The world of eCommerce has seen mass changes caused by COVID-19 from supply chain disruption and optimisation to new consumer demands around their online purchasing experiences. Amongst this raft of changes and alterations is a reshaping of the peak period or holiday season - a time frame stretching from October to New Years encapsulating the likes of Singles Day, Black Friday, and the ever frantic run up to Christmas. 

In this year's lead up to the Holiday Season speculation has been rife over how marketing practices and the world of eCommerce has altered because of COVID-19, and how the industry would react. Understanding these changes that have impacted this peak period is arguably key to optimising in preparation. Here’s how the 2020 eCommerce Holiday Season has been reshaped: 

Black Friday is ‘dead’

In the changed rhythm of eCommerce, gone are the days of the stereotypical Black Friday sales where images of shoppers with laptops and TV’s under their arms make their way to our screens as 91% of shoppers say they plan to avoid stores this year. 

Even online such is the change that eCommerce businesses are expected to drop the term ‘Black Friday’ and instead promote ‘Cyber Week’ - a longer term promotional campaign as events shift from daily to monthly sales. 

This, perhaps, brings an end to Black Friday as a milestone shopping day with even businesses such as Curry’s who traditionally market the event bringing their sales forward with cut prices lasting until 9 November. This shift means eCommerce marketers have a much bigger responsibility to make the Holiday Season a success for themselves and consumers. 

Consumers to buy earlier before final few sales

COVID-19’s impact on supply chains this year means that consumers have been warned that they must prepare to buy early to avoid missing out on any last minute with ‘excessive’ levels of eCommerce spend anticipated this year. Andy Mulchay, strategy director at IMRG, told BBC Online

“We think the volumes are going to be really very excessive this year. Whilst that in itself is not a problem, getting too much of it too close to Christmas is going to be a bit of a problem. If you can spread out your shopping and do quite a lot of it in November, maybe even a bit of it now, then that would really help.”

Businesses already in profit may opt-out 

Interestingly, one hot take suggests that the positive impact of COVID-19 and the initial lockdown may have also shaped the Holiday Season plans for many eCommerce businesses who saw growth in Q2 and Q3. As opposed to previous years where businesses may have been heading into peak season looking to leverage sales events to turn breaking even into profitability, this year has seen increased sales as a result of COVID-19 induced lockdowns with the likes of education, gardening, and alcohol hitting new heights. 

The resulting impact is thought to be less businesses from boosted industries feeling obliged to take part in the furore of Holiday Season marketing campaigns. This coupled with marketers taking a cautious approach to Christmas sales, with only 45% expecting to outdo last year’s results, means that the clamour to take part in events may not be there. 

Cart recovery emails to drive more sales than ever 

Customer’s propensity to buy is thought to be dictated more than ever by cart recovery emails that work to nurture consumers back to your eCommerce website to complete the purchase. By reminding the consumers what they left behind in their cart, which is becoming more relied upon for purchases than ever before as they have the highest conversion rate of remarketing solutions. 

To make these work with greater success, optimisation of cart recovery emails using personalisation and effective spacing of email sends will help drive more customers back to your eCommerce website. It is now thought that upping the ante with the number of email sends, with clean copy and design, can help drive up performance as long as you increase the duration of the cycle this year. 

To ready your eCommerce business for a Holiday Season reshaped by COVID-19 and learn how to compete with the likes of Amazon by examining marketing strategy weaknesses, download Cloud.IQ’s latest eBook - The Ultimate eCommerce Marketer’s Guide - here

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