Trends to Watch Through the Rest of the Holiday Season

December 5, 2017

This blog post is part of our 2017 Holiday Planning series. Be sure to check back often or, better yet, subscribe to the blog to stay updated with this year’s latest holiday trends, tips, best practices, reports and more!

After Cyber Monday closed with revenues of $6.59 billion (up 16.8% from last year), we’re predicting strong upward trends in eCommerce will continue through the end of the year. How can your business capture some of this growth and cash in on a successful holiday season? Here are five trends to watch over the next few weeks.

Creative, Competitive Moves

More than ever, we’ve seen the major players pull out all the stops to get the upper hand during the holiday season. We wouldn’t be surprised if a few curve balls aren’t thrown out as the year comes to a close. A few examples include Amazon subsidizing prices up to 9% for third-party sellers to compete with Walmart and Target. Walmart started a unique delivery strategy involving store employees to compete with Amazon’s fast and free shipping via Prime.

What this means for you: Keep an eye on industry news and stay agile with your inventory. If a marketplace makes an appealing move, make sure you have your items ready to sell!

Marketplace Advertising 

As always, marketplaces offer great opportunities to expose third-party products to consumers. This comes at a cost, but often the return on investment is worth it. We expect the success of advertising with marketplaces to continue. See a few success stories from eBay and Amazon. eBay offers Daily Deals, Promoted Listings and Promotions Manager while Amazon offers Sponsored Products, Headline Ads and Product Display Ads.

Smaller marketplaces like Newegg take marketing to the next level with opportunities like email marketing, NeweggFlash and social media. Walmart offers limited advertising opportunities, but they involve adding a promotional flag to your listings.

What this means for you: Make sure you’re capturing all the opportunities you can to get in front of marketplace shoppers. If you’re not participating in marketplace advertising programs, you could be leaving sales on the table!

High Mobile Traffic and Conversions 

There’s no question that mobile is continuing to be a strong traffic driver and conversion medium with eCommerce. According to Shopify, their customers saw significantly more orders coming through mobile devices compared with desktop. On Black Friday, mobile orders outpaced desktop orders by 40%!

What this means for you: Make sure your website shopping experience is user-friendly from landing page to checkout confirmation. If you’re selling on marketplaces, select those that have a great mobile checkout or app as well.

Fast and Free Shipping

While free and fast shipping is always preferred, it’s a must around the holidays. As the days tick down toward Christmas, family and friends want those gifts faster and still shipped for free! When you see companies like Target offering free shipping with no minimum order (it’s dropping its $35 minimum until 12/23) you know it’s time to jump on the bandwagon if you haven’t already.

What this means for you: Make free/fast shipping happen NOW if you haven’t. Some decide to build shipping into the price of an item, others will try to find efficiencies that may be overlooked like adding new logistics software or distribution methods to help with handling time.

The Brick-and-Mortar and eCommerce Combo 

If you have a retail location and an online presence, combining the two is essential. Many online retailers have even made the jump to brick and mortar (B&M) in recent years (see Warby Parker, Amazon and Bonobos). Many online brands have also decided to pair with traditional B&M retailers (see Casper’s partnership with Target). Sellers have historically viewed “showrooming” or having consumers research products they find in-store and then buy online as a bad thing. However, many retailers are embracing this trend and offering free Wi-Fi and tablets in store for ordering, or even QR codes to find out-of-stock items online.

According to Retail Dive, 60% of shoppers use mobile devices to shop while in a store. Imagine how this increases while people are holiday shopping! It’s also important to consider options like Buy Online, Pickup In Store (BOPIS). You save on shipping and handling, and your customers still get their items quickly!  

What this means for you: If you have B&M locations, don’t be afraid to incorporate your eCommerce business in every way you can. Having a seamless omnichannel approach can make a holiday shopper a loyal shopper for life.