Last year’s holiday ecommerce sales demolished all records to date, with $122 billion in sales. (That’s a 17% increase over the same period in 2017!).
It’s safe to say we’ll likely see similar numbers in 2019. As you start to plan for the holiday rush, we’ve pulled together the latest trends to hit the ecommerce scene this year.
Let’s unpack them, so you’re ready to hit the ground running come November 1.
01. Holiday shopping starts before Black Friday
- Plan to launch your holiday campaigns shortly after Halloween
- Use October to make sure key holiday landing pages are ready to launch in early November
We saw this same trend unfold last year. Brands are pushing their holiday promotions early, taking advantage of shoppers’ appetite for deals right after Halloween.
November 1 is the date you should aim to have everything ready to go. This means you’ll want your merchandising strategy sorted, your landing pages designed and built for launch (this includes gift guides), and your email strategy in place.
If you’re wary of starting so early, take a look at the data: shoppers who began their holiday shopping before Thanksgiving spent 28% more than late shoppers - around $370 USD!
02. Mobile has taken the #1 spot in traffic and sales
- Make sure your holiday campaign pages are optimized for mobile devices
- Add expedited payment options like Shopify Pay, Apple Pay and PayPal to checkout to streamline payment on mobile devices
We’ve been witnessing the rise of mobile shopping for a while now, and the holidays are no different. It’s more important than ever to have mobile on the top of your mind this year, as 66% of sales on Shopify during BFCM 2018 were from mobile devices. That’s well above the 40% ecommerce average.
With such high numbers at stake, be sure to quality assure (QA) your site on mobile as well as desktop to ensure the experience works as expected across all devices.
See how your mobile site measures up with our UX Mobile Checklist. Claim your copy today!
03. Shipping needs to be free & fast
Run the numbers and put a plan in place for offering free shipping during the holidays
- Decide what expedited shipping promotions you’ll offer and when
By now, you know customers want free shipping. And in the age of Amazon, you know they want fast shipping too. If your brand isn’t able to offer fast shipping year-round, consider offering it during the holidays.
If you’re a bit confused on what the definition of “fast” means here, more than half of holiday shoppers consider “fast” to be in two days or less.
Be sure to assess your delivery times before November 1, so you’re able to offer those speedy shipping times customers have grown to expect.
04. Email continues to bring a high return
Once you’ve chosen your promotional offers, start building hype ahead of the holidays. Get your list excited for what's coming
- Segment customers to be more relevant. Retarget last year’s holiday shoppers and prepare special offers for VIP members
Email is a valuable acquisition and retention tool year-round, but it’s even more so during the holidays. Brands are aggressive in their email marketing during the holidays - 23% of merchants expect to hit their email list at least daily.
With so much competition, you’ll want to have a solid strategy in place so your brand can stand out amongst the thousands of emails shoppers receive at this time of the year.
Be sure to start your holiday marketing early: send high-value emails, create hype about your upcoming offers, highlight gift guides and ideas, and be sure to clean out and segment your list.
05. Social media is a great way to get holiday shoppers to your site
- Create a destination URL for your holiday campaigns (you’ll see a nice SEO boost if you reuse the same URL each year)
- Leverage Facebook and Instagram ads for users to discover new products
Capture the attention of shoppers where they hang out the most – on Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest, and Instagram. Ads on these channels have the added benefit of being hyper-relevant to the users seeing them.
If you aren’t already investing in social marketing, you’re likely missing a huge traffic opportunity for the holidays. Even if you choose to invest a small amount, be sure to send users to a targeted URL to maximize your return on ad spend (ROAS).
Mirror messages across channels: if copy exists in an email, ensure the landing page flows with similar content
- Implement auto-populate on basic customer information, such as user location or size preferences
One big advantage retailers have in ecommerce is the ability to give visitors a truly personalized shopping experience - something customers now expect when browsing online. This is especially important during the holidays when competition is hot.
Creating a cohesive customer experience across channels will build loyalty and fuel sales. Mirror messages from email to landing pages. Enable geolocation and size saving. Provide product recommendations.
Bottom line: create a personal experience, and you’ll stand out.
07. Subscriptions are becoming a more popular gift
- Clearly communicate subscriptions as a gift: on your website, in emails, and across other marketing channels
- Make it easy for customers to choose subscription gifting options. Offer multiple time periods (ex. 1-month, 2-month or 3-month subscriptions.)
The ecommerce subscription market has more than doubled over the past five years. Offering subscriptions as a gift can be a great way to acquire and retain new customers. After all, why not give your friend 3 months’ worth of her favorite beauty product?
However, there is a lot to consider on the user experience side to make sure your subscriptions are giftable. Start early to ensure you’re prepared to handle this item as a gift service (you can contact us to help!).
There you go! If you incorporate these 2019 trends into your holiday planning, you'll find yourself ahead of the game, and well prepared to capitalize on the surge of traffic you’re sure to see this holiday season.