2020 Holiday Season ECommerce Forecast

2020 holiday season

Every year, NetElixir forecasts the upcoming holiday season – and NetElixir has helped our retail clients outperform industry benchmarks by 3X for the past 8 years.

Our 2018 holiday season forecast saw dominating trends of voice search and mobile orders, as well as Amazon as a trend-setter. We estimated that holiday searches would pick up around October 20 and stay strong over the course of the 33 day holiday season between Thanksgiving and Christmas Day.

The 2019 holiday season was unique in that it had 6 less shopping days, as Thanksgiving fell later on November 28th. NetElixir predicted that mobile searches would drive better integrated fulfillment of “near me” searches. Mobile orders drove nearly 35% of all revenue, while also accounting for 58% of all retail web traffic according to Multichannel Merchant.

Our forecasts come from consulting our holiday crystal ball: studying eCommerce trends from January to August at both our client level and the industry level, aggregating and analyzing our retail data, studying online shopper behavior and unique website visits across key holiday categories, and much more. However, this year, as you have heard many times, will be uncertain and unpredictable. No one has the crystal ball or easy answers for the best strategies this year.

Still, NetElixir has been closely monitoring the eCommerce trends and online shopping behavior since February 9th to monitor what effect the coronavirus pandemic has had on the retail eCommerce landscape. From that compiled data – and our 16 years of experience in the digital marketing landscape – we can share some predictions for the 2020 holiday season to help retailers better navigate this unpredictable season.

Top 10 Predictions for the 2020 Holiday Season

  1. 25% of all retail sales in Q4 will happen online. (Up from 16% in Q4, 2019). A robust online strategy is crucial this year.
  2. Incremental ECommerce Sales Projection for Q4 in the United States (vs. Q4, 2019) is about $50B-$80B.
  3. Holiday Shopping will start as early as October 13, with Prime Day acting as the driver. The holiday shopping season will most likely be longer than any other prior years, as consumers carefully plan their budget and comparison shop for the best deal.
  4. Inventory stockouts will pose the biggest challenge this holiday season, so retailers should be sure to inform consumers of any inventory changes and shipping delays as soon as possible. Social media and email newsletters will be good channels to keep your customers informed.
  5. There is a possibility that instead of Cyber 5, we will have Cyber 10 this year as the holiday season stretches to meet uncertain demand.
  6. Retailers will be lowering their sales promotions and focusing more on tapping into the demand surge by expanding their online visibility.
  7. Over 5% of all holiday online revenue will be driven by the new to online shoppers (those who had not purchased anything online prior to the pandemic). To accommodate these new shoppers, ensure your website is extremely user-friendly and consider expanding help capabilities.
  8. Enterprise and Large Businesses (>$250 MM revenue) will be increasing their digital marketing spend by upwards of 20% Y/Y to take advantage of the shift from in-store to online shopping.
  9. Amazon’s share will increase from 43% of the total United States eCommerce to 45% this holiday season. The biggest driver for their holiday growth will be “faster shipping” and Prime Day deals.
  10. Buy Online Pick Up in Store (BOPIS) will be an important driver of eCommerce sales after December 10. BOPIS (including curbside pickup) revenue will increase Y/Y by 50%+. Be sure to clearly include any and all contactless options your retail store boosts on your website and any ad copy.

Wishing you the most wonderful time of the year-over-year.

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