2019 Holiday Sales Forecast: How eCommerce Sites can Prepare for Record-Breaking Holiday Sales Season

October 18, 2019

Holiday Sales Forecast: How eCommerce Sites can Prepare for Record-Breaking Holiday Sales Season

eCommerce holiday sales are expected to break records in 2019. According to a recent study by Salesforce, U.S. eCommerce holiday sales will reach $136 billion this year, despite losing six days in the shopping season due to Thanksgiving falling at the end of November. With 2018 holiday sales totaling $126 billion, that’s an incredible $10 billion increase over the course of one year. eCommerce merchants are getting more savvy in an effort to increase revenue gains and many have already started preparing their websites to properly welcome holiday shoppers. So, what are these savvy online merchants doing to prepare their eCommerce sites for the 2019 Holiday Sales Season? There are many ways to prepare ahead of time to ensure a smooth holiday shopping season and a generous uptick in transactions generated from your online store. Start by reading our list of maintenance items, innovative updates and improvements to prepare your digital storefront to handle a deluge of shoppers. Being ready for the 2019 holiday sales season will help your business attract more visitors, engage a wider audience, process more transactions, and offer greater service to your customers.

How eCommerce Sites Can Prepare for 2019 Holiday Sales:

Ensure a Certified Secure Shopping Environment - Online shoppers divulge a lot of personal information when completing a purchase including name, credit card details, address and contact information. You should have the proper content governance and cybersecurity measures in place to be sure that you are handling personal information correctly. Especially if you serve customers in Europe, you should ensure that your site is GDPR compliant (General Data Protection Regulation) and follows the GDPR protocol when it comes to handling the personal data of customers. Further safeguard eCommerce transactions by using a web platform that is PCI Level 1 compliant and SOC2 certified.

Modernize your Merchandising Strategy & Highlight Seasonal Promotions- Salesforce predicts that eCommerce merchants will initiate a shopping frenzy well before Black Friday by launching special product drops, creative collaborations, and limited-inventory promotions. You can support these promotions effectively by easily setting up promotion banners and intelligent navigation to highlight unique product offerings. In this way, you can set up special promotion parameters using a merchandising engine to promote a specific product category, cross-sell alternative or complementary products, visually remind customers about a product they’ve browsed in the past and/or also to recommend products based on customer attributes such as location, local weather, age, gender and more. Our client, Sugarfina, does a spectacular job at highlighting collaborations, seasonal products and multiple product categories to match customers quickly with their new favorite luxury candies.

Facilitate Shopping on the Go and Prepare for Voice Search - “Siri, what should I get my wife for Christmas?” People are stressed during the holiday season with wrapping up end-of-year work items, thanking their employees, shopping for their families, preparing for house guests and more. Trends show that shoppers are increasingly turning to third-parties for shopping help by asking virtual assistants and smart home speakers to help complete a purchase rather than going directly to a brand’s website. Prepare your site for Voice Search by adding question phrases to your product pages and website content that are likely to be searched by potential customers.

Uncover Hidden Secrets in your Data - Well, it’s not really hidden… the data is waiting for you but you may not have thought to look for it. Remember all those visitors you had last year during the holiday shopping season? There is valuable information hidden in their visits and behavior on your site. Look up their most searched keywords on your site and ensure that you have built an SEO-friendly path to purchase by publishing content and product pages targeting those popular keywords. You can also gain insight into customer needs by researching unsuccessfully-searched keywords on your website to uncover opportunities in ensuring that every customer finds what they need. For example, a customer may have visited your site looking for a fleece jacket, but you have it listed under sweatshirt items. Be sure to prepare for the different paths customers may take to get to your items and ensure that customers can find what they need.

Don’t Be Afraid of AI - Personalization Using AI Wins Over Customers - Salesforce says, “Beyond slashing prices, how will retailers maintain their margins and balance sky-high consumer expectations? The answer is personalization. With artificial intelligence coming of age, personalization and relevancy will be the antidote to the discount standoff between retailers and shoppers. Last year, buyers that engaged with product recommendations powered by AI had a 26% higher average order value compared to shoppers that did not. AI will put the right product at the right place at the right time, especially on mobile, salvaging retailers’ margins and rewarding shoppers with the products that they want. Personalization is a win-win, and no one has to compromise.” Employing AI features will work wonders on many aspects of your eCommerce strategy including presenting relevant product promotions based on a visitor’s onsite behavior, chatbots that helps facilitate purchases by answering frequently asked questions, automating pricing to sell inventory at its most profitable price point, and forecasting inventory based on last season’s sales. AI also increases your Average Order Value (AOV) through automating the promotional banners and showing shoppers complementary items and alternative items that are added to their orders as they shop.

Go Global for a Greater Share of Sales - While U.S. eCommerce holiday sales are projected to reach $136 billion, Global online sales for the 2019 Holiday Season are projected to reach $768 billion. That’s $632 billion worth of opportunity that you have the potential to reach if you expand to global markets. Of course, it has to be the right move for your business and you must have the logistics in place to be able to properly serve your customers. If you are interested in expanding globally, we have the resources at Bridgeline to help you manage anything from your eCommerce site to reaching global customers to setting up the proper logistics to ship your products globally.

From the mundane but necessary updates in security and infrastructure to the exciting new advances in AI, it is our passion to explore eCommerce success of any kind. The holiday season is the best time to implement new eCommerce advances to see how your business can be brought to the next level online. As we gear up for what is to be a very interesting holiday shopping season, we look forward to witnessing and facilitating the success of eCommerce merchants across the web as they wrap up 2019. Salesforce created their 2019 Holiday Shopping Predictions using the shopping data of over half a billion global shoppers, a proprietary study of ecommerce sites, and a survey of more than 10,000 consumers.