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How to Prepare for an Uncommon Holiday Shopping Season

Published: September 16, 2020

Author: Joe Kerschbaum

Between COVID-19, a chaotic election cycle, production and supply chain interruptions, and a world that’s gone increasingly virtual, brands have their work cut out for them. Suffice it to say…
Consumer behavior during the 2020 holidays will be very different.
To what degree remains to be seen in the post-holiday data. But, without a doubt, this will be a unique holiday season with a singular set of challenges. Consider the forecast for this year:

  • An eMarketer survey released on July 2nd predicts 18% year-over-year online growth and a 14% decrease in brick-and-mortar spend in 2020.
  • TechCrunch predicts that overall retail will decrease by 10.5% ($571 billion).
  • TechCrunch also expects that while foot traffic will be down, eCommerce will grow by 18% ($108 billion).

Retail faces heightened challenges this holiday season, while at the same time, online shopping is aimed for record growth. Further, people will be shopping even earlier this year.
If you haven’t started your holiday marketing plans yet, you may already be behind. Here are a few tips to help you navigate this year’s busiest—and most unprecedented—time.
For a complete strategy and detailed tactics on what you can do to stay competitive in a turbulent landscape, download our 2020 Holiday Retail Guide.

Prepare for an earlier shopping season—and more shoppers

RetailMeNot reports that 45% of consumers plan to start shopping before November 1. With most of those consumers opting out of travel this year, many of them will be headed online.
Ramp up your digital advertising efforts to take these new shopping expectations into account. Also be aware that with decreased travel, self-gifters will be looking for ideas to promote wellness, well-being, and self-care.

Be mindful of economic realities

As of this writing, U.S. unemployment stands at 8.4 percent. With millions of people out of work, consider highlighting value and affordability within your advertising campaigns.
As our recent CMO survey found, although Amazon and Walmart are winning revenue growth, they can’t compete when it comes to building communities and genuine connections with their customers. Provide an authentic experience that shows empathy as you underscore your offering.

Offer doorbuster deals

To stand out in a saturated market with greatly reduced foot traffic, open your virtual doors early. People won’t have the opportunity to stand in early-hours lines to score a crack-of-dawn deal.
Start these promotions now and be aggressive with them—your potential customers are already looking for them. Make sure your offers and communication are aligned with your business’s supply chain, as shipping times will take longer this year with more people ordering online.
Bonus tip: run retargeting campaigns to bring back cart abandoners.

Here come the holidays

No matter how challenging these times might be, the holidays will still arrive on schedule, and people will still want to celebrate.
Marketers will need to be creative, strategic, and diligent to drive great results this holiday season. These tips are just the beginning—be sure to download our 2020 Holiday Retail Guide for a full framework to help you formulate your holiday marketing plan.

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