It’s September, which means that just over the horizon is the end of the year shopping season and mega-sales days. With all of the uncertainty that 2020 has brought, we want our clients to be as ready as possible to make the most of the end of the year shopping season.
Due to the Covid-enforced lockdowns we’ve experienced this year we’ve seen several digital trends accelerate; more of us of all ages are comfortable shopping online, using digital technology to connect with each other and stay informed or entertained at home.
Combining this growth in digital fluency with the increased price-sensitivity among many consumers now facing financial challenges means that this end-of-year season is predicted to be one of the biggest online shopping seasons ever.
Key Dates & Mega-Sales Days
When we talk about end-of-year shopping season, we’re not just talking about December and the lead up to Christmas. For NZ online stores we recommend planning for sales beginning from Labour Weekend onwards. Here’s our list of the “Mega-Sales” days and major seasonal shopping periods ahead:
October 23rd – Labour Weekend
November 11th – Singles Day
November 27th – Black Friday
November 30th – Cyber Monday/Click Frenzy
From December 1st – Christmas shopping online orders
December 26th – Boxing Day
December 31st – New Year’s and Summer Sales
All of these dates can be utilised to drive sales, but to maximize results over the full season will require a bit of planning now, which will pay off for the rest of the year and into Summer 2021.
In this article, we will highlight some key trends to be aware of for this year’s holiday season shopping and provide some practical recommendations and resources for you to use to make the most of your e-commerce sales over the next few months.
Insights For The 2020 Shopping Season
Insight #1: Increased Price-Sensitivity + Mega-Sales Days
With uncertainty in the job market and reductions in wages or work hours due to the pandemic, many of your customers are likely to be more price-sensitive than they were previously. This is going to drive increased online shopping activity around the “Mega Sales” events like Black Friday, Cyber Monday, Singles Day and into the Christmas shopping season. In New Zealand, we see this activity kicking off as early as Labour weekend in late October, with large retailers beginning their sales strategy for the end of the year around that time.
Recommendation: Plan. Plan. Plan.
- The Mega-Sales days are likely to be bigger than ever this year and you need to plan ahead to make the most of them. Plan your campaigns to match targeting, creative, and timing to reach the right audience at the right time in the right way, and thereby maximise your sales this season. To do this right takes planning ahead so everything comes together effectively.
- Think through your key goals for this season; what sales targets and ROI’s do you want to achieve?
- Ensure Your E-Commerce Platform Is Ready For The Increase in Activity (see more in recommendations to Insight #3, below)
- Make sure your stock levels, delivery and distribution systems are all up to scratch, and if there are any issues with inventory or delivery times, don’t be shy in communicating this on your website and other channels to your customers.
- Google Shopping Campaigns – work with your account manager to ensure your product feed quality is on-par, and ensure any new products are loaded and approved in your Merchant Centre account well ahead of major sales periods.
- Use social media advertising and the tools available (like Facebook Events) to help build awareness and excitement amongst your target audiences for your sales days.
Talk to us to get started sooner rather than later, so your business is ready for the mega-sales season ahead of us. We’ve included a helpful planning calendar with recommended campaign lead times to help at the link below.
Insight #2: The Multi-Touchpoint Consumer Journey & “Messy Middle”
Consumers are researching weeks ahead of making purchases. This means the marketing for your sales days should ideally begin weeks ahead of the day itself, when your audience begins browsing and researching in categories they’re interested in.
A customer’s journey to purchase will likely involve multiple touch points with your brand as they move through awareness – consideration and evaluation – towards the final purchase, which is more likely to be made around the key mega-sales days this season.
Google’s research has identified what is termed, “the messy middle” – a time between the trigger to start shopping and the purchase itself. During this time, people look for information about a category’s products and brands and then weigh all the options. It’s a time of exploration and evaluation.
The consumer journey and “messy middle” can be represented in Google Analytics’ conversion pathway report. In this example, a series of conversions have taken place after the users have visited the website multiple times; first via a paid search ad, then twice more via directly entering the website url, then via an organic search result, then once more via directly entering the url, then via a social media remarketing ad, then 8 more times via directly visiting the site. Everything between the initial search and final purchase can be considered the “messy middle” – a time of exploration and evaluation.
Think of some of your own online shopping behaviours, and how many sources or channels you typically use or encounter along the way before making a purchase. Often, this will happen across a range of online sources, such as search engines, social media, price aggregators, and review websites.
Recommendations: Be Present Where & When Your Customers Are Online
Succeeding in the “messy middle” means ensuring your brand is strategically top of mind while your customers explore and evaluate. Use the full suite of digital marketing tools to ensure you’re present when potential customers are searching for products or services you offer. These include:
- YouTube and Google Display and Discovery Ads.
