Your 2020 Holiday Retail Strategy & Planning Guide

Make this extraordinary shopping season extra special in every moment

The 2020 holiday shopping season will make history. Not because of record-breaking sales or achieving predictions made in the pre-COVID era, but because it will look so different from seasons past. That makes forecasting and subsequent operational planning nearly impossible. Restricted travel, shipping capacity strains, unpredictable lockdowns, political unease, store closures, and heightened concerns over health and safety will shape the season.

There’s no doubt the pandemic is changing retail, from a flood of new digital consumers to requirements for contactless experiences. In Q2 2020 alone, digital commerce grew 71%. And with Prime Day in October versus its traditional July advent, there will be a seismic shift in retail demand that’s earlier than ever this holiday season. As retailers plan for the busiest shopping period of the year, an extra understanding of what shoppers need, extra thoughtful communication, and extra ways to shop will go a long way.

In Q2 2020 alone, digital commerce grew 71%
Salesforce created this guide to support retailers on the journey to the 2020 holidays. With input from leading industry experts, data-rich insights, and a finger on the pulse of changing shopping behaviors, it includes everything you need to go the extra mile in a historic season.
What will you learn?
This guide is broken into the five components to holiday 2020 planning:
Salesforce for Retail can help you add a little extra to every moment for your shoppers this holiday season. 
Chapter 1: Add some extras to your commerce experience to meet historic demand
Learn the steps to get your commerce channels ready for the 2020 holiday season.
A Salesforce consumer research study conducted June 16-17, 2020, found that 47% of global shoppers are more interested in shopping online for the holidays this year compared to last year.
47% of global shoppers are more interested in shopping online for the holidays this year compared to last year
With little tolerance for friction in what is becoming a primary shopping channel, every engagement and response matters to shoppers. Coupled with sustained demand for ecommerce following stay-at-home orders, retailers can go the extra mile to elevate the commerce experience with these tips.

Get a complete view of your customer

Connect marketing, commerce, and service channels for a 360-degree view of your customer. From a single platform, you can access valuable shopper information across touchpoints and deliver the most relevant experiences. Learn how with our playbook.

Prepare your site for the surge in traffic

There was a 71% increase in same-site digital sales in Q2 of 2020. With sites seeing Black Friday-like traffic surges in April and May, retailers will likely continue to see a sustained increase in traffic through the year. To ensure a smooth holiday season, focus on site reliability.
71% increase in same-site digital sales
Make sure you’re testing on an ongoing basis — including every delivery and QA process — to determine peak traffic thresholds. Collect common performance metrics such as site speed and load time (check out the chart below for digital storefront ranges) as well as experience metrics like sales conversion rate and bounce rate.
  • Home Page: 100-250ms
  • Product Search/Listing: 250-500ms
  • Product Detail: 250ms-500ms
  • Cart: 500-1000ms
  • Checkout: 1,000-1,500ms
  • Place Order: 1,500-2,000ms
  • All Other Experiences: 500ms
Strive to cache 90% of editorial content (for example, your home page) and 50%–70% of product-specific content. Take the following steps:
Strive to cache 90% of editorial content

1. Identify the most-visited storefront experiences

2. Determine the percentage of cached requests

3. Raise the percentage without invalidating the experience (e.g., improve caching without degrading personalization)

4. Find the percentage of cached content that’s not reused and prevent future caching of it

Confirm support levels with third-party vendors as well. Mitigate stress on your system with a governance policy. Tie monitoring events to third-party failures and set automatic notifications to your team if problems occur.

Give every experience a personal touch

With fewer shoppers returning to the store, artificial intelligence (AI) will play a key role in facilitating the shopping journey, from product discovery to checkout. Use AI in these ways:
  • Site search: Embed AI into search dictionaries to surface the most relevant term based on behavioral and customer data.
  • Product sort: Customize the order in which products appear in search and category pages based on shopper behavior.
  • Product recommendations: Remove labor-intensive merchandising activities to deliver highly personalized product recommendations based on shopping behaviors.
  • Commerce insights: Gain deep insight into products typically purchased together to create popular product bundles.
  • Post-purchase emails: Deploy post-purchase emails with relevant new products. Use product recommendations sparingly, however, on receipts and account confirmations as a helpful, secondary element.
Discover what AI can do for your brand with Einstein for Commerce. 

Use ecommerce to give back to your community

With many people out of work, retailers can play an important role in supporting communities during this time. Consider offering a buy one/give one program — you can set it up easily with Commerce Cloud and Marketing Cloud. Or, offer digital food donations in lieu of physical products.

More Resources

Write a COVID-19 V2MOM
Create an actionable corporate strategy for reopening your office locations.
How to Source Personal Protective Equipment (PPE)
Discover a general framework for sourcing PPE for your organization’s needs.
Create a COVID-19 Employee FAQ
Make a one-stop-shop on your COVID response and office reopening procedures.

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