2018 Holiday Season: 6 Trends to Expect this Year

By Erin DeCesaris | Aug 30, 2018

Here we go again.

The surge in traffic, the crowded inboxes, the increase in ad spend, the rush of returns...

The madness of the holidays is upon us. For ecommerce merchants, it means: go time!

Online shopping has changed the landscape of holiday shopping. In 2017, Shoppers spent $108.15 billion online in November and December, up 14.7% from the previous year! This year's sales are expected to be even bigger.

With evolving technology and new customer expectations, it can be hard to stay ahead of the game. So let’s take a look at some of the holidays trends you can expect in 2018 to help you prepare for the busiest time of the year.

Black November

  • Plan to launch your holiday campaigns shortly after Halloween
  • Use October to make sure key holiday landing pages (like gift guides) are ready to launch in early November

    American consumers spent $19.62 billion online over the five-day period from Nov. 23 through Nov. 27 (Thanksgiving to Cyber Monday) in 2017, and that number is only expected to rise this year!

    While Black Friday is still a major shopping holiday, in recent years retailers have begun launching holiday promotions prior to Thanksgiving.  

    In 2017, Walmart and other major retailers launched holiday promotions online by November 4th!  

    Customers no longer wait until Thanksgiving has passed to begin their holiday shopping, and many of those who don’t buy early are still likely to start planning before Black Friday. So plan to launch your holiday campaigns shortly after Halloween.

    Amazon Holiday Days

      Mobile, Mobile, Mobile

      • Make sure your holiday campaign pages are optimized for mobile devices
      • Quality Assurance (QA) your site on mobile as well as desktop to ensure the experience works well on all devices

      In 2017, 53% of all orders on Thanksgiving day came from mobile devices!  It’s predicted that mobile will account for 70% of ecommerce traffic by the end of 2018.

      In 2017, Shopify merchants saw 59.6% of orders on Black Friday and 64% of orders on Cyber Monday come from mobile devices.

      Having a good mobile experience in place will be imperative to a successful holiday season this year, especially on Shopify, which over-indexes in mobile orders.

      Mobile Trends Shopify 2017

        Secure & Easy Payment

        • Add expedited payment options to your site if you don’t already have them set up
        • Let customers skip the cart completely by adding dynamic payment options, such as Apple Pay on mobile product pages

        In 2017, 21% of users surveyed said they had abandoned their shopping cart due to the checkout process being too long (up from 19% in 2016!).  

        Offering expedited payment options such as Amazon Pay or PayPal at checkout allows customers to quickly move through the checkout process - they can complete their purchase with one or two clicks, rather than re-entering information they already have stored elsewhere.  

        During the holidays, customers want to get their shopping finished quickly and easily - and offering easy alternative payment methods is a great way to do that!

        This is especially important on mobile devices - offering mobile-optimized payment options such as Apple Pay, Shopify Pay and PayPal can have a big impact on mobile conversion, making it easier for customers to purchase on-the-go rather than waiting to get home to their desktop (and possibly losing that sale).

        Shopify Pay

        Social Selling

        • Consider creating a holiday hashtag for your brand
        • Use a network of brand ambassadors to drive awareness of your brand as a holiday destination on social media

        Social media accounts for 30% of time spent online, and 81% of shoppers say posts from friends on social platforms like Twitter and Facebook directly influence their shopping and purchasing decisions.  

        Mobilizing your social fan base to talk about your brand can help drive holiday sales. Consider creating a holiday hashtag and using your brand ambassadors to drive awareness of your products in the weeks leading up to peak holiday shopping. This will ensure you're well positioned as a destination for holiday gifts!  

        Shopify Plus offers native integration with over 20 different sales channels, including Houzz, Pinterest and Wanelo.

        Luxy Hair

        Luxy Hair's Instagram feed showcases images of their extensions being used by real customers, and includes a link to buy those featured products.

        24/7 Service

        • Ensure at least one of your customer service outlets offers 24/7 support
        • Facebook Messenger is quickly becoming a popular outlet for customer support, order tracking and retention marketing

        More than half of customers say a business needs to be available 24/7 - more than half! On top of that, 46% would rather contact a business through messaging than email.  

        During the holidays, it’s especially important to be available and respond quickly to customer questions - otherwise you risk them going elsewhere for their holiday shopping!

        Shopify now makes it easier than ever to manage your customer service, with the recent release of Ping.  Shopify Ping connects to multiple messaging apps (including Facebook Messenger and Chatkit) to bring all your conversations into a single mobile app. This makes it easier to respond to questions and build relationships with customers even when you’re on the go.

        Shopify Ping

        Lightning-fast Websites

        • Make sure your website is optimized for page performance leading up to the holidays
        • Use optimization tools to ensure that your holiday content doesn’t hurt page performance

        A study by Radware discovered that “a two-second delay in load time during a transaction resulted in abandonment rates of up to 87%. This is significantly higher than the baseline abandonment rate of 67%.”  

        Customers want websites to move fast year-round, but it’s especially important to ensure your website is optimized for speed in the weeks leading up to November 1st.

        There is more traffic to most sites during the holidays, and many sites add holiday-specific content that could slow down site performance if not optimized correctly.  Pingdom and Google PageSpeed Insights are great tools to use to get recommendations on optimizing site performance (and if you need help deciphering these tips, check out our post on improving page speed here).

        Google Pagespeed

        There you are! If you start by focusing on these 2018 trends, you'll find yourself ahead of the game, and in good preparation for the surge of traffic this holiday season!

        Start planning today with Fuel Made's Holiday Planning Checklist!
        Erin DeCesaris

        Erin DeCesaris

        Erin is Fuel Made's expert growth strategist and has helped ecommerce companies grow for the past 10 years. She's got a deep love for the outdoors and loves exploring the mountains near Golden, Colorado with her two large, hairy pups.