Spring, summer, winter, fall… gift giving, party planning, back-to-school shopping.
As e-commerce continues to evolve and change the way people shop, peak seasons that were once ushered in by changes in weather are occurring with far less predictability.
Each year brings more news of sales records that have been shattered and online holiday spending that occurs at unexpected times. And in some cases, e-commerce shopping events are the holiday.
Things are changing fast. But that doesn’t mean you can’t be prepared.
Below is a snapshot of online shopping seasons we expect to play a critical role in the first half of 2020.
1. Returns Season
Does your current peak season sales strategy consist primarily of promotions and deals? If so, it may be time to rethink things. The flurry of e-commerce activity that starts in December and extends through January is now defined by another key component:
As consumers do more and more shopping online, return processes are playing a big role in buying decisions.
An estimated 96% of consumers will shop with a brand or retailer again after having a positive return experience, and more than 60% will purchase new products to replace the ones they’re returning. When you provide a hassle-free experience that includes both free shipping and automatic refunds, your opportunity for long-term loyalty can increase significantly.
Many e-commerce companies experienced the effects of this trend at the first of the year, when carriers and retailers alike prepared for yet another record National Returns Day. And while those returns unequivocally drive up costs, they also present opportunities for future sales that are worth planning for.
For inspiration and ideas you can use to make the most of returns, both in January and throughout the year, check out these posts:
- How to Make the Most of Holiday Returns This Season
- How to Unload Excess Inventory in Productive, Profitable Ways
2. Priming and Prepping
In the midst of warm-weather vacations and carefree activities for consumers, summer has become one of the busiest seasons of the year for e-commerce companies. The reason? Amazon Prime Day.
Originally intended as a one-time celebration of Amazon’s anniversary, this e-commerce event has become a global shopping extravaganza for the marketplace’s more than 100 million Prime members. The number of members who take advantage of Prime Day has doubled since Prime Day’s debut, and will undoubtedly continue to grow.
If there’s one thing to know about Amazon Prime Day, it’s this:
There’s not a single Amazon seller that can afford to miss out. And the sooner you start to prepare, the better positioned you’ll be to capture sales. At a minimum, we recommend subscribing to the ChannelAdvisor blog and newsletter to ensure you won’t miss important announcements on Prime Day deadlines and preparation webinars beginning in April and May.
3. Back-to-school spending
Once upon a time, parents and students made a day of shopping for new outfits and notebooks a week or two before the first bell rang. Then e-commerce came along, and everything changed. These days, the back-to-school shopping season begins before the current school year is even over.
In other words…
If you haven’t started to at least prepare your promotions by May, you’re already at risk of losing sales to your competitors. And with Amazon Prime Day coming in July, you definitely don’t want to wait until August to roll out your best offers.
To help ensure you’ll be ready, get a quick refresher on what to expect in our most recent back-to-school season reports:
- 3 Ways Back-to-School Shopping Has Changed
- Tax-Free Weekends and Back-to-School Shopping: What Sellers Need to Know
In conclusion: In the ever-evolving e-commerce landscape, online retailers should be continually prepared for shifts in seasonal spending. As more and more purchases are made online, traditional shopping seasons are redefined and reallocated to different times throughout the year. By staying ahead of the latest trends, it’s possible to move forward with a measure of predictability that can lead to your own seasonal sales records.
Looking for more ways to prepare for upcoming shopping seasons? Download the calendar: 2020 Essential E-Commerce Calendar: January – June. You’ll find month-by-month dates to help plan for the peak seasons described above, as well as details on upcoming industry events and tips to keep you ahead of competitors.
Editor’s note: This blog post was originally published on March 20, 2018. It has been updated for accuracy and comprehensiveness.