SalesTech Star

7 eCommerce Insights for 2020 Peak Season

Most of us already love the holiday season, but eCommerce retailers have an extra reason to look forward to it.

Previous data from Statista shows that from 2015 to 2019, holiday season revenue was increasing at an average rate of $14.75 billion YoY. It is one of, if not the most, profitable times of the year for eCommerce retailers, and makes up about 30% of the total eCommerce revenue.

But against the backdrop of the COVID-19 pandemic, how does 2020’s peak season match up?

The first thing to note is that the industry has been through an incredible change this year as a result of the pandemic: In just three months, eCommerce experienced three years’ worth of growth, according to McKinsey.

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With social distancing and stay-at-home rules in force, consumers used the internet as their main point of shopping, buying everything from groceries to clothing, home exercise equipment, games consoles, and in the wake of the toilet paper frenzy, bidets.

Christened as ‘The Quickening’, it validates the prediction that eCommerce is set to top $1.1 trillion dollars this year for the first time.

So how can your eCommerce store grab a slice of the action and stay on top of the latest eCommerce trends this peak season?

Based on the 2020 Peak Season report conducted by Yieldify in August 2020 with 400 eCommerce leaders and 2,000 consumers across the US and UK, below is a list of insight-based strategies that can help you win this holiday shopping season.

1.    Email marketing plays a critical role

Email marketing is consistently rated as the highest ROI marketing channel. Across peak season and the months leading up to it, eCommerce retailers are provided with more great opportunities to grow their email lists through a variety of holiday campaigns.

Data from Yieldify’s report suggests that out of the tactical executions planned to meet marketing goals this peak season, email marketing came out on top for 30% of respondents.

Further, when asked about conversion-specific tactics, email remarketing ranked as the second most popular tactic (21% of respondents) after highlighting free delivery (26%). This is unsurprising, as these tactics complement one another: Free delivery encourages in-session conversions and email provides a fall-back where needed upon a visitor abandoning their cart.

To make the most of email marketing this season, deploy optimized and personalized lead capture forms. Make sure they feature your holiday-specific incentives, such as access to pre-sales, exclusive discounts, and other offers.

Furthermore, collect as much information about your new subscribers as possible. Use this data to create highly personalized email marketing campaigns for your segmented lists, which will not only achieve higher open and click rates, but also drive more conversions and higher average order value.

2.    Wishlist functionality entices new and returning customers

One of the most staggering findings in Yieldify’s peak season report is that an unprecedented 33% of eCommerce companies are choosing to opt-out of 2020’s peak season campaigns altogether, compared to just 6% last year.

However, this is in stark contrast to consumer appetite. According to Yieldify’s data, 34% of consumers plan to increase their peak season spending in 2020. In addition, 48% of consumers stated they would head to familiar websites, but nearly 29% plan to shop mostly new websites.

With a more engaged customer base and an apparent reduction in competition, marketers who adopt early holiday tactics have a head start in increasing their market share this peak season.

One way to prevent customer attrition is to offer visitors a wishlist feature. Not only does it increase signups by encouraging the creation of an account, but it also creates brand attachment throughout the holiday season and beyond.

Start your wishlist campaigns in advance so that visitors have the time to discover your products and save their favorite items. Then, send wishlist reminder emails to politely nudge consumers back into your store.

Bear in mind that customers’ wishlist data can be used not only to personalize your marketing efforts but to judge stock levels and get ahead of your competition.

If a product is regularly added to wishlists, make sure you run specific promotions around that product to maximize sales. In addition, assess your competitors. If they’re offering a similar product you could create bundle deals or even special offers to tempt customers away from their site and onto yours.

3.    Social proof maximizes sales

Of those eCommerce leaders surveyed by Yieldify, only 45% stated that they were confident in their abilities to increase revenue in this peak season. Many cited concerns about reductions in consumer demand, as well as worries of increased competition with other eCommerce websites.

