Within a year to forget, it was a season to remember. The pandemic altered all of the regulations, resulting in a surge in the volume of internet buying purchases around the world. In 2020, your clients purchased differently and celebrated from afar. They were more patient with delays and demanded greater openness. They appreciated all of your efforts to keep the doors open and keep them safe.
Asking your customers what they want and need is the greatest approach to find out. Canada Post commissioned in-depth consumer research to gauge the mood of Canadian buyers as the year 2020 approaches and the holiday season approaches. This study examined 2020 purchasing trends in depth and provides a clear roadmap for your decision-making as you prepare for the peak season of 2021.
In this article we’ll look back as some things we learned last holiday seasons that can help accelerate your business this upcoming holiday season and beyond.
Table of Contents
- Provide a positive customer experience
- Online shopping is only going to get bigger
- Provide a seamless, integrated shopping experience
- Customers shop early and often
- Have a nice checkout/online purchasing experience
- Be open and honest with customers
- Strike a balance between online and offline activities
- Meeting consumer expectations for delivery fosters confidence and loyalty
- It pays to provide flexible and simple returns
- EasyRoutes is here to help you succeed with your deliveries
Provide a positive customer experience
In the year 2020, the world changed, and so did your business. 7 out of 10 Canadians noticed that merchants were doing things a little differently in 2020, therefore those actions you took to alter your operations mattered. Shoppers’ interactions with brands evolved, and many of these changes are projected to continue in the 2021 holiday season. It’s vital to provide a consistent purchasing experience across all of your channels. In 2020, 42% of shoppers noted stores providing pickup or delivery services for in-store items, and this trend has continued into 2021. When it came to online shopping this year, 48 percent chose in-store pickup and 44 percent preferred curbside pickup.
Flexibility, choice, and transparency are hallmarks of the best consumer experiences. This includes everything from your operations to your promotions. Make sure to include these crucial factors in your holiday strategy for 2021.
Online shopping is only going to get bigger
E-commerce isn’t going away anytime soon. For a long time, your customers have been moving in that direction. In 2020, e-commerce’s percentage of overall retail sales topped expectations, achieving a three-year prediction in just one year.
During the 2020 Christmas season, over half of Canadians (46%) bought everything, or almost everything, online, including 54% of those under the age of 55. Women were more likely than males to increase their online purchasing volume during the holiday season of 2020 (58%) rather than decrease it (10%). Clothing, toys, gadgets, and books were among the most popular products purchased online by Canadians.
These patterns are expected to continue. The vast majority of Canadians (89%) expect to maintain or raise their online purchase volumes for delivery during the year, while 74% expect to spend more or about the same on online purchases for in-store pickup. On online purchases for curbside pickup, 68% anticipate to spend more or roughly the same amount. And a whopping 84% say they plan to make the same number of online purchases, if not more, during the holidays of 2021. Clothing, electronics, and books were the most popular online shopping categories in 2021, however beauty items and footwear showed considerable rise.
Provide a seamless, integrated shopping experience
More than ever, the customer is in charge, which means that earning their allegiance will be more difficult. During the epidemic, 40% of consumers tested new brands, but only 1% plan to shop at the same merchants and brands in the future.
So, how can you gain their trust and encourage them to buy from you again? Keep in mind that 46% of people say loyalty or reward programs may tempt them to prefer one retailer over another, so keep that in mind. Because 63% of customers demand the same level of personal care across all channels, now is the moment to eliminate friction in operations, promotions, and the purchasing experience – curbside pickup, desktop website, mobile apps, and social media. Ensure that your customers have a consistent experience across all channels and participate in full-circle promotions.
Customers shop early and often
While fewer Canadians shopped last holiday season (77 percent in 2020 vs. 84 percent in 2019), those that did began significantly earlier. In fact, the average customer finished approximately half of their holiday shopping before Black Friday, and 20% before the end of October. As a result, only 14% of the average shopper’s Christmas purchases were made on Black Friday Weekend and Cyber Monday. Surprisingly, the majority of Canadian internet customers (50 percent) did not shop on Black Friday or Cyber Monday (62 per cent). This could be related to the fact that delivery times in 2020 were extremely slow, and customers adapted to ensure that their items reached in time for the holidays.
It’s true that the holidays begin earlier each year. Customers are reacting earlier and earlier, therefore extending the length of discounts will be common for all major shopping seasons. To optimize the impact of other major selling windows, such as Valentine’s Day, return to school, and so on, consider getting in front of shoppers early.
