This year’s Christmas shopping season may look a little different for retailers and consumers alike but, there is still much to be positive about. In fact, if you’re an e-commerce business, the good news is plentiful, with shoppers said to be planning to do more of their shopping online and begin earlier than the norm in order to avoid the crowds.

While we’ve shared our thoughts on what the holiday shopping period might look like this year, in this article we’re going to round up all of the trends and tactics just revealed by Google to help you refine your strategy and make this Christmas a cracker…

1.    Shoppers are researching now – adjust your strategy accordingly

Google’s research suggests that the pandemic has impacted on how and when shoppers prepare for the festive season. It says that under normal circumstances, 28% of shoppers do most of their shopping early in the season, with 22% considering their purchases as much as 3-6 months ahead of time. The need to social distance and migration to online shopping could see this expanded further, with more shoppers starting earlier in order to avoid physical stores and make the most of what could be a tighter budget as a result of the pandemic.

This means that you’ll need to begin your promotions and begin sharing content such as gift guides earlier than you may have done last year. Google’s advice reflects this, with the search engine saying “don’t limit your focus to traditionally big days”. It also suggests using automated solutions to deal with real-time demand.

2.    Online shopping set to be more in demand than ever

As we reported in our piece on the importance of digital post-lockdown, e-commerce has been heavily adopted by vast swaths of the population. With many forced to switch to online ordering when all but essential businesses closed earlier this year, it doesn’t seem likely that shoppers will flock back into store any time soon. Data from UK high streets says foot traffic is down by around 50% compared with Q1 of the year. This changing behaviour could have a raft of implications for your strategy:

  • If you aren’t already taking online orders, you’ll need to put measures in place to begin selling online
  • You may need to boost  your online marketing efforts and budget to engage with a greater number of shoppers
  • If you aren’t already doing so, it could be time to launch an order online, collect in store option
  • Your fulfilment service may need to be reinforced with an additional logistics partner or increased delivery slots
  • You may need to explore new channels and ad options, such as video ads, to make the most of increased online traffic
  • Your online promotions may need to be strengthened and expanded to stand out amidst fierce competition

3.    Consider giving your app a festive makeover

In addition to using search, social and video to help with the decision making process, shoppers are also spending more time using retail apps. Google research confirms that 38% of UK shoppers use retail apps, while time spent in app has increased by 20% since the pandemic hit.

Although customer loyalty overall is said to be declining – more than seven in ten consumers are open to buying from new brands, potentially to get a better deal or make stretched budgets go further – app users tend to spend more. On average, customers with your app will spend 37% more than customers who don’t use your app, so it’s well worth developing a strategy to encourage app downloads and app use to maximise basket values this festive season.

4.    Fewer in-store trips makes accurate information vital

Consumers say that they expect to make less trips to stores this year but, when they do, they will likely stay local. They will also be more prepared, by checking for information such as opening hours online before they set off. Last year alone, 86% of in-store purchases were preceded by online research, so it’s safe to assume that figure will be higher still this year.

To ensure that your shoppers don’t have a wasted trip, spend some time checking your online profiles (such as Google My Business, your Facebook profile and web page) to ensure that key information such as store opening hours, whether you’re accepting cash payments and the safety measures in place are accurate and up-to-date. 

If you’d like more dedicated support to make the most of every opportunity that comes your way this holiday season, contact the Adrac team now.

Author Rebecca

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