It’s almost peak selling season, which means retailers across the globe are busy planning and strategizing the best ways to captivate the hearts and wallets of shoppers. But in a world characterized by constant change and evolving consumer preferences, predicting holiday retail trends has become a tall order.
To help, I’ve rounded up the most important things you need to know about the modern consumer and actionable tips for attracting and retaining their business throughout peak shopping season.
Know Your Holiday Shoppers
Your shoppers are always evolving. Here's what you need to know right now:
- More shoppers are buying online. According to a recent Gallup survey, a majority of holiday shoppers (93%) expect to buy at least some gifts online this year, with nearly half reporting they’ll purchase most or all gifts online.
- Shoppers prefer mobile. Mobile order share grew from 60% in 2021 to 63% in 2022. Mobile usage peaked at 68% during Christmas and Boxing Week.
- Shoppers are committed to tight budgets amidst inflation. An independent survey by Celigo found most US consumers will set budget limitations on their holiday spending. Nearly 80% of respondents will aim to spend less than $5,000 on holiday shopping, with 49% targeting less than $1,000.
- Shoppers are frustrated by low stock for in-demand products. Although supply chain issues have significantly improved, 60% of consumers are worried about product availability this season.
- Shoppers have high expectations for delivery. Amazon has set a precedent for fast shipping, and customers expect other retailers to keep up—even if it costs them more. That is especially true of millennial and Generation Z consumers.
- Shoppers are holiday shopping earlier. 50% of shoppers have already started their holiday shopping, and more than a quarter are estimated to be done before Black Friday rolls around. Amazon’s October Prime Day, Walmart’s Big Deals Holiday Kickoff, and other highly publicized, big-box retail promotions contributed to the early start.
- Shoppers are shifting their search and spending to social. According to Salesforce, paid social media marketing is poised to outperform traditional marketing efforts by 10x this holiday season. Paid social ads drive traffic to physical stores and are twice as likely to lead to purchases as influencer marketing.
- Shoppers are spending more time researching products before making a purchase. Google research found 36% of customers spent more time researching products and offers in 2022 than in 2021. The search giant expects this trend to continue thanks to tighter budgets, a bevy of options, and more complex products.
Understanding your consumer is the first step to facilitating a successful holiday shopping season. Now that you’ve seen the data, how will you enhance your shopping experience to attract and retain customers and boost online sales?
Top E-Commerce Strategies for the 2023 Holiday Shopping Season
These strategies can help you set your e-commerce business up for holiday success.
- Automate e-commerce operations. Online shoppers have minimal patience for stock, shipping, and delivery challenges. And an influx of holiday orders can quickly overwhelm manual processes. Automate order processing, inventory management, and customer support to ensure smooth operations during peak season. A robust and dependable ecommerce platform integrated with product information management (PIM), inventory management, and order management systems is a non-negotiable for e-commerce businesses.
- Create a seamless, mobile-first e-commerce experience. Eliminate any friction in your customer journey. Make the path to purchase easy for today’s fickle shoppers, or they’ll look elsewhere to complete a sale. Look for opportunities to add personalization, prioritize a responsive, mobile-first design, enrich product pages with product descriptions, images, and videos, and reduce clicks to conversion to reduce shopping cart abandonments and drive retail sales.
- Make strategic marketing investments. Allocate ample budget to targeted marketing efforts. Consider paid advertising, engaging email campaigns, and social media ads to promote your holiday deals. Invest in the channels that work for your business, understanding that your audience is widespread and investing in any single channel won’t reach enough of your audience to have a meaningful impact on your business.
- Leverage social commerce. Maximize your e-commerce marketing strategy on social media. Integrate your products into social media platforms, making it easy for customers to discover and purchase items. Invest in paid ads. Encourage user-generated content to amplify your brand’s reach. While many consumers are burnt out on influencer marketing, creator marketing is on the rise.
- Optimize for search. Fine-tune your SEO with paid and organic search strategies. Algorithms are changing, and keyword stuffing no longer works. Build a rich content ecosystem around your audience, their challenges, and how your products help them.
- Use in-store deals and BOPIS to drive foot traffic to brick-and-mortar stores. More customers are shopping online, but brick-and-mortar is also back in a big way. Drive more foot traffic to your stores by advertising in-store only deals online. Offer buy online, pick-up in-store options to encourage shoppers to visit physical retail locations, avoiding shipping costs and potentially spending more on impulse buys.
- Offer buy now, pay later options. With consumers adhering to strict budgets, offering a buy now, pay later option can increase affordability and encourage more conversions.
- Start promoting holiday sales now. Most consumers have started online shopping for the holidays. If you’re not already promoting your holiday deals, you should be. Get creative to drive buzz.
Here are some ideas:
- Incentivize shoppers to select slower delivery times
- Offer free shipping for orders over a certain amount.
- Offer discounts for referrals.
- Create limited-edition holiday products or packaging.
- Boost customer loyalty with exclusive discounts or early access to sales.
- Create limited-time flash sales.
- Offer bundles of products at a discounted price.
Optimize for Success
Remember to continuously monitor and analyze the performance of these strategies to make real-time adjustments and maximize their effectiveness during the 2023 holiday season. Staying updated on e-commerce trends and consumer behavior can help you adapt your approach for continued success.
Inflation aside, holiday shoppers expect to spend the same amount this year as last year, with economic experts estimating they’ll spend even more. These tips can help you successfully navigate the season, build stronger customer connections, and improve conversion rates.
Need help refining your e-commerce sites to drive more e-commerce sales this holiday season? It’s not too late. Get in touch.