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To combat this, employ social proof tactics as powerful tools in maximizing sales.

The fear of missing out (FOMO) especially is an incredibly powerful motivator, and commonly seen across the peak shopping season. Its ability to build urgency helps drive impulse purchases and conversions.

Across the holiday shopping period, run social proof campaigns across both product listing pages (PLPs) and product detail pages (PDPs). Use copy that promotes urgency and scarcity like:

  • In high demand
  • Selling out fast
  • Almost gone
  • Popular item

Alternatively, use real-time social proof to display customer activity. For example, “Only X items remaining.” or “This item was purchased X times in the last 24 hours”.

4.    Countdown timers boost in-session conversions

Another behavioral psychology tactic that can be used alongside, or as an alternative to, social proof is countdown timers. These also create urgency to purchase, especially if they’re accompanied by a flash sale offer. For example, “20% off this item for the next hour”

This peak season, a large proportion of retailers plan to offer discounts of around 11-20%. Using these discounted offers in flash sales and limited edition products across Black Friday and Cyber Monday sales can be a great way of encouraging in-session conversions through FOMO.

You can also drive consumer anticipation by teasing the sale. Include a flash sale countdown timer in email marketing campaigns to get consumers ready to visit your site and buy on the day.

5.    Holiday gift guides encourage big spenders

Out of the consumers who plan to increase their peak season spending across 2020’s holiday season, a large majority said that they wanted to buy more gifts for friends and family.

One way to make this gift-giving experience easier is to create holiday gift guides. Gift guides allow you to categorize your products for easy navigation, as well as providing an opportunity for cross-selling and upsell campaigns. Internally linking to your products throughout the guide lets it all but serve as an automated personal shopper.

In addition, gift guides can also be promoted as gated content. Hiding a gift guide behind an email sign up form could also grow your email list, especially if you write a blog post first that engages visitors into wanting to discover more.

Create your gift guides around relatable traits, such as price, gender relationship, interests, and hobbies. You can even include gift bundles within the guide to increase your average order value.

6.    Cart reminders catch abandoning shoppers

Cart abandonment is a term that strikes dread into the hearts of all eCommerce marketers, and there’s more bad news. Data from Statista suggests the average cart abandonment rate across industries in March 2020 reached 88%, a significant increase on its previous 76% figure.

While the rate may have increased, the core reasons behind cart abandonment are the same. Shoppers mostly abandon their carts due to unexpected shipping costs, taxes, or discount codes not working. With 29% of shoppers already planning to head to new websites this peak season, eCommerce marketers should begin preparing effective cart abandonment tactics.

Exit-intent overlays can preempt visitors from abandoning by displaying specific one-time offers that promote urgency to buy. You could also use chatbots that pop up when a user has been on the basket page for a certain duration of time to see if they require any help or are experiencing issues on your website.

As well as overlays and user behavior triggers, powerful messages can persuade your visitors to complete their purchases. These could include reminders that your price is the best price, or if you can’t guarantee that, reminders of other perks such as security or speed of delivery.

7.    Returns create new conversion opportunities

There’s one big downside to frenzied peak season shopping: returns.

Thanks to the deluge of offers available, many consumers buy products on a whim only to return them if the product doesn’t fit their needs.

Not to worry. Utilizing tactics like behavioral segmentation you can easily distinguish and target customers who have returned a product. Serve them a personalized message acknowledging their return and offering them to find a replacement. The more information about the customer’s return you have, the easier this strategy will be to deploy. Make sure your customer service team is doing all they can to handle these returns efficiently as well.

For example, you can leverage return forms on your website that ask customers to state the reason behind their return, e.g.: “I didn’t like the color.” Use this data to showcase the full color range of your products and help them choose a more suitable one.

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In conclusion

Peak season is just around the corner and it’s important to start preparing and optimizing your holiday marketing campaigns for maximum success: use these tactics to get you started on maximizing your holiday revenue this peak season.

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