03.11.2020 @ 14:18

The largest event in e-commerce history? ‘Tis the season

Black Friday, Cyber Monday and 11.11 (Singles’ Day) 2020 almost here: get ready for a holiday sales tsunami

Sometimes, change happens slowly. Other times it chases you down like that boulder at the beginning of Indiana Jones. In 2020, change is fully in boulder mode. And the holiday season is when it either catches up with you or you leap triumphantly from the temple entrance, golden statue in hand.

The shopping season kicks off on 11 November, with the 11.11 Global Shopping Holiday (formerly Singles’ Day). According to analysts, Alibaba and its merchants are on track to rack up $45 billion worth of sales on Singles Day alone [1], up from $38 billion last year [2]. And if last year’s results are anything to go by, a large proportion of those sales will go to non-Chinese companies. Last year brands such as Bose, Estée Lauder, Gap, Levi’s, Nike, The North Face and Apple all made over 1 billion yuan ($143 million) on Singles’ Day [3].

Increasingly, US and European consumers are also participating in Singles’ Day. However, both markets shift into proper holiday mode with Black Friday on 27 November. And there is every indication that this, too, will be bigger in 2020 than ever before.

Adobe Marketing Insights predicts a 20% increase in e-commerce spend over the Black Friday to Cyber Monday weekend [4]. Looking at the holiday season as a whole, Deloitte forecasts that seasonal e-commerce — online spending  is expected to grow by up to 35%, compared with just 14% last year [5].

But that doesn’t mean you can just relax and wait for the holiday season sales to rack up. As well as driving customers online, lockdown has also disrupted brand loyalties. During lockdown more than two-thirds of customers in some markets have tried a new product or service and of these, a quarter do not plan to return to their old habits once lockdown has ended [6].

Old shopping loyalties have been upended, and that means their holiday-season shopping is up for grabs.

For instance, 43% of over-65s are now shopping online compared to just 16% before lockdown [7]. For online merchants the grandparent present budget just became accessible. But to win your share of it, you have to provide a customer experience that this demographic will love.

Making the checkout page a priority

The question then, is how to prepare your merchants’ or your own e-commerce site for the holiday shopping season. It’s only a few weeks until Black Friday, so there’s no time to lose. You need to find out where gaps are in your customer journey, and plug them, before those customers run away to someone else.

The customer experience at checkout is particularly crucial. One of the surest ways to lose customer trust at the checkout, is by not offering shoppers’ preferred payment methods. According to research by PPRO, up to 50% of customers have abandoned a transaction because the merchant did not offer their preferred payment method [8].

It’s a question of localisation. Except in this case, you’re not necessarily localising for customers in a particular geography. Instead, you might consider localising for consumers in a particular age group who are now shopping online for the first time. Or customers from a range of demographics who have never shopped online for a particular category.

No one size fits all when it comes to global payment preferences

If you want to succeed in global e-commerce, you must offer the preferred payment methods for every market and demographic you want to win over.

Worldwide, consumers use alternative or local payment methods in more than 70% of all consumer transactions [9]. These are the payment methods whole markets and demographics grew up with online and trust. Fail to offer them and you can have the best possible customer journey, but you’ll still lose basket after basket at the checkout.

With the acceleration of e-commerce and the influx of online competition, anyone who hasn’t optimised their payments offering will be desperately racing to catch up. Merchants and PSPs need to think now about how they are going to maximise their revenue from what looks to be the biggest online holiday season ever. And payments is a crucial part of that conversation.

1. https://techcrunch.com/2020/09/09/u-s-holiday-shopping-season-on-mobile-expected-to-be-largest-to-date-topping-1b-hours-on-android
2. https://www.cnbc.com/2019/11/11/alibaba-singles-day-2019-record-sales-on-biggest-shopping-day.html
3. https://www.forbes.com/sites/sergeiklebnikov/2019/11/12/alibabas-1111-singles-day-heres-which-brands-profited-the-most/#25ea1a164863
4. https://www.thedrum.com/opinion/2020/09/15/strong-ecommerce-strategy-key-black-friday-2020
5. https://www.digitalcommerce360.com/2020/09/16/online-holiday-sales-to-surge-25-35/
6. https://www.alixpartners.com/insights-impact/insights/covid-19-disrupts-brand-loyalties
7. https://www.essentialretail.com/news/elderly-consumers-drive-ecommerce
8. https://www.pymnts.com/news/payment-methods/2018/ppro-ecommerce-local-payment-options
9. Original PPRO research.

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