Call it the perfect storm of opportunity for retailers around the world. Continuing globalization, a host of new digital shopping apps, and an enduring period of e-commerce growth all point to a record holiday season for online sales, including cross-border transactions. Add to the equation the fact that uncertainties surrounding the pandemic have moved more shoppers online, and you have the potential for a seismic shift in digital activity this year.
What does that mean for your business? Let’s take a closer look:
Beyond Black Friday and Cyber Monday
This year, the traditional holiday shopping days are predicted to be bigger than ever for e-commerce, but they are also expected to be less defined in duration. In other words, instead of a concentrated burst of activity during cyberweek, experts like those at Adobe predicted we will see several weeks of increased online buying leading up to year’s end, which is already starting to occur. Overall, Adobe predicts a 33 percent growth in online holiday sales in 2020, with totals reaching $189 billion. Already, the first ten days of the holiday shopping season – beginning on November 1 – registered almost $22 billion in digital sales, a 21% increase over last year. Statistics like these can start to lose their meaning after a while, so it’s important to focus on how this steady rush of e-commerce will affect your company’s strategy and bottom line.
Here’s the takeaway: your business needs to be prepared to compete to bring customers to your site with strong marketing and promotions, and you need to be ready for heavy traffic, high demand, and expectations for quick delivery of your goods.
Understanding the Impact of COVID-19
While online retail sales are surging, consumers are generally anxious about their personal financial circumstances due to the pandemic. According to one study, a quarter of consumers are concerned about their ability to afford the gifts they want to purchase this year. This economic reality translates into worry for retailers as well. DHL recently conducted a survey of more than 2,500 small and medium-sized companies and found that 36% believed that the pandemic would have a negative impact on sales overall. A slightly larger number predicted little impact on sales, while 27% expected a positive impact.
Here’s the takeaway: COVID-19 is certain to boost e-commerce as consumers avoid in-person activities, but economic anxiety is widespread, and buyers are looking for deals. So, your company needs to activate all possible discounts and focus on competitive pricing.
Relying on Experienced Shipping Partners
This year, expect supply chains to be under significant stress. Obtaining goods from suppliers and forecasting total consumer demand will be challenging, and it will require careful planning. Likewise, getting your products to buyers quickly and securely will be difficult given the predicted levels of shipping traffic. DHL Express is expecting all-time high shipping volumes around the globe, with peak season levels above 50% compared to last year. To prepare, we have hired more than 10,000 new employees globally, implemented additional cargo flights, and made significant new operational investments.
Here’s the takeaway: your customers can now be located all over the world, but they won’t care how good your products are if they never receive them of if they arrive late. So, you need a shipping partner with experience in peak volume logistics, international shipping, and express delivery.
Getting a Greater Share of the Global Pie
Holiday season 2020 will likely represent another breakthrough in global e-commerce. Whether your business has one employee or one hundred, you can reach and sell to customers almost anywhere on the planet. Yes, there is more competition in digital retail than ever before, but there is also more opportunity to reach some of the 95% of consumers who live outside the U.S. The pandemic has removed certain consumer preconceptions about what kinds of products can be purchased online, and how far they can travel. Now is the time for your business to remove the constraints and make international markets part of your plan.
Here’s the takeaway: this holiday season, make sure your website is open to international buyers, and have a global shipping strategy in place and ready to go.
How is your business preparing for peak holiday season? Let us know on Twitter @DHLUS.