3 Predictions for the 2020 Holiday Shopping Season

A gift box with ribbon on a black background.

We’ve all seen the effects of the pandemic on retailers: physical stores shutting down, heavy switch to digital, shoppers opting for curbside pickup. Unfortunately, there was a lot of lost revenue due to store closings and shoppers not wanting to leave home, which is why this holiday shopping season is so important. It’s a chance for brands to make up some of that lost revenue — a BIG chance. This article explores what we anticipate from the most unpredictable holiday shopping season ever, and how you can ensure your brand is ready to make the most of it.

2020 Holiday Retail Predictions

There are a few things we can confidently predict about this year’s holiday shopping season:

  • Traffic will be hitting record highs.
  • It will start earlier than ever and last longer.
  • Shoppers want more from mobile.
  • Ecommerce sites will be pushed to their limits.

Web traffic increase

Because we monitor traffic on over 1,500 ecommerce sites, we have observed the baseline amount of traffic already reaching significantly higher, over 50%, than typical for this time of year without signs of slowing:

Is your site prepared to handle intense traffic spikes without interrupting the shopping experience? High traffic levels can easily turn small problems into big ones; think slow page load times, lost carts, and crashed sites. Shoppers have high expectations during their purchasing experience, and many will leave after 3 seconds of waiting for a page to load.

According to the recent Retail Systems Research Report, the average load time across ecommerce sites is 7.2 seconds. Not nearly fast enough to keep shoppers happy. Give them what they need to checkout or they’ll be gone for good. By optimizing your site for speed, you won’t miss your chance at big sales because your site was too slow.

Early start and long push this holiday

With the October launch of Amazon Prime Day, brands have lost out on precious time to prep their sites for the holiday rush. Some brands are already going into Code Freeze early, while others are pushing it to the last minute adding new 3rd parties and features to help engage shoppers. (We recommend getting a full inventory of these 3rd parties ASAP.)

Home Depot announced last month that this year its Black Friday sale will stretch nearly two months instead of a single day with deals available in stores and online. Other brands have followed suit as this will help reduce crowds in store and spread out demand. Where the issue lies is that ecommerce sites will be absolutely pushed to the max. What once was a five day push, now turns into a 3 month push on sites that are already dealing with record traffic levels. Make sure your site is prepared to operate at an intense capacity for a long period of time.

Optimize for mobile, and all digital channels

In the 2020 Retail Systems Research Report, a survey found that 32% of shoppers want to finish their transactions on mobile — a higher number than ever before seen. This finding combined with what we’ve seen for mobile traffic in 2020 creates the urgency for brands to optimize their sites for mobile as well as desktop:

Optimizing across devices is critical, and this is a huge opportunity for retailers to help shoppers make their transactions on mobile fast and seamless.

Focus on site performance this holiday season

Don’t worry, it’s not too late to get your site ready for this holiday season. Use Prime Day as a learning period. What went wrong? What still needs to be optimized? Use this information to make sure your site is ready for anything and everything come Black Friday. Also, take this time to meet with an agency that specializes in ecommerce for key insights on approaching this unpredictable season.

Your number one priority this holiday season should be to give your shoppers the best experience possible while on your site by optimizing for performance, with a focus on speed and consistency. The more optimized your site is, the easier this influx of traffic will be on your infrastructure.

Here is a helpful checklist to get you ready:

More holiday ecommerce tips from Diff Agency:

Need help optimizing your commerce website to increase performance and boost your average order value (AOV)? Fill out the form below to get in touch with our Shopify experts. 

This article originally appeared by our friends at Diff Agency.

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