The global pandemic has accelerated online shopping, meaning this Christmas retailers need to speed up their online efforts ahead of the festive ecommerce frenzy, according to new research.
As we enter retail’s Golden Quarter, the pressure remains on brands and retailers to maximise this holiday period as the effects of the pandemic continue to be felt. A new trends report from Bazaarvoice offers predictions to help retailers plan for the final quarter of 2020.
The international study, based on Bazaarvoice’s network of more than 6,200 brands and retailer sites, finds:
- Acceleration of online – 85% of retailers believe online sales will increase this holiday season compared to last, with 61% expecting higher engagement and/or purchasing through social media channels. Over half of brands & retailers are investing more in ecommerce website upgrades this holiday season.
- Discount deals – 2019 saw page views increase 31.4% and order count rise 65.9% compared to usual – COVID-19 only looks set to exacerbate this
- Prime Day Delay – Prime Day 2019 (July 15th -16th) saw a 27.05% increase in order count over the typical day, and last year we found that around a fifth of shoppers planned to started their holiday shopping as early as mid-July
- Gift research – July (along with August and September) has one of the highest rates of UGC interaction, highlighting that shoppers are engaging with customer reviews, photos, and questions and answers as they research gifts online
- Consumer want answers – Accelerated customer submissions of reviews and questions has already been seen this year, but October is the month that sees a notable increase in question submission as shoppers intensify their gift shopping with a 4.5% increase last October over the typical month
In recent months consumers have spent a record amount of time online and e-commerce sales have spiked. Although lockdown measures are lifting, the effects are set to shake up the retail scene throughout the rest of the year.
The international study, based on Bazaarvoice’s network of more than 6,200 brands and retailer sites, predicts trends including an acceleration in online shopping, Prime Day momentum, and savvy shopper behaviour:
- Online shopping will accelerate
On the Bazaarvoice Network, each month of lockdown has seen significant growth in page views and order count. With consumers now adjusted to online shopping, social distancing measures still in place and many still cautious, online will remain a priority platform for customers to shop, compare prices, and understand experiences from other customers. In fact, of those surveyed, 85% of retailers think that online sales will increase this holiday season compared to last, and 61% expect higher engagement and/or purchasing through social media channels due to COVID-19. As a result, 55% of respondents say they are investing more in ecommerce website upgrades this holiday season compared to last year, while 54% said the same about social media and social commerce.
- Savvy shoppers will look for sales
While many associate Black Friday and Cyber Monday sales as peak buying days for holiday shoppers, the entire month of November sees elevated page views and order count – in 2019, page views were up 31.4% and order count was up 65.9% compared to usual. With the majority of shoppers (86.8%) saying they purchase gifts during holiday sales to take advantage of the deals, the impact of COVID-19 looks set to exacerbate this as consumers consider their finances more carefully.
Prime Day will still mark the beginning of holiday shopping
In last year’s holiday consumer survey, around a fifth of shoppers planned to start their holiday shopping as early as mid-July, around Amazon Prime Day. While this year’s Prime Day is reported to be delayed until at least October, it remains a key opportunity for retailers and brands to kick start holiday shopping as consumers look for deals and value on other sites too. According to Bazaarvoice network data, which represents shopping activity outside of Amazon, Prime Day 2019 (July 15th -16th) saw a 27.05% increase in order count over the typical day. 90% of brands and retailers say they’re ready to spend as much or more on Prime Day this year than in previous years, and with shoppers hungry for bargains, consumers are likely to up their spending too. Last year 70% of shoppers bought at least one holiday gift during this period.
- UGC will be critical to gift research
July (along with August and September) has one of the highest rates of UGC interaction, highlighting that shoppers are engaging with customer reviews, photos, and questions and answers as they research gifts online. After September, the rate begins to taper off as shoppers commit to holiday buying. It’s critical retailers and brands consider their UGC strategy for the holidays as shoppers look to this content to make purchase decisions.
- Consumers want answers
While the recent spike in online shopping has accelerated customer submissions of reviews and questions this year, the trend was also prevalent in the lead up to the 2019 holidays. There was a notable increase in question submissions in October, at 4.5% more than the typical month. As a result, this holiday season an even higher upward trajectory of user submitted content is expected.
This information is increasingly influencing whether shoppers decide to purchase or not, and brands must be visible to their customers online. 48% of shoppers say brands and retailers responding to reviews improves their odds of buying the product. Bazaarvoice has also found shoppers generally prefer to ask brands questions via social media.
Suzin Wold, SVP Marketing, at Bazaarvoice, comments, “There’s no doubt this Christmas period will be unlike any other, with more online shopping than ever. Retailers must have a holiday-specific plan that gives consumers confidence to purchase from them. It’s vital brands ensure their websites offer a seamless shopping experience and make it easy for customers to find the answers they seek through Q&A, reviews and brand response to maximise revenue opportunities. The impact on sales is clear; we see Q&As on product pages attract a 120% revenue per visitor lift on best-in-class sites and reviews drive a 159% lift in revenue per visitor. This year has been challenging for retailers – they must understand the behaviour changes lockdown has driven and adapt to engage customers effectively this holiday season.”
Bazaarvoice surveyed over 140 brands and retailers in North America, Europe and analysed Bazaarvoice Network data based on more than 6,200 brands and retailer sites from the 2019 holiday season and since the advent of COVID-19.