Earlier this year, we addressed the four shopping seasons of the modern e-commerce consumer from January through July. Now that we’re in the final phase of that list — prepping for Prime Day — it’s time to stay ahead of the next stage of seasonal spending.
Starting in August and extending through December is an array of events and holidays bound to keep consumers heavily engaged on the e-commerce front. Here’s what you need to know as a seller about the online shopping seasons for the second half of the calendar year:
Late Summer Surge: August – September
Calm Before the Spending Storm: October
The Steady Climb: November – December
1. Late Summer Surge: August and September
As vacations wrap up and students start heading back to school, this is a season when last-minute shopping reaches a peak.
Though many families already started back-to-school shopping earlier in the summer, plenty of parents still have a lot left to buy in late August. According to one recent survey, the average family with children in grades K-12 had completed only 45% of their shopping by the start of this month. (Another 23% hadn’t even started!) And then there’s the back-to-college rush, which has been shown to outpace back-to-school spending twofold.
Aside from school supplies and clothes, this season is marked by just one holiday — though it’s a relatively big one for e-commerce. One report found that 57% of Americans plan to make Labor Day-related purchases, with the average shopper spending $58. It’s little surprise, then, that U.S. News & World Report lists Labor Day as one of “The Best Days to Shop in 2018” for consumers.
2. Calm Before the Spending Storm: October
With colder weather around the corner, October’s a time when many DIYers will be looking for deals on home repair kits and automotive parts as they finish projects and prepare to winterize vehicles. Otherwise, this season is marked mostly by relative calm, with one exception: e-commerce candy and costumes.
That’s right — consumers are increasingly turning to online sales channels to find everything from face masks to miniature chocolates. Halloween confectionery sales on Amazon alone have grown 46% year over year. And with seven out of 10 Americans celebrating Halloween, more are turning to online channels for ideas: Just 30% of consumers find inspiration for the perfect costume in stores, compared with 35% online.
The biggest defining feature of this early fall shopping season? Preparation! More than anything, ‘tis the season to get ready for the deluge of end-of-year holiday planners, deal seekers and gift givers.
Preparation tip: Consumers aren’t just starting their end-of-year online holiday shopping earlier than ever; they’re using smartphones more, too. Be sure to revisit your product listings and ensure they’re optimized for mobile before the holiday surge hits high gear.
3. The Steady Climb: November – December
This is it! It’s the time of year when spending increases steadily to an all-time high. From customer service to returns, this is the online shopping season when every aspect of your business will be put to the test. People everywhere are planning parties, stocking up for family get-togethers and watching for great deals on gifts.
All retailers and manufacturing brands know to have promotions prepared well in advance of the five days from Thanksgiving through Cyber Monday known as the Cyber Five. But if you really want to maximize your seasonal sales opportunities, this is a good time to also consider tapping into the massive revenue potential of China’s Singles Day.
On November 11, global sellers have recorded e-commerce sales that were more than double that of Black Friday and Cyber Monday combined. Because Chinese shoppers have long shown an affinity for foreign products, Singles Day holds a wealth of opportunity for US-based sellers. Recently, we caught up with Michael Zakour from Tompkins International to talk about Chinese consumers, the “New Retail” and how sellers should approach the growing e-commerce opportunity in China today.
The rest of this season is marked by a steady climb in e-commerce spending, as consumers turn to online channels to achieve their holiday shopping goals. By December’s end, be ready for the cycle to begin again.
Preparation tip: As you plan your end-of-year promotions, this is a good time to consider your options for global selling as a way to capitalize on the billions of dollars Chinese shoppers will spend on November 11.
As every experienced online retailer knows, there’s no “off season” in e-commerce. Successful sales requires continual, ongoing preparation. Which is precisely what our latest e-commerce calendar is for. Download all the important dates you need to know from July through December!