The 2023 Holiday Season Starts Now for E-Commerce

The 2023 Holiday Season Starts Now for E-Commerce

It's safe to say that this year's holiday season will be a big one. In 2022, Shopify experienced a 19% increase in sales compared to the previous year. The same trend held true in 2021, surpassing the records set during the infamous pandemic year of 2020. Moreover, the economic outlook for this season appears quite promising, all things considered. While consumer confidence took a hit last July, it has steadily rebounded since then, and inflation is on the decline. We're officially out of the 2020 e-commerce bump and back on a relatively steady growth trajectory. From all the research we've conducted, it's safe to say that this holiday season is expected to be outstanding.

With all this in mind, what should you do?

There are approximately 1,000 Black Friday Cyber Monday (BFCM) guides, ebooks, and webinars out there, but I'm here to tell you that you don't really need to read them.

There are really three key things we're considering—well, there's some other stuff too, but let's stick with three.

#1 - It's Not Just Black Friday

We all know this, but it's worth repeating: the holiday season starts early. There were Halloween items on sale at Shaws last month, proving that holiday creep is real. Black Friday isn't confined to a single day; it's not even just Black Friday Cyber Monday (BFCM). It's essentially the entire holiday season, running from November 1 through December 25.

However, that doesn't mean it's all the same. We can break the season down into three main periods:

Early Bird/Pre-season: This spans from November 1 to November 14. 

BFCM: You can draw the line between Early Bird and Black Friday whenever you like, but we're defining it as running from November 15 to November 29. 

December Shoppers: This phase extends from November 30 to December 25. Each of these periods can, of course, be further subdivided. For instance, during BFCM, it's essential to have specific messaging for Black Friday on the actual day and Cyber Monday on Monday. As we approach December, the messaging should shift from "great gifts to buy" to shipping deadlines, considering the decreasing time available for delivery. This segmentation provides a useful framework for planning.

Notably, as the pre-season has extended into the first few weeks of November, it's crucial to recognize that competition will intensify, and many families may complete their gift shopping earlier.

#2 - More is Better

During Q4, more is better—more social media posts, more emails, and bigger advertising budgets. We're aware that inboxes will be flooded, social feeds saturated, and advertising costs will rise. Will some people unsubscribe? Yes. Will it matter? No, especially since we have numerous messages to convey over the course of two months. Therefore, more is unequivocally better.

What does this mean right now? It's an excellent time to start drafting pre-season and December messaging. There's no reason to wait for chilly mornings to write the gift guide we plan to release in early December. Pumpkin spice is already in the air.

#3 - Shoppers Will Expect Discounts

Here's the challenge: sustaining discounts for two months can be tough. It's taxing, less profitable, and customers' expectations have risen to demand even deeper discounts. A 20% reduction doesn't feel like much anymore.

To address this during the extended holiday season, we should incorporate variety, flexibility, and stability into our offers. We can achieve this in a few ways:

  • Trade margin for volume by promoting bundles and volume discounts.
  • Offer additional perks that don't significantly impact our bottom line, such as free gifts, gift wrapping, or expedited shipping. These little incentives can be reasons to buy on a given day.
  • Avoid complex stacked discounts and convoluted sales strategies. Successful holiday promotions, especially during the peak season, are simple and straightforward. Next week, we'll provide a list of our recommended promotions to run.

And that's a wrap (pun intended)! Ideally, you've already had your holiday plans in place for months. If not, let's address that now.

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