Did everyone initiate their Christmas promotion in October? Are other retailers struggling with inventory? Is this what all shoppers are doing? 

 

Let’s be honest, the holiday season is a chaotic time for merchandisers and retailers. You’re so caught up in the day-to-day challenges, that it is almost impossible to critically assess the wider picture. Specifically, it is complicated to gauge in the moment, how your experience compares to that of others in the industry. This creates a sense of uncertainty and makes it harder to pinpoint opportunities for improvement (some of which are not obvious in hindsight)

 

We've created a 3-part blog series for ecommerce leaders who want a quick and accurate overview of what shoppers are doing, what other retailers are focusing on and relevant ecommerce solutions which can help inform ecommerce plans for 2022. 

 

In this blog, the first one of the series, we’re sharing key shopper trends which you can expect during this period. These trends coincide with the predictions we made back in 2020, based on nearly 700 million insights. All in all, we studied 75 customers across 5 verticals: luxury, affordable luxury, fashion, beauty and general merchandisers which amounted to 696.4 million visitors, 876.5 million sessions and 22.2 million purchases. 


As you read through, think of whether these trends coincide with what you are currently observing or expecting to observe as the end of year approaches.

 

  • The holiday season will continue to last longer than in years prior to COVID-19
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  • As online adoption continues among consumers, despite store reopenings, the holiday season will span a longer length of time than in a pre-pandemic world.   The convenience of online shopping means that shoppers browse both earlier and later, and often, for longer periods of time before actually making a decision to purchase.

 

  •  Early birds will catch the worm (bulk of purchases)
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  • Last year we saw a continuous spike in online traffic and purchases in the week following the weekend of Black Friday/Cyber Monday, with the last two weeks leading up to Christmas seeing less activity. We expect similar levels of early activity this year as shoppers are concerned over shipping delays and limited inventory, caused by supply chain challenges carried over from last year. 

 

  • Don’t forget last-minute shoppers.

  • Rather a surprising finding from last year’s analysis was that despite most consumers shopping earlier than usual, we saw a major uptick in online traffic and last-minute purchases last holiday season.  Specifically, holiday 2020 saw 27% more purchases occurring between December 25 and December 27 compared to holiday 2019.

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  • While some last-minute shoppers may return to physical stores for their late purchases, retailers should expect a similar spike in laggard activity online, with shoppers falling in this category more likely to pay steep fees for expedited shipping. To avoid inconveniences, clear communication of shipping dates, and if possible, of expected delivery dates, is paramount. 

 

  • Conversion rates could be down from last year, but higher revenues and related metrics expected
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  • Qubit data indicated a 3.17% uplift in conversion rate among all retailers for the 2020 holiday season compared to the year prior.  We anticipate conversion rates to be relatively down from last season for a variety of reasons including that some consumers may leverage the online channel for discovering products, but opt to make their purchase(s) in-store.

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  • Despite this, retailers can expect higher revenues, average order values and RPC among consumers who opt for online purchases as 2021 consumer spending in categories outside retail such as travel and restaurants has yet to return to pre-pandemic levels. 

 

  •  Vertical specific predictions
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  • Last year, General Merchandisers (home-goods, electronics) saw the largest surge in total visitors (+28.1%) and returning sessions likely due to the longer nature of the buying cycle in this category. We predict a further uptick in traffic and purchases as consumers continue to work from home or in hybrid capacities and opt to update their home offices.

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  • Fashion witnessed the smallest holiday gains last year among verticals studied, but we anticipate a tremendous rebound in this sector as shoppers revamp their wardrobe for the return to more traditional holiday gatherings and new year celebrations into 2022. [See fashion ecommerce case study ].

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  • Affordable luxury, which saw the largest gains in purchases (+59.2%)  and uptick in  RPV (+15.5%) last year is likely to see further growth this year as it is dominated by gift purchases, despite shoppers facing relatively fewer promotions in this category. [See affordable luxury case study]

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  • While growth in online Luxury is expected, especially driven by Millenial and Gen Z consumers,  we predict gains to be relatively modest compared to last year (+70.1% online revenue ) as many luxury shoppers return to physical stores for in-store luxury shopping experiences.

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  • Beauty & cosmetics grew 26% in online revenue last holiday season and while continued growth is expected, holiday 2021 may see relatively flat results this year compared to last year as some consumers, especially older generations return to purchasing at the beauty counter.  [See beauty ecommerce case study]

 

In conclusion, whether you’re experiencing some or all of the above, we hope that having an overview of general shopper trends will allow you to identify unexploited opportunities or areas for improvement. If you’re interested in exploring more shopper insights and how ecommerce leaders like Kurt Geiger and Mandm Direct inspire purchase online, check out our free ebook here

 

Author

Alicia Sanchez

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