The New Normal
2020 is a year to remember. Nothing went as planned or predicted — neither in our social lives nor our businesses.
COVID-19 put e-commerce at the center of transformation. It is believed that the industry went through the changes in the past six months it had been predicted to go through in the next 10 years.
Before we dive into new sales tactics for the rest of 2020, let’s recap what has happened.
Lessons from Q2 2020
Reportedly, retail businesses worldwide lost two-thirds of the projected sales from Q1 to Q2 2020, which is a giant part of the sales season. Many retailers went bankrupt or, in the best case, seized trade temporarily.
Honestly, it looked like the 2008 downturn was back.
But on the other side of the fence, a huge growth for online sales followed. In the first six months of 2020, U.S. consumers alone spent $347.26 billion in online shopping, which is up 30.1% from the same period in 2019.
Such a spike was invoked by the change in consumer behavior. Instead of going out to shop, customers started ordering online. It seemed like a daydream for e-commerce merchants, if only that spike would not bring challenges that almost no business could avoid.
Unexpected delays in shipping and delivery was one of the biggest problems. Even Amazon struggled to ensure fast delivery, offering to ship the ordered items in two months.
Another struggle that businesses faced was shortage in stock. This problem is closely associated with the previous one, as e-commerce businesses couldn’t replenish their inventory on time. Also, some medical products had a limit on orders to prevent stockpiling. As a result, many stores couldn’t keep up with the demand, which impacted sales.
One more issue faced was an enormous increase in website traffic. Server infrastructures, especially ones of small businesses, couldn’t keep up with all the traffic coming their way. They crashed under load, which also resulted in the lost opportunity of additional sales.
Thus, preparing for this holiday season, it’s important to understand how to overcome the existing and upcoming difficulties.
8 Tips to Boost Q4 Sales
Based on insights and extensive analysis, we expect that e-commerce spending will grow even more during the last quarter of 2020. It’s obvious the shoppers will be waiting for online offers instead of brick-and-mortar shops this holiday season.
So, how can you prepare for the biggest sales of 2020? Here is our short but very in-depth guide.
- Go omnichannel. This means use all the available channels to help your customers reach you. Last year, 78% of shoppers used more than three channels to shop within a two-day period of the biggest sales of the season.
- Set up data feeds with your products to grow the number of marketplaces.
- Connect your online store with a safe door delivery service in your area. If customers want their packages to be disinfected, make that happen. And don’t forget to put a badge to promote this on your website’s footer.
- Optimize your online store for speed and reliability. Slow or unstable websites don’t sell; they get abandoned. Rank your pages speed with Google Core Web Vitals. If the score is low, get in touch with a web development company that offers optimization services for both the platform and the server. Customers usually abandon websites that crash or take more than two seconds to load.
- Sync your stock. Test your inventory mechanisms for possible shortages and set up a scheme for still allowing unexpected volumes of orders if possible. For example, a backorder workflow is an option. In this case, make sure the customer is aware.
- Add more visuals to your products where possible. This could be a video of the product or a 3D version that allows the shopper to “touch” the product.
- Narrow down the checkout process. Streamline your purchase flow and make the checkout a single step. The fewer actions customers perform on the checkout the better. Ideally, aim for the experience that allows the buyer to fill in all the data into the checkout fields from autocomplete and then just press that “Place Order” button. If the platform allows it, get yourself the One Step Checkout Extension.
- Educate your help desk support agents. For questions or concerns, create conversation scripts and FAQs to optimize and speed up the communication process. “Usually replies in three hours” is not acceptable for you this year. Aim for replying in minutes, not hours.
A Few Extra Tips
- Sales hunters are starting earlier. Keep in mind that 23% of shoppers start looking for gift suggestions three to six months prior to the holiday itself. Thus, the sooner you start warming up the sales, the better.
- 54% of holiday shopping remains to be completed after the Black Friday/Cyber Monday week. For you, this may mean you want to extend the sales discounts on your website.
- 21% of holiday shopping is completed during the week of Christmas and the week after Christmas.
- Finally, think beyond just the holiday season. Get yourself a marketing calendar to further prepare for year-round shopping at your store.
Get Ready for the Holiday Season
The holiday season of 2020 offers a lot of opportunities for e-commerce businesses. This time is your real chance to get compensation for the lost sales caused by COVID-19.
According to Deloitte’s annual holiday retail forecast, e-commerce sales will grow by 25% to 30% year-over-year during the 2020-2021 holiday season and generate $182-196 billion.
Timely preparation combined with the provided tips will help you circumvent any problems and avoid costly mistakes that can interfere with your successful holiday season.
Vadym Dozorets is the chief operating officer at GoMage. He is a Magento consultant with 10 years of experience with Magento/Magento 2, with more than 200 projects expedited. The projects delivered are both B2C and B2B of all sizes. Connect with him on LinkedIn.