If great power means great responsibility, then great online traffic means a great ecommerce platform is needed in order to be able to deal with the forthcoming pressure that the former is going to apply to the latter during the holiday season.
This forecast isn’t only anticipated by analysts and consumer groups but also technology companies that are leading the lines of ecommerce solutions.
One such company is Salesforce, the family of cloud-based solutions including Commerce Cloud, who recently expressed their expectations that online sales are going to smash new records – with the caveat being that this record wave of traffic and sales is going to burden the shipping capacity of retailers, who are continuing to adjust to new dynamics.
So what exactly does Salesforce forecast?
- Total global online sales to reach a new record of $940 billion.
- Total US online sales to reach $221 billion.
- Year-on-year growth of online sales in the US of 30% during 2020’s holiday season.
- Despite an expected record-breaking holiday season for ecommerce, overall sales are anticipated to be flat.
- The holiday season is set to accelerate ecommerce’s share of total retail sales to 18% globally, and 30% in the US.
“Businesses that succeed during the holidays will use everything at their disposal to make shopping easy and safe,” said Rob Garf, VP of Industry Insights for Retail and Consumer Goods at Salesforce. This is going to include responsive customer service, efficient fulfillment, and streamlined online ordering.
So with this in mind, let us tease out a few thoughts to keep in mind for the forthcoming holiday season.
A closer start date
Thanks to Amazon finally announcing its anticipated Prime Day for 13-14 October, the wave of online consumers is approaching the shore earlier than usual. Prime Day has become the stone that ripples outwards in ecommerce that influences other retailers to drop prices and pick up sales. And so customers are going to be on the digital hunt for bargains before Thanksgiving this year.
Fulfillment for loyalty
One of the major challenges to retailers since March has been fulfillment, creating a whole host of challenges and limitations that affect sales and customer loyalty. When viewing this from the consumers’ perspective, their priority is the assurance and accuracy of the shipping time of their ordered products. And this will be the road to building customer loyalty over the holiday season. New normal strategies for ecommerce will help to strengthen the positioning of online retailers.
Some things are just inseparable: salt and pepper, Bonnie and Clyde, vodka and tonic… online sales and product returns. In fact, it’s expected that 1/3 of all purchases are going to be returned – that represents $280 billion.
Suppressing return rates is a key ingredient for the ideal holiday cocktail – which is easier said than done. One strategy for in-store sales: equip your customer-facing teams with the Salesforce Endless Aisle app, which connects data across the entire customer landscape, providing them with key information to recover potentially lost sales or returns.
New hot products
One trend that we quickly learned early on in this mess is that what we’re buying online has changed; we’ve witnessed fast-changing consumer behavior influenced by the pandemic.
Gear your products and services towards home-friendly, indoor-focussed themes like homeware. But also outdoor gear for camping and hiking, which have also ticked upwards in popularity as many of us seek sanctuary away from the urban sprawl and into the remote wilderness.