Have a nice checkout/online purchasing experience
Shoppers value a nice checkout/online purchasing experience. It’s vital that you provide customers with a variety of payment options for when – and when – they’re ready to spend. To make payments more flexible and items more accessible, consider integrating payment solutions that allow customers to buy their way, including buy now/pay later choices.
The ease of use is essential. According to a recent study, 65% of consumers abandon their carts because an online business is too difficult to navigate, and 45% abandon their carts because the checkout process has too many stages.
Fortunately, great online software like Shopify exists to assist you in running your store.
Be open and honest with customers
Messages conveyed to consumers during the previous holiday season were heard and heeded. The majority of online shoppers took retailers’ and shippers’ advice to start shopping early, realized shipment would take longer, and altered their buying habits to prevent being disappointed.
The new normal is open and transparent communication. Even when the news isn’t good, our study continues to show that sharing information is better. It improves the relationship between retailers and their clients.
Strike a balance between online and offline activities
During the 2020 holiday season, Canadians made an average of 16.7 online purchases that required delivery and four items that required in-store or curbside pickup. This new ratio signified a renewed emphasis on balancing traffic between online and offline stores. Sellers prioritized having a solid real-time inventory management system across sales channels – which allows customers to see current supply regardless of how they shop – as well as a secure and dependable delivery partner. If one of your goods is out of stock, give customers options like email alerts when it comes back in stock or pre-orders — A lack of options to purchase out-of-stock items prompted 48% of shoppers to quit their shopping cart. This is projected to continue through the holidays of 2021.
Meeting consumer expectations for delivery fosters confidence and loyalty
Do you want to be a preferred online shop? Your future consumer stated that keeping delivery costs low (88%), quick (81%), and transparent were all important factors in their 2020 purchasing decisions (81 per cent). They will prioritize shopping with you if you can supply all of it while also processing orders swiftly (80%).
In the peak season of 2021, those fundamentals will still apply. When it comes to cart abandonment, 92 percent of customers will leave because shipping costs are too high, 77 percent will leave because a free shipping alternative isn’t available, and 67 percent will leave because the delivery time will be too long. When it comes to the criteria that impact retailer choice, 80 percent are concerned with shipping costs, 58 percent with delivery speed, and 42 percent with how quickly your company processes orders.
Having a robust monitoring system and delivery alerts paid off in 2020, with 14% of consumers stating that this was what stuck out to them (up 10 points in 2020 since 2019). People still wanted to know where their product was as it made its way to them, thus fast (32%), on-time (17%) service was still vital. However, given the surge in online sales during the COVID-19 epidemic, people wanted to know exactly where their package was as it made its way to them. In our most recent survey, 46% of customers responded that shops providing an estimated delivery date is a top-ten influencing factor for them when choosing an online retailer, indicating that these considerations are likely to continue throughout the 2021 holiday shopping season.
You’ll be able to scale to meet demand if you work closely with technology and shipping partners.
It pays to provide flexible and simple returns
Return policies were extremely important in 2020 for first-time purchases from a retailer (63 per cent). Customers indicated being able to return by mail/carrier was important to them (59%) but fewer (36%) said they were concerned about return policies when buying presents online in 2020 compared to 62%) in 2019. Sixty-six percent of customers have abandoned their carts due to a lack of flexible return alternatives, while 63 percent have abandoned carts due to concerns about a return policy as the holidays approach in 2021. Both remain major determinants of retailer choice when it comes to free and easy returns. Free returns sway 61% of shoppers, while 56% opt for shops that offer simple returns.
EasyRoutes is here to help you succeed with your deliveries
Last year’s holiday season was significantly different for us all. Many traditions were abandoned as most Canadians chose to stay at home rather than congregate with family, friends, or workplace. Many people altered their gift-giving behaviours, purchasing fewer or more useful items. Similarly, it was a different year for your company. Undoubtedly hectic and difficult, but hopefully rewarding.
To help out this year, we’ve taken everything we’ve learned from 2020 and are putting it to good use as we prepare for another hectic holiday season. We adapted to your needs, providing additional features and capabilities to make delivering throughout the holidays and beyond easy. From customer tracking links to help with transparency, to inventory/packing lists to optimized delivery routes, EasyRoutes is a full-fledged delivery management app that will same you time and money.
To learn more about EasyRoutes visit https://easyroutes.app.
Try EasyRoutes free for 14-days on the Shopify App Store.