The upcoming holiday shopping season is bound to shake the ecommerce sector. If you haven’t yet finalized your holiday sales schedule, now’s the time to get it done. But you may want to rethink your strategy for November and December.
Some of the large retailers will kick off deals in early October when a newly proposed shopping event will reportedly launch. This, coupled with a lengthier sales season, could change everything.
Adios Black Friday?
Many big retailers will be closed Thanksgiving Day and limiting foot traffic the Friday following. To make up, several plan to launch aggressive sales much earlier. Home Depot, for example, plans to offer Black Friday prices from November 8 through the entire season; Best Buy says its sales will begin in October.
Bloomberg reported the launch of a new shopping event called 10.10 — a take on China’s 11/11 Singles’ Day, which was the world’s most profitable day for retailers in 2019. 10.10 would occur on — you guessed it — October 10. We know little more than the date and that 24 undisclosed retailers are working in conjunction with the Shopkick app.
Amazon has yet to announce when its delayed Prime Day will occur. Many observers speculate mid- to late-October.
Focus on the Season
The Black Friday weekend is historically critical for many online stores. This latest shift could be an unwelcome disruption. Still, it’s necessary to compete with physical stores, who must follow local restrictions and accommodate the concerns of in-person shoppers.
Another reason for season-wide deals — versus the Black Friday weekend only — is to alleviate the stress on supply chains and shipping companies. By enticing consumers to shop earlier, merchants have time to restock and ensure that gifts will arrive on time.
Here are some tips to encourage shoppers to buy now rather than later.
- Launch your holiday sales in early October. If 10.10 gains traction, give consumers a reason to browse your catalog. Regardless, we can expect other retailers to follow Best Buy’s lead of starting way early.
- Switch things up. Even if you have a large inventory of a few sale items, swap out some of the deals each week. This keeps content fresh and consumers intrigued about what comes next.
- Showcase your company. If you’re part of the small business sector — 99 percent of U.S. companies — get a little personal. Spotlight your employees and showcase your company’s history.
- Display stock levels on products in limited quantity. This helps shoppers decide quickly about purchasing while emphasizing the “fear of missing out” — FOMO.
- Disclose shipping delays. With most people shopping online this year, UPS, FedEx, and USPS will be stretched during December. Give your customers a heads-up during the shopping and checkout process. If possible, provide anticipated delivery dates in an “arrives by” format.
- Focus on staying-at-home trends. Way fewer people are traveling this year, so promote products they can enjoy at home. Study sales by big retailers and smaller competitors. Monitor what your target audience is talking about online. Look at data — wish lists, site search— from your store over the past two months. Otherwise, think home entertainment, relaxation, backyard festivities, and housework items.
- Feature accessories and add-ons on the product and cart pages. This can increase order totals without interrupting the checkout process. Restrict offerings to items related to what’s in the cart.
You’ll be navigating uncharted territory in the 2020 holiday season, no matter the projections. Expect surprises. Take a proactive approach to products, sales, and shipping practices. Pivot quickly as conditions change. Consumers understand we’re in different times. How you manage the season, starting now, determines success.