look at the holiday season’s trends, customer purchase behavior, and your strengths and opportunities.
If you have any questions or suggestions regarding tips for eCommerce businesses to thrive during holiday season sales, please write to us at firstname.lastname@example.org. The team at DCKAP wishes you an awesome holiday season sale!