‘Never let a good crisis go to waste’ – said W. Churchill back in 1940’ies. It is entirely true amidst preparations for the busiest shopping season of the post-pandemic year. It might bring success or disaster to many retailers and brands currently facing the soaring demand levels in their eCommerce sites as traditional retail will arguably never fully recover to pre-COVID-19 state. Even in the most favorable scenario, the merchants should concentrate on integrating the physical and digital realms through omnichannel solutions rather than expecting things to get back to normal.
It’s believed that the 2020 holiday season could set sales records.
While many brick-and-mortar store operators have already realized that switching online isn’t as easy as many have expected back in March, they’re yet to experience the turmoil and disruption of a typical Black Friday and holiday sales in their full glory.
As there’s still enough time to prepare, we have pulled together a few recommendations to help you prepare your eCommerce businesses for your busiest holiday seasons yet.
Mark the important 2020 eCommerce holiday dates
October 12 – Columbus Day
October 31 – Halloween
Target audience: people in the Western world
1 November – All Saints’ Day (Fiesta de Todos los Santos) (Spain)
November 27 – Black Friday
Target audience: bargain hunters, holiday shoppers
November 30 – Cyber Monday
8 November – Father’s day
Sunday, 6 December: Spanish Constitution Day (Día de la Constitución) (N)
December 8 – Immaculate Conception (Italy)
December 14 – Green Monday
Target audience: holiday gift shoppers US
Olandija (anksčiau dovanoja)
December 24-25 – Christmas Eve & Christmas
Target audience: Christians, countries where Christmas is a public holiday
January 5 – Winter sale starts in Italy/France/Spain
December 26 – Boxing Day
Target audience: people in the UK, Canada, Australia, South Africa, and New Zealand
January 1 – New Year Sales
Target audience: people who follow the Gregorian calendar
January 6 – La Befana (Italy) kids get presents
Security will play a pivotal role
The rapid move to ‘all-digital’ has already had severe implications for newcomers and experienced eCommerce native-borns. Albeit 2019 saw an unprecedented number of security and data breaches, the incoming data of COVID-19 lockdown indicates we can expect yet another record-breaking year. The rising number of data-breaches in eCommerce in the following years suggest security enhancements deserve to become a mainstay in your CTO and site administrator’s agenda.
Disruptive events, such as the current pandemic, create a state of uncertainty and unpredictability. The subsequently rising anxiety leads to an increased number of human errors, which causes as much as 52% of data breaches by some estimates. With growing eCommerce’s influence on the bottom line of many businesses, security will not only make the difference between the winners and the laggards but may define the future of many brands overall. In 2019, 32% of eCommerce merchants had security-related issues. In 2020 the numbers may grow significantly and may sink sales and unprepared merchants’ reputation, threatening their relationship with customers.
At Invertus, we help brands prepare for possible evil-minded attacks by conducting rigorous security audits and integrity reviews, thus securing eStores uptime for the upcoming holiday season. We’ve crafted officially platform-approved security audit procedures for the PrestaShop stores, and we regularly conduct tailor-made checks for major sites running on typically heavily customized code. Check our solutions or drop us a note to find more.
Shift spending from offline to online sooner rather than later
During the following months, investment into offline has been cut in half while most businesses plan to further increase their investments in online channels like web, apps, social, and third-party marketplaces. Zara alone is to close up to 1,200 shops to shift their budget into digital stores. On top of that, nearly 60% plan to increase investment in new-to-them digital media, and 62% will specifically invest in mobile channels. The reason for such actions is apparent: most of Europe’s pure eCommerce players are currently seeing 10% to 50% revenue growth YoY.
Almost half of the decision-makers whose businesses sell online report growth due to COVID-19. This boost is a direct consequence of an increased volume of search, traffic, and orders. We can not foresee the future, though we reckon the 2020 holiday season traffic will reach the new heights. You should do your best to make sure your eStore can handle it.
Rethink how you deliver eCommerce experiences that go beyond transactions
eCommerce’s role is becoming central in creating a customer experience and building or breaking business relationships. Even before the restrictions and lockdowns were imposed, online shopping grew its significance as customers preferred shopping channels in B2C and B2B markets.
Although customers always prefer a personalized experience, their expectations of relevant customer service will inevitably include:
- Knowing exactly which products are in stock, or what is expected delivery time;
- Getting accurate and up-to-date product information.
Almost 40% of consumers and 56% of B2B customers prefer paying more for a better experience and won’t buy from the same business again if having a substandard experience. Surprisingly, a whole lot of digital companies don’t provide even basic functionalities such as easy website navigation, relevant search results, or straightforward product information menu.
You can find an overview of customers’ reported experiences, which might discourage them from using the same site again in the graph below. Nearly 72% of customers report challenges from out of stocks to difficulty finding answers to research questions or purchasing. Moreover, many complain of inaccurate search results, inadequate or missing imagery, lack of reviews or ratings, and limited delivery options.
Source: A commissioned study conducted by Forrester Consulting on behalf of Bloomreach, March 2020
Improving customers’ experience may require a lot more than setting an eStore. You should consider evaluating the overall process of the customer’s journey from acquisition to postpurchase communication, to maximize the chance of repeated purchase or advocacy actions. You may also need to digitize a lot more of your business processes and integrate the already existing systems (such as ERP, accounting, or warehouse management) with the eStore. The more you’ll rely on your staff performing routine manual tasks in the holiday shopping spree, the more chances you’ll experience delays and mistakes your customers experience. You can be both efficient and provide superior shopping service at the same time. You need to take the right digitization decisions while you still have time. We support many established businesses in integrating their Microsoft Dynamics ERP tools with the eStores and advise those that are yet to decide which system to use.
Seamless shopping experience is all that matters in the long run
Changed buying patterns mean businesses must provide customers with tools to get what they need when they need it. Digital brands have no option but to optimize and orchestrate personalized experiences to guide customers on their paths to purchase. That’s where omnichannel comes in hand. As mentioned before, nearly half of customers say they prefer a polished, personalized experience though just 14% reckon they had one on their most recent online buy that was tailored to their needs and expectations.
By the way, you should have in mind that although customers use a wide range of online shopping channels such as retailer/manufacturer’s direct site, online marketplaces, or a reseller’s direct sites, a substantial part – 54% rank online marketplaces as their favored one. Integrating your store with a marketplace may be a quick and obvious solution to the problem.
To make sure your eStore is ready to handle a vast number of customers, transactions and shipments during the holiday season, you should consider making the needed decisions right away while you still have time. It’s essential to rethink how you deliver the value and connect with customers through inspired online experiences and value-based services.
The must-haves of a modern eCommerce retail should be incorporated into every digital business. If not treated seriously, the customers have plenty of choices to spend their cash elsewhere.
While COVID-19 may have sparked new shopping habits, they, together with expectations will continue long after the crisis ends.
If you’re looking for seamless integrations, we’re here to help you succeed!