International sales – newbie or seasoned pro?
As the UK remains under lockdown in November, we’ve looked at how the coronavirus is likely to impact Christmas 2020 and what you can do to help best prepare your ecommerce business for a very different holiday season.
The impact of coronavirus on Christmas 2020There can be no doubt the pandemic has drastically altered shopping habits, with many more consumers embracing online shopping as they are forced to stay home, something which could result in unprecedented ecommerce demand this year.
With the second lockdown lasting until Wednesday 2nd December at least, leaving a short bricks and mortar shopping window, online sales are set to dominate.
Another consequence of the pandemic is that there is considerable economic uncertainty this year and therefore consumers will be extra price conscious in 2020.
Sebastian James, CEO of Boots UK, comments:
‘People are going to be much more anxious about money so value is going to be much more important this Christmas.’
This economic uncertainty and the threat of job losses in the coming months, despite vaccine progress, is also likely to see many households start shopping earlier.
In fact, the British Retail Consortium (BRC) is actively encouraging consumers to bring their Christmas purchases forward with their ‘Shop early, start wrapping, enjoy Christmas’ campaign.
The idea is to help spread out demand in the run up to the holiday season, to both help protect workers and to avoid disappointment on Christmas Day.
Helen Dickinson, chief executive of the BRC, said:
‘While celebrations will no doubt be a little different this year, we know customers want to keep Christmas special. That’s why we’re encouraging people to shop early and prevent the last minute rush so their fellow customers and all the store colleagues, warehouse workers and delivery drivers working behind the scenes, have the space they need to stay safe and well.
‘BRC’s September sales figures show signs some customers have already started a little earlier than usual.’
Capitalise on potential coronavirus shopping trendsAs the pandemic is likely to result in consumers limiting their spending this year, it will be more important than ever to identify and accommodate this year’s shopping trends in order not to miss out on crucial sales.
While we spend more time indoors this year, it’s likely the focus for many gift givers will be on the home and making life more comfortable and convenient. Must have listings this year are likely to include loungewear, snuggly blankets, and smart home items.
Also in focus will be personal improvement, so, exercise equipment, nutrition and cook books look to be strong sellers.
Non-gift products which are likely to be of interest to consumers this holiday season include items which will help families and friends to stay connected virtually, such as HD webcams and virtual party games.
Attracting and retaining customers in a post-Covid worldAttracting new customers is often a difficult and expensive process and the challenges posed by the coronavirus pandemic will mean it is truly an uphill battle this year.
At the same time, a successful holiday sales period will also be crucial for retaining customers as the failure to impress shoppers now could see them shun your business in the tough times ahead.
When it comes to attracting customers, a Christmas marketing blitz is still likely to be your best bet, and you will want to bring your seasonal advertising campaign forward to help capture those early shoppers.
With many businesses reducing advertising spend this year, the opportunity to invest in less competitive search and online ads at a reduced cost could boost sales.
Also try to avoid language such as ‘in these unprecedented times’, consumers will be looking for that Christmas cheer more than ever this year and a feel-good campaign is more likely to resonate with shoppers.
Whilst ensuring you are well stocked has always being an essential part of preparing for Christmas, this year it will be more vital than ever as the pandemic has seen consumer loyalty fray.
During the lockdown, consumers who were unable to purchase their favourite brands from their usual marketplaces have become increasingly willing to turn to alternative vendors in order to get what they want.
If items aren’t available in the way and timeframe that consumers want, they will switch faster than ever before, a switch that can often be permanent.
Also consider that offering gift wrapping services could also be the difference between a sale and an abandoned basket this year, as safety and convenience will be key for consumers this year and will see them favour sellers who can provide this.
While the coronavirus pandemic has ensured that Christmas 2020 will be like no other that has come before, those ecommerce businesses who put in the appropriate preparation and are willing to adapt to their customers’ needs should still be able to take advantage of the most important shopping season of the year.
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