This year, shoppers — and retailers — lose almost an entire week of holiday shopping, thanks to a U.S. Thanksgiving day that’s six days later than last year. This presents a unique challenge for retailers who seek more revenue gains in less time. How will this affect the year’s biggest buying season?
We’ve crunched the numbers and crafted our predictions on what’s shaping up to be a fascinating holiday. Below are our top five holiday shopping predictions using the shopping data of over half a billion global shoppers, a proprietary study of ecommerce sites, and a survey of more than 10,000 consumers.
1. Ecommerce revenue will spread good cheer across the globe
Despite market pressures — such as the U.S. and China trade war, a mixed bag of retailer earnings, shifting spending patterns, and a shorter season — shoppers are still gearing up to feed the holiday frenzy. Based on Salesforce Commerce Cloud data, we forecast sustained and solid U.S. digital revenue growth this holiday season at 13% year over year (YoY) — and total sales of $136B — from November 1 to December 31.
International markets will carry global growth overall, as we anticipate a slightly higher rate of global digital revenue growth at 15% YoY and total sales of $768B. These findings indicate a strong U.S. influence on international shopping habits.
2. Retailers will create early moments to drive demand
With fewer days to engage and convert, we expect to see retailers manufacturing demand earlier in the season with special product drops, creative collaborations, and limited-inventory promotions. While 50% of the season’s digital revenue will be completed the Friday (December 6) after Cyber Week — the same day as last year — Holiday 2019 spending will stretch out beyond the historical top shopping days. Case in point: Retailers will create reasons to break out the credit card well before Black Friday. In fact, our data shows that the Tuesday and Wednesday before Thanksgiving will achieve big gains in global digital revenue, growing 19% YoY. Shoppers are no longer waiting for Black Friday or Cyber Monday to kick off the shopping season.
3. Click and collect extends the buying window
As shoppers race to place orders before retailers’ ground shipping deadline on December 14, retailers will look to grow revenue in a shorter season with a critical tool: click and collect, also known as buy online, pick up in-store (BOPIS). Click and collect will extend the longevity of retail revenue by allowing shoppers to continue purchasing well after December 14, provided they’re willing to make a quick pick-up trip to the store before Christmas.
This service will be a digital retailer’s best friend: Ecommerce sites offering in-store order pickup will see 28% higher revenue share during the last five days of the season, compared to their store-owning peers who don’t provide the same experience.
What’s more, retailers with click and collect will attract 48% more active digital shoppers to their sites in the last five days before December 25 versus those that don’t. We define active shoppers as those who create baskets, start checkouts, engage in site search, and perform similar high-engagement activities.
4. Holiday journeys will move to the edge
Shopping used to be such a discrete activity: Go to a retailer’s store or a website and make a purchase. Today, however, nearly one in ten purchases occur on emerging digital purchase points like social media, messaging platforms, and voice assistants — channels that are completely separate from brand and retailer properties. We define these off-property touchpoints as the “edge of shopping.” A survey of 10,000 global consumers reveals that on average, shoppers use eight different channels to engage with brands across the shopping journey. This holiday, we expect to see more shopping move to the edge, particularly with younger shoppers who are 3.5x more likely than older generations to purchase on these emerging digital intermediaries.
Here’s a glimpse at our predictions for a few of these digital experience and purchasing touchpoints:
- Email marketing: An impressive 68% of shoppers say they pay more attention to companies’ emails during the holidays. Last year, Cyber Week saw a 20% YoY increase in emails sent to shoppers.
- Instagram: Twenty percent of shoppers — and 37% of Gen Zers — say Instagram will be their preferred source of holiday shopping inspiration.
- Mobile buying: Mobile has officially eclipsed desktop for digital order share, and mobile devices will rack up 52% across the season. Seventy percent of digital visits will come from a mobile device, with peak days closer to 75%.
5. Where deals and relevancy flow, shoppers will go
During the holidays, bargain-hunting can feel like a competitive sport. And the competition is fierce:
- Forty-seven percent of shoppers go so far as saying they’ll only buy items on sale this holiday.
- Shoppers also say sales or promo codes are the #1 factor influencing their holiday purchases.
- A full 67% of shoppers say they plan to buy more from online marketplaces like Amazon during holiday 2019.
In return for their deal-hunting, shoppers will enjoy even greater digital discounts from retailers, especially before Cyber Week begins, with discount rates growing 9% the week before Cyber Week. Cyber Monday will remain the best day of the year for scoring the best digital discounts, with an average discount rate of 29%.
But beyond slashing prices, how will retailers maintain their margins and balance sky-high consumer expectations? The answer is personalization. With artificial intelligence coming of age, personalization and relevancy will be the antidote to the discount standoff between retailers and shoppers. Last year, buyers that engaged with product recommendations powered by AI had a 26% higher average order value compared to shoppers that did not. AI will put the right product at the right place at the right time, especially on mobile, salvaging retailers’ margins and rewarding shoppers with the products that they want. Personalization is a win-win, and no one has to compromise.
As we gear up for an exciting 2019 holiday shopping season, we’ll continue to monitor half a billion global shoppers’ activities and share the biggest retail news. Follow along with us in our new holiday insights hub.