If you’re not already excited about the 2019 holidays, here’s a reason to get even more geared up for the season:
According to Deloitte, holiday e-commerce sales are going to be 14% to 18% higher than they were in 2018. And that’s saying a lot, considering last year’s seasonal sales were exceptionally strong.
Across channels, sellers can look forward to an anticipated $144 to $149 billion in online sales from November to January. And a lot of those transactions are going to come from big spenders: An estimated 60% of all purchases will be made by the small segment of consumers who fall in the high-spender category of $2,101 or more per household.
It’s good news on top of good news.
But what do those numbers really mean for your business?
Let’s take a quick look at the latest trends from the 34th annual holiday retail survey — and what you need to know to stay ahead throughout the season.
3 Key Trends to Watch
1. Online transactions will be more prominent than ever
Consumers are once again planning to devote more time than ever to online brands and retailers.
While Deloitte expects consumers to spend the same amount of money in stores this year as they did last, the amount going toward online transactions is likely to escalate. Online purchases are expected to account for 59% of transactions, with an average household spend of $879. In-store purchases, by comparison, will average $541 per household.
The report’s authors also say their research suggests “that two-thirds of consumers intend to begin their holiday shopping journeys at online retailers with few or no physical locations, including auction sites,” and that 58% plan to use online search engines as their main source for research.
While it won’t be news to experienced marketplace sellers, the implications of this trend bear repeating: From Amazon and eBay to Walmart and Google Shopping, online channels will play an especially prominent role in spending this year.
2. Most shoppers will rely on mobile shopping experiences
The biggest contributor to those incremental increases in online sales? The prevalence and power of the smartphone.
Deloitte’s research suggests that smartphones will be used 6% more than they were during the 2018 holiday season, even as other device use remains flat. While consumers still use laptops, desktops and tablets to make holiday purchases, it’s the amount of shopping done on smartphones that’s really grown in the past two years.
It’s not difficult to understand why: From marketplace mobile apps to social media checkouts, it’s easier than ever for consumers to shop where, when and how they want — without having to wait for bigger screens or better payment processing options.
If you haven’t checked to make sure your mobile experience is optimized across channels, now’s the time to take a look.
3. Influences will come from different sources of inspiration
As in years past, inspiration will come from several key areas. Only this time around, the balance of power is shifting.
While deals and promotions are still important — three-quarters of consumers told Deloitte that prices will influence their purchasing decisions — the quality of selection and stock are even more significant. When asked about their top preferences for holiday shopping, having great products and brands in stock scored highest among 85% of consumers.
That’s not all. Half of holiday shoppers will be seeking inspiration or remain undecided as they start down their paths to purchase. And while social media was a major driver of research in the past, inventory now appears to be behind the wheel: Nearly two-thirds of consumers plan to get inspired by browsing online sales channels.
The conclusion is clear: In addition to seeking new ways to compete on price, it’s imperative to thoroughly address any inventory issues as swiftly as possible. Now more than ever, you’ll need to be ready to replenish stock if you want to avoid the (very real) risk of overselling.
How to capitalize on this season’s trends
If there’s one surefire way to use these predictions to your advantage, it’s this:
Make convenience a priority.
“Convenience is the new retail currency,” Deloitte reports. “Retailers who offer seamless experiences, have products available and can deliver items more quickly than ever are most likely to win this holiday season.”
As more brands and retailers are getting better at offering great deals and good product assortments, consumers are looking for the next best benefit when deciding where to buy. And in 2019, convenience reigns. From mobile-friendly shopping options to fast, free shipping — plus numerous other factors in between — there’s a lot to consider.
Looking for ways to get ahead this season? It’s never too late! ChannelAdvisor has plenty of resources to help you make the most of the latest trends and consumer behaviors. Here’s a quick roundup of our most recent resources:
We’ve also rounded up expert tips for selling in specific categories, including health and beauty, apparel and electronics.
For even more insights as you head into the new year, be sure to subscribe to the ChannelAdvisor blog to stay up to date on the most timely best practices.