- Google Smart Shopping campaigns, which cover remarketing across multiple placements (YouTube, Gmail, Google Display Network placements).
- Facebook and Instagram Shops.
- Google Search
Insight #3: Your Online Shoppers Might Not Be Who You Expect
There has been an acceleration in the adoption of technology by older audiences – Google reports that 34% of digital purchasers are now over the age of 50, and use of mobiles for online shopping by Baby Boomers grew 18% in 2019. That trend has only grown this year.
Recommendation: Make Shopping With You Easy
- Expect more of your sales to older age groups to be made online this year and ensure your website – on desktop and mobile – is as friction-free as possible.
- Reduce friction – simply put, make it as easy as possible for people to buy from you online.
- Optimise for mobile. Use Google’s Test My Site tool (available for free here) to check your website’s speed and useability on mobile devices, and try shopping yourself – be honest and identify the areas where you think your customers could get stuck navigating your website?
Insight #4: Locals Supporting Locals.
The locals are coming. There’s a growing “support local” awareness and matching shopping behaviour, with 66% of consumers surveyed planning to shop more at local businesses, and 61% claiming that shopping local is important for their communities.
Recommendation: Get Ready For The Locals
- Think of ways that you can reach your local neighbourhood, highlighting click and collect and contactless services, as well as your local ownership and NZ-made products.
- Make sure you’re well set up for click-and-collect and/or contactless delivery, and emphasise this in your social content, ad creative and on your website.
- If you’ve been doing these things already, do a check on how seamless your service is and if there are areas you could improve if needed. Have friends or staff members test your service and invite honest feedback – and be prepared to make any changes necessary to improve your service if needed.
Insight #5: Your Audience Want To Hear From You
Your audience wants to hear from you – an average of 74% of people surveyed want to see brand activity on Facebook and Instagram during year-end. However, this year, more than ever, your content needs to be authentic, informative and empathetic to your customers’ needs and concerns, alongside providing clear information on your sales and contactless processes.
Think of creating appropriate content for posting and promoting across your social media channels and set aside a budget to be able to boost or promote your posts so they are seen and spread by your followers. This will help retain top-of-mind awareness with your current followers, and reaching new audiences through creative, relatable content.
Recommendation: Plan and Post Regular, Quality Content
- Plan an outline for your content ahead of time for the shopping season.
- Use your social media and emails to communicate with your followers. However, remember to keep it real. Your social content this season should aim to be informative, authentic, and provide updates on key sales dates.
- Communicate authentically with your customers – help people understand your values and how you’ve responded to this year’s challenges. Remember on social media, your approach should be that of talking to friends, not shouting at strangers.
- Your content should emphasise telling rather than selling – This season, focus on building your brand and showcase how your brand has helped support people through the pandemic in a clear and simple way.
- Be available on social channels to answer any customer services queries via Messenger and social media comments.
- Plan. Plan. Plan. – Be ready for the mega-sales days, and plan for customers to be browsing and researching weeks ahead of time to buy online during sales.
- Be Present Where & When Your Customers Are Online – Make sure your campaign strategy makes your brand easy to find across the entire customer journey, from awareness to purchase.
- Make Shopping With You Easy – Reduce any friction in your online shopping process. Make sure your website is user-friendly (with older users in mind too), that you’re easy to contact for customer support, and your inventory and distribution is ready for what could be the biggest online shopping season ever.
- Emphasise local, and your NZ-links in your social content. Also, be empathetic and authentic online this season.
- Communicate! Plan and post regular, quality content for your audience, and be available on social channels to answer any questions via Messenger and social media comments.
We have created a set of free online resources for our clients to download and use at the links below, as well as some further links to additional research, resources and creative inspiration from Google and Facebook.
Feel free to use the resources below, and talk to your account manager or one of our digital specialists soon to discuss getting started on your 2020 shopping season plan, and make the most of what could be one of the biggest online shopping seasons ever.
Online Shopping season Resources:
Additional Resources and Creative Tips:
- Facebook IQ, Christmas Unwrapped, https://www.facebook.com/business/insights/tools/holiday-season/tags/australia
- Think with Google, How the pandemic may affect holiday shopping https://www.thinkwithgoogle.com/consumer-insights/pandemic-holiday-shopping/
- Think with Google, How people decide what to buy lies in the ‘messy middle’ of the purchase journey,
We’d love to chat with you about your Holiday Season Digital Strategy. Get in touch with our team by calling us on +64 9 950 5320 or fill out the form on our Contact Us page and we’ll come back to you as soon as possible.