Despite the holidays barely registering in the conscious minds of consumers, they’re in the thoughts of brands and retailers.
That’s because businesses have been beginning to plan for the busiest commerce time of the year.
And like 2020, this year’s holiday season is gearing up to be another year like no other. Last year, with ecommerce in full throttle and restrictions very much in place, with online shopping over the holidays growing 32.2% to $188 billion.
This year, restrictions have largely been removed and consumers appear eager to return to the past of big holiday spending. Yet ecommerce has strengthened its position across total retail sales, cementing its growth in usage from last year.
This puts brands and retailers in a difficult position – they went all out last year towards digital shopping as their shops were largely shut and social distancing in place yet now need to cater for a resurgence in in-person shopping while maintaining its larger digital presence.
(Nothing in ecommerce stays the same the long.)
This sparks the question: what can be learned from last year’s holiday season while businesses plan for this year’s holiday season?
Become more social
In a recent poll, 50% of shoppers have difficulty knowing what to buy for other people – whether it be family members, friends, colleagues.
This prompts the use of discovery aides. And this is especially true during the holiday season, because 45% of shoppers during last year’s holiday season said that they were buying for someone else.
And so, turning to social media apps, this area is prime for personalized inspiration. Around 8 in 10 social media users used these platforms to discover new products and services during the holiday season last year.
And when you break down global retail ecommerce for 2020, around 11% of it came from social media, representing around $474 billion.
… so, get posting products!
Drive it digitally
If you can cast your mind back to last year’s holiday season, it kicked off earlier than usual. Digital deals and promos were brought forward to October. Added to this the fact that many more of our browsing and buying are being done through our phones – half, in fact, of all 2020’s Christmas revenue came from smartphones, according to Adobe.
So drive deeper into digital and bring more attention to how brands curate mobile journeys.
Make moments of discovery
Do know that feeling you get when you’re scrolling through Instagram posts or Facebook posts and you stumble across a random product image and it stops you in your scrolling? Well, that’s what industry insiders call discovery. Social media is now built for these moments of discovery.
This means going beyond meeting customers’ wants and needs and instead anticipating their wants and needs. And it’s worth highlighting here that these moments of discovery happen more often on our phones, and on our apps.
In-store browsing and shopping switched to intent-based shopping last year given the shift from physical to digital. But there are now more hybrid options, such as curbside pickups, buy online and pickup in store.
In parallel, online shopping has gotten more immersive with more brands and retailers investing in augmented reality capabilities and livestream capabilities to allow users to digitally try on products and watch live fashion shows.
We are living – and as a result shopping – in this new hybrid reality. The impetus is on businesses to create and recreate frictionless and broad offers that bring both store-based experiences and digitally-based experiences together.