How to Prepare Your Business for Holiday Season 2020

October 9, 2020

Typically, marketers look at previous years’ holiday trends to plan how to best approach the coming holiday season. However, like most things in 2020, this year’s holiday season is not going to look like any other.

Let’s take a look at the trends you can expect to see this holiday season, and how to best prepare your business for them.

What to expect for holiday season 2020:

1. No surprise, e-commerce will dominate holiday shopping

With its all-night lineups, thick crowds, and people literally trampling one another to snag the season’s hottest gifts, holiday shopping has long been a nightmare. Now, in the midst of a global pandemic, it’s unimaginable.

Shopping, for the most part, has turned virtual. In June, online retail sales were 30% higher in America, and BOPIS (buy online pick-up in-store) orders more than doubled globally.

There’s no doubt that this trend will continue throughout the holiday season. Criteo’s “Peak to Recovery” survey showed that although the majority of people missed going to physical stores, instead of donning face masks and waiting in lines, 88% of shoppers plan to continue buying gifts online and having them delivered directly to recipients.

Even Black Friday doorbusters will go virtual. Several stores, including Walmart, Target, and Best Buy, have dropped the surprising news that they will keep their doors closed on Black Friday in response to the pandemic. It is likely that other stores will follow suit, and in-store deals will be replaced with online discounts.

2. Wish lists will match lifestyle changes

For once, the mantra “new year, new me” may have rung true. In Criteo’s survey, 55% of Americans saw the pandemic as an opportunity to make lifestyle changes. Many rediscovered hobbies in 2020 that will likely be sticking around:

  • 52% cooking at home
  • 36% exercising at home
  • 26% working from home
  • 25% gardening

Holiday wish lists will undoubtedly reflect these new lifestyle changes. Certain items have become essential to many being self-isolated – including arts and crafts supplies and home workout equipment. As new personas such as the “home office worker,” “home student,” or “home exerciser” have emerged during the pandemic, related products have been flying off the (virtual) shelves.

3. Peak shopping season will be earlier than ever

Here’s some good news – holiday shopping may not be as stressful as usual. In a survey by OnePoll, 47% responded that they were using (or planned to use) the extra downtime that the pandemic offered to get ahead of their holiday shopping.

An autumn Amazon Prime Day, happening October 13th-14th, could also kick-off “big deals season” putting deal hunters in the mood to shop earlier. Following in suit, Walmart and Target are also launching their own sales events with what they both describe as “Black Friday pricing.”

These sales could effectively smooth out the spikes in traffic that usually occur in late November.

How to prepare your business for the holidays

1. Focus on your most valuable audiences

In order to use your budget effectively, make sure you are reaching out to the people who are most interested.

  • Review previous and active campaigns to understand what is working for your customers.
  • Adapt campaign settings by using all targeting defaults for both keyword and product-based targeting to ensure your campaigns reach relevant audiences.
    Evolve your brand creatives and messaging to reflect your audience’s current situation.
  • Add additional touchpoints with shoppers who visited over the past few months by serving up relevant offers for the holiday season.

2. Offer the smoothest possible shopping experience

For some, online shopping is still a daunting experience. For this reason, maintaining a smooth customer experience from the moment they click your site to when they receive their package on their doorstep is key to maintaining positive relationships with your customers.

  • Website performance is paramount: prepare to put your site to the test, making sure your web and mobile applications can withstand the surge of holiday shoppers. You can’t afford to have your website crash at any moment — so performance and load testing is crucial.
  • Be realistic and clear about shipping fees and return policies. According to an online shopper study, 79% of shoppers will stop shopping with a merchant after a bad returns experience.

3. Have a plan for discoverability

Unlike in-person, the competition online is virtually endless (no pun intended). It is more important than ever to have a strategy to drive customers online.

  • Use intent data to evaluate real customer journeys: shopping intent data allows you to target customers based on their actual shopping habits, not just assumptions. Use this data to drive results across websites, apps, and stores.
  • Improve discoverability with special deals: to avoid getting lost in the world of unseen products, improve discoverability by adding deals for promoted products to feature the “deal badge.”
  • Prioritize paid content: running sponsored brands, products, and display campaigns help increase the visibility of your ads. Testing variables like headline copy, featured products, and destination pages two to three weeks before peak holiday shopping can also help increase the effectiveness of your campaigns.

4. Be aware of the emotional context of your ads

This year more than ever, empathy is an essential part of marketing. The wrong message in the wrong place cannot only be ineffective but damaging to your brand. Consider how your target audience’s lifestyles have changed, and what they are wanting and needing to hear.

  • Be sure to highlight how your business is doing its part to keep customers safe, such as contactless pickup or community donations.
  • Suggest pandemic-friendly ways for customers to enjoy your products, and make sure ads reflect the “new normal.”

Let us help you prepare for the holidays

This season doesn’t have to be daunting. Feel confident navigating the new digital world with the agency that does digital best. From web development to social media marketing, we’ve got your back. Chat with us about how we can help you thrive this holiday season.