Holiday shopping this year will be a little bit different from years past, thanks to the pandemic. Throughout the pandemic, consumer shopping behavior has transformed. In 2020, the holiday season was unprecedented, with experts predicting record eCommerce sales. So as the 2021 holiday season approaches, it's time for retail businesses to start planning ahead.
eCommerce Trends in 2021
Increased Hybrid Shopping
In-store shopping has continued to reopen in recent months, but online shopping was strong before the pandemic and will be strong long after. More consumers choose to shop on their mobile devices than ever before, allowing them access to more inventory, sizes, and options. However, this doesn't mean in-person shopping is long gone. On the contrary, many individuals prefer to shop both online and in-person because in-person shopping allows you the experience of physically touching and seeing the items you purchase.
The shopping experience will continue to be hybrid as shoppers encounter digital touchpoints throughout their buyer's journey, including researching products, reading reviews, and comparing prices.
Hybrid shopping takes the best of both worlds to enhance interactions with brands, customer support, and the overall buying experience. For example, someone looking for home office desks will likely want to do research online and go to a store to sit at the desk they found online before bringing it home.
Potentially Less eCommerce Shopping
While eCommerce has boomed over the past year, it can be unpredictable. Remember, many shoppers didn't have the option of shopping in person last year, so they may choose to forego online shopping for the in-person experience due to cabin fever.
Nobody knows for sure if shoppers will continue to shop exclusively online or if they can't help but get out for their holiday shopping. Businesses of all types will need to be prepared for both scenarios. As a shopper, you can expect both brick and mortar businesses and eCommerce businesses to be vying for your attention to offer you a better experience.
More Convenient Options
As a shopper, you want convenience, which means businesses will have to give you what you want if they want to survive. When shopping, consumers ask for conveniences such as:
- Online ordering and on-time delivery
- In-store pickups
- Simple return process
Retailers will continuously develop strategies based on these conveniences to provide shoppers with a better experience inside and outside the store.
We do everything on our phones, which means more people will be shopping on their mobile devices this holiday season. Mobile shopping is the easiest thing to do for shoppers who make last-minute purchases.
One thing many successful retailers know is mobile shopping comes with high cart abandonment rates. These retailers curb this issue by providing a better shopping experience and providing discounts for shopping on mobile devices. Shoppers can expect to see discounts delivered through coupon codes for signing up for newsletters.
As you continue to use your phone to shop, you'll also notice Instagram shoppable posts that allow you to easily shop from a brand's post or account.
Because nobody has forgotten the supply chain issues they saw during the pandemic, shoppers will likely begin shopping early this year. This allows you to avoid crowds and out-of-stock items. To meet this demand, retailers and small businesses will likely launch holiday promotions early, which means shoppers should keep an eye out for deals very soon.
Importance of Social Media
More people will buy their gifts on social media this year than ever before, as the pandemic forced shoppers to turn to digital channels for purchases. As brand awareness continues to take place on mobile devices, it will be more prevalent during the holiday season. Social media is one of the first places to look for something new, especially gifts.
With more customers shopping online, there will be a higher demand for a good customer experience. During the busy holiday season, merchants may not be able to differentiate themselves in terms of price, but they can offer a better customer experience than their competitors. When shopping online this year, make sure you purchase from companies with a good reputation that can help make the shopping process easier online.
One thing eCommerce shopping can provide shoppers with that in-person shopping cannot is a plethora of reviews to read about companies and the products they sell. Reviews will continue to be one of the most important parts of a shopper's decision to make a purchase. When you're shopping this season, make sure to read all of the reviews on both the company and the product you plan to buy. You can read reviews on their eCommerce websites and social media.
When looking for reviews, make sure to beware of fake reviews. While you won't always be able to tell when a review is fake, you might be able to spot something fake. If you notice a company with many fake reviews, try to take your business somewhere else so you know you are purchasing from a trustworthy source.
When looking at reviews, you should also always read the negative reviews. This will not only help you determine if all of the good reviews are fake, but they can tell you what potential problems you can expect with your order.
While most people enjoy browsing for gifts, others will know exactly what gift they want to purchase for someone. No matter what, you can expect many people will be using Google or another search engine to find gifts this year. Searches on Google can be as specific as an "acid reflux pillow" to something broader like "gifts for mom."
Most eCommerce trends will revolve around competitive pricing and customer convenience. When you're shopping online this holiday season, make sure you only purchase from trusted and reputable brands. Digital shopping can help you make the right purchasing decisions even if you choose to make the purchase in-store. Or, you can choose the hybrid method and conduct online research with your top products, then go in-stores to see for yourself and purchase.
Marné Amoguis holds a B.A. in International Business from UC San Diego. She is a contributing writer at 365businesstips.com where she loves sharing her passion for digital marketing. Outside of writing, she loves traveling, playing music, and hiking.
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Robb Fahrion is a Co-Founder and Partner of Flying V Group. He is passionate about helping businesses grow using the power of the internet. Robb graduated from Chapman University in Orange, CA and currently resides in Costa Mesa, CA. Robb enjoys writing about digital marketing, helping his clients turn their dreams into reality, and he is a HUGE Mike Trout fan.