1. Online shopping will continue to dominate
Total retail sales grew by 8.3% in 2020, and the ecommerce sector grew by 45%, which outpaced predictions by 30%. The total market share for ecommerce was 25.7% reported by Digital Commerce 360. The global pandemic forcing buyers to stay inside was a likely factor for the rapid growth in 2020, but the sector shows no signs of slowing. Online shopping will continue growing in 2021. KPMG estimates that holiday sales numbers will be 7% higher this year than the record-breaking season in 2020.
Fears have lessened to some degree, but the pandemic will still dissuade large numbers of shoppers from venturing out of their homes. This, as well as a shortage of retail workers, will continue to push sales online. A survey conducted by Shopify found that over 90% of customers under the age of 44 prefer to shop online.
Amazon is the king of online channels with over 100 million Prime members. Digital Commerce 360 reported over a third of all online purchases in the US in 2020, 38.3%, were made on Amazon.com. One thing is certain, Amazon needs to be part of your ecommerce strategy for the 2021 holiday season if it’s not already.
2. Customers are shopping earlier
Last year, many factors resulted in lower than expected growth for the usual biggest shopping days of the year. The likely causes could have been the proliferation of online shopping throughout the year and a later than usual Prime Day in 2020. Even with prime day back on its normal schedule this year, customers will likely be looking to buy early. We expect that fear over stock shortages and shipping delays will lead many people to try and get holiday shopping out of the way ahead of schedule.
For online retailers this means having a fulfillment strategy in place and working before the start of the holiday rush; predict holiday sales as well as possible, and all planned inventory should arrive at fulfillment centers several weeks before the holiday season. It also means advertising earlier, and ensuring all product pages and your online branded stores are ready for the holidays. Push up all your usual deadlines if you want to capitalize on holiday traffic.
3. Consumers want to feel secure
A study from March 2021 found that 70% more customers are shopping online than before the pandemic, but only 38% feel secure when doing so. This will likely result in the majority of consumers staying away from lesser-known websites and returning to established retailers such as Amazon.
Even on Amazon, many buyers are wary of less reputable sellers and fake or knock-off products. Customers don’t want to feel like they were ripped off after a purchase. Make sure your detail pages are optimized and refrain from odd practices that would give customers a strange feeling. This means do not include clickbait phrases in your copy, use only optimized and high-resolution images so customers can clearly see the product, use well-written copy with proper grammar, and even have a mix of positive and negative reviews.
Many customers feel that a 4.5-star rating is more reliable than a 5-star rating. In fact, a study by Womply reviewed over 200,000 US business transactions and found that 5 stars rated businesses had below-average sales. Stores with a rating between 4 and 4.5 earned 28% more revenue on average. Authenticity is important for consumers, and customers understand that not everyone will be satisfied with their online purchases. Many people feel that reviews with a mix of praise and critiques are far more helpful than overtly positive reviews.
4. Branding is still important
With more and more competition online, it is more important than ever to build a brand that customers recognize and trust. In fact, a Salsify survey of 1,800 customers discovered that 90% were willing to pay more for a brand they trust. The main factor in this decision is quality. Over 40% of responders said that they prefer high-quality ingredients, materials, and craftsmanship. In second place at 30% was corporate responsibility. Only 16% of responses said that customer service made a difference to them.
These findings present a few practical ways to make your brand more favorable to consumers. Focus on optimized content and images that showcase the unique features and quality of your product. Create a premium customer experience on your detail pages and customers will expect a premium product. Use consistent branding on all your listings both on and off Amazon to tell your brand story and help customers understand where you come from and why they should purchase your products.
5. Advertising should be specific
In terms of increasing Amazon traffic and sales, Amazon-specific advertising is key. While 3rd party media platforms such as Facebook, Instagram, LinkedIn, and Twitter are important channels for brand equity, they are not as successful in terms of raising Amazon ROI. We have found that the majority of sales for our clients come from searches that originate on Amazon, and we see the largest ROAS from Amazon-specific ads. Customers use different words when searching on Amazon in comparison to other websites, so be sure to use an Amazon-specific research tool when looking for keywords and creating your ads.
Be prepared to spend more during the holiday season compared to the rest of the year; 2020 saw a 209% growth across all retailers in holiday ad spend. While it is not possible to avoid all increased costs, targeted advertising with a clear strategy will help minimize ACOS and make sure you drive more profitable traffic. Our advertising experts can help you craft a plan that maximizes your ad spend this holiday season.
Make this your best time of the year
While it’s impossible to predict exactly what will happen during the 2021 holiday shopping rush, we can be certain that brands should have a clear strategy in place ahead of time. Be prepared to make the most of early season increases in traffic that seem to get earlier every year. Fine-tune your fulfillment strategy to help avoid inventory shortages, and make sure your brand presents a consistent and uplifting image.
Is your company ready for the 2021 holiday season? Get in touch with our experts for help with account management, fulfillment, advertising strategy, and more!