tabby cat lying under christmas tree with gifts

6 Top Online Shopping Trends You Need To Know Of

I love movies, and one of my favorite’s Christmas comedies is Arnold’s Jingle All the Way (1996) where two parents are both desperately trying to purchase an action figure for their respective sons on a last-minute shopping spree on Christmas eve. The interesting part of this movie is that it was inspired by real-life seasonal toy sell-outs and Black Friday blowout sales. If that chaos was a common thing 25 years ago; now imagine what a pandemic economy, supply chain woes, labor shortages and limited inventory capacity will do to the holiday online shopping experience. 

Fortunately, Google search and social media makes our gift giving less chaotic because more brands and small businesses showcase their products and we, the consumer, can look for online shopping recommendations, inspiration and last-minute gifts without fighting Santa’s helpers to get our hands in the precious toy.

Whether you are planning your gift giving list, you own a small business or are in charge of the marketing campaign, there are some interesting trends for this upcoming holiday season you should keep in mind.

Holiday Sales

According to Google, BigCommerce and eMarketer, holiday retail sales will grow 2.7% to $1,093 trillion and e-commerce will surpass the $10 billion mark in Black Friday and Cyber Monday sales alone.

Deloitte, on the other hand, forecasts that e-commerce sales will grow by 11-15%, reaching between $210 billion and $218 billion this season. The interesting side of this trend is that restaurants and service providers will grow at a faster pace due to consumers feeling more comfortable being outdoors now that vaccines are available, while retail will continue to grow at a steady pace by 7-9%. 

40% of U.S. shoppers have already started their holiday shopping, according to new research from Google and Ipsos.

Shipping and Handling

Because of shipping delays and labor shortages, delivery companies face a “capacity crunch”, retailers most likely will turn to gig economy companies like DoorDash, Instacart and Postmates to deliver the merchandise. 

Large retailers like Bed Bath & Beyond, Best Buy, Banana Republic, PetSmart and Sam’s Club have already partnered with these delivery companies for this upcoming holiday season. Although small retailers can benefit by using delivery services, the returning process is still a concern due to S&H costs and software limitations.

Curbside pickup and BOPIS are here to stay. Although they prove to be useful during the pandemic; consumers want to keep this modality as it is convenient to research products online and then buy them in-store, buying them online skipping the line and picking them up at the location, attracting foot-traffic and increasing brick and mortar sales.

Social Media

92% of online shoppers will continue using social media in their decision-making process. Because consumers expect supply chain delays, shoppers are using Google Search, Bing and Instagram to help them find retailers that carry products they have in their gifting list.

E-commerce platforms like Shopify and Bigcommerce will continue to integrate social media to list their catalogs. Although the most common platform is Instagram, Google Merchant Center is making its move offering free listing to retailers, SEM with optimized catalogs can see up to a 3.8% increase in website traffic. 

US retail sales through social media will rise by 34.8% in 2021, reaching $36.09 billion, according to eMarketer.

Small Businesses

60% of U.S. consumers say they will shop more at local small businesses to support job creation and the local economy. 

Because of the pandemic, local shops now have an online presence capturing consumer interest early on and offering a more personalized experience, securing foot traffic and sales. However, lack of IT infrastructure and a better understanding of e-commerce practices will continue to challenge small business owners operations and budget.

Mobile Online Shopping.

Approximately 61% of Google search results come from a mobile device and retail buying through mobile devices accounts for almost 54% of online orders, according to Statista. 

Mobile online shopping, or M-commerce, will rise in the coming years as e-commerce grows to become a larger portion of total U.S. retail sales. Shopify forecasts that this channel will likely grow 12.2% in 2021, beating traditional ecommerce and in-store shopping. 

Search engines are clocking onto this and penalizing sites that don’t deliver seamless mobile shopping experiences. Google’s shift to mobile-first indexing, for example, takes the mobile experience of a site into consideration when determining where each page should rank—even if the searcher loads it on a desktop.

Direct To Consumer Retail

BlueCart expects the DTC market to grow in 2021 to $20 billion worldwide. This is a 15% increase year-over-year and the trend will continue to grow at a steady pace. Artisan food with a subscription model dominates the DTC industry, followed by fashion technology and pets.

Social media trends (unboxing experience) boosted DTC sales while at the same time caused DTC companies to invest in custom branded packaging, a trend that will continue as new Instagram or TikTok challenges emerge.

Consumers expect delays for their holiday online shopping and, contrary to past experiences, are more open than ever to using social media to find new brands and shop locally to get what they want.

Key Points

  • Search engines and social media will continue to help shoppers find retailers that carry products they want.
  • Because of delivery and logistics crunches, BOPIS will continue to be preferred by consumers, attracting foot-traffic and increasing brick and mortar sales.
  • M-commerce will rise in the coming years as e-commerce grows to become a larger portion of total U.S. retail sales.
  • US retail sales through social media will continue to rise.
  • Personalized experience using automations and customer service will increase conversion rate for online shopping. 
  • For local small businesses, Google My Business and Google Merchant Center will continue to be the best option to list their products and attract foot-traffic to their shop.
  • For DTC and home-based businesses, advertising on social media channels and using search ads for M-commerce will most likely improve the conversion rate. 
  • Consumers will continue to shop from brands that recognize, remember, and provide relevant offers and product recommendations. 
  • Personalizing online experience can increase conversion rates by 5% according to McKinsey.

What are GR Notes?

I believe valuable content should be accessible, that is why we created GR Notes, a free resource with important information for marketers, businesses, and creative geniuses who want to keep ahead of the competition.

Every Friday I will be sharing highlights, key points, and foreseeable trends on digital marketing topics that matter to you. Think of GR Notes as flashcards, but way better.

Down the rabbit hole

Better known as that extra just for the geek inside you 😉

  • DTC Brands: Direct-to-consumer brands are known for selling directly to customers online, bypassing the “middlemen” of wholesalers and retailers. Associated with Millennial shoppers. Some examples include Casper, Harry’s, Rent the Runway, Dollar Shave Club and Stitch Fix
  • BOPIS: Buy Online, Pick up In-Store; it is also referred to as click and collect, curbside pickup, and ROPIS (reserve online, pick up in-store)

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