Top E-Commerce Tips for a Successful 2021 Holiday Season

Evidence of spring’s arrival is everywhere. As we enjoy the blossoming wildflowers, listen to the songbirds and soak up some warmer weather, Australian brands and retailers also see signs of the approaching holiday season.

And they can’t prepare soon enough.

E-commerce activity remains strong, and likely to grow during the final quarter of the calendar year. A recent survey of Australian shoppers conducted in August by Dynata for ChannelAdvisor indicated 58% of consumers plan to do about the same amount of online shopping during the 2021 holiday season, and 36% of consumers plan to do more.

Based on our outlook and experience in the e-commerce industry, we’ve put together five recommendations for the upcoming holiday season.

Prepare for an extended shopping season

The idea of a traditional, month-long shopping period was already tenuous, as the season was typically growing a little longer every year. Like so many other aspects of retail, the experience of 2020 broke it apart altogether.

Shopping is now well underway in the midst of spring. In November 2020, online purchases grew by 55.6 percent YoY, with the week starting on 23 November growing 48 percent YoY (which included Black Friday) and the following week growing 42 percent YoY — making it the biggest week in Australian e-commerce history. By planning ahead and implementing strategic pricing and promotions, you can take advantage of any early shopping activity, as Australians are likely to set records in online spending this holiday season

Implement a solid fulfilment plan

Managing logistics was a key struggle in 2020, affecting brands and retailers across the globe. According to Australia Post, 73 percent of small and medium Australian businesses indicated they had to make changes within their operations, supply chains and partnerships.

With lockdowns and concerns about the spreading virus continuing to affect the workforce and e-commerce deliveries, fulfilment is not an issue you want to leave unexplored. Prepare for the unexpected and, wherever possible, make backup plans. Timely delivery is known to be a top factor in customer satisfaction, but consumers are aware of the ongoing disruption in supply chains everywhere. In the face of shipping delays and difficulties, frequent and reliable communication is absolutely key.

However, in one area, consumer preference is clear: free shipping is preferred to fast shipping. While fast delivery times did not appear to influence retailer selection, 71 percent of surveyed shoppers indicated free shipping was their top priority.

Statistics indicate growing support for a click-and-collect delivery method amongst buyers. In a recent ChannelAdvisor survey conducted by Dynata, 42% of Australian shoppers said that they planned to use either click-and-collect, buy online & pick up in-store or curbside pickup during the 2021 holiday season.

Optimise your listings

Firstly, there are technical optimisations. Each channel has its own specific requirements when it comes to product data. Titles, descriptions and images must all meet the requirements for every channel you’re selling on. They also should include relevant attributes, for example, product dimensions, material, colour, size, etc. This detailed information will help improve search performance. Additionally, accurate and clearly written product descriptions increase consumer confidence in your products.

Secondly, you need to optimise your content in a way that appeals to browsers and searchers. This requires a more in-depth, nuanced approach to what your customers might be looking for. Why has the consumer visited your listing to begin with? If they are browsing for gifts, what details in the listing might convince them to make a purchasing decision? If they are a returning customer, what product information would they find interesting? Add content that will appeal and resonate specifically with those buyers. Perhaps it’s a how-to video or a link to a soft marketing piece that highlights other consumers using your products.

Harness the power of mobile

Mobile device and cross-device shopping is continuing to grow. Shoppers are accessing online stores and marketplaces from more devices than ever, from tablets to phones to laptops. In 2020, each adult was using an average of 4.4 devices to access the internet, so savvy brands and retailers should ensure their experience remains seamless as they switch devices throughout their purchasing journey.

An optimal mobile experience is also key to capturing shoppers who are instantaneously searching for products — spurred by an advertisement seen on other media (such as television), a conversation with a friend, a product viewed in a brick-and-mortar store or any other spontaneous activity. To prepare for the surge in this activity in the coming months, be certain you’ve implemented high-quality SEO strategies and use repricing tools to remain competitive across selling channels.

Communicate, communicate, communicate

How quickly you can respond in the face of an unexpected issue is critical to providing a good customer experience. By now, most shoppers realise shipping delays and supply disruption can happen, and they are showing more patience with the occasional problem. However, your reaction to the issue will likely determine if they will return as a customer. An incredible 99 percent of Australian shoppers indicated they would consider purchasing from an online retailer again if the retailer was quick to respond to an issue or return. Be honest and upfront about inventory shortages or delivery timelines.

Finally, through it all, regardless of sales channel, delivery option or advertising strategy, maintain a relentless focus on the consumer. From content meant to inspire, advertisements meant to direct traffic, sites meant to provide an immersive online shopping experience and more, every decision must keep consumer behaviour and interests at its core. And you’ll emerge with loyal customer connections and a stronger brand after the 2021 holidays because of it.

ChannelAdvisor is a leading multichannel commerce platform whose mission is to connect and optimise the world’s commerce. For two decades, ChannelAdvisor has helped brands and retailers worldwide improve their online performance by expanding sales channels, connecting with consumers around the world, optimising their operations for peak performance, and providing actionable analytics to improve competitiveness. Thousands of customers depend on ChannelAdvisor to securely power their sales and optimise fulfilment on channels such as Amazon, eBay, Google, Facebook, Fruugo, Kogan.com and hundreds more.

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