The Biggest Online Shopping Season of All Time

By : Pablo Dopico


The biggest online shopping season of all time is just around the corner.

For most of us – dare I say all of us? – COVID-19-related restrictions will still be impacting our daily lives for another year or two. We’ve had a front row seat to witness how lockdowns and social distancing measures have accelerated society’s adoption of online entertainment, communication, remote working, and online shopping. In fact, people already shopped online every day in April like it was Black Friday. All signs point in the same direction: eCommerce will surge this holiday.

And there are many reasons and indicators as to why this will be the case:

  • There’s a lot of unsold stock that will need to be shifted
  • People are much more comfortable shopping online than they were a year ago
  • The number of shopping moments has increased steadily over the past decade as national events became global (Black Friday, Cyber Monday, Singles Day, etc.)
  • While this was traditionally high season for electronics and gaming, 2020 has been the year for other categories to experience exponential online growth: food, beverages, household goods, healthcare items, furniture and pretty much everything is being purchased online more than ever before
  • Aforementioned growth means increasing competition: more advertisers and brands will join the fray and compete for the same online spaces
  • App Annie predicts that over 1B hours will be spent shopping this Q4 on Android devices alone.

Salesforce is forecasting a 30% year over year growth for ecommerce, up from 8% growth in 2019, to become 30% of the total retail sales in the US this holiday season. This is a seismic shift in consumer patterns that will test everyone’s online infrastructure capabilities. Online sales are key to closing the gap that the global pandemic has opened in so many brands’ balance sheets, so everything needs to work as smoothly as possible.

More brands competing for online shopping opportunities, coupled with the fact that most are looking at concentrating their efforts on a handful of proven platforms and ad types where it’s easier to demonstrate direct impact on immediate sales, has the potential to generate a feedback loop where CPMs are driven higher and it becomes even more difficult to stand out.

Here are 5 things brands will need to do to make holiday 2020 a success:

  • Reinforce your online infrastructure. Make sure every piece of code on your site works so tracking and user experience are locktight.
  • Reduce the number of steps (friction) from ad impression to conversion on mobile devices. This not only improves your capability to convert but also reduces strain on your systems.
  • Consider multiple fulfillment options (click and collect, last-mile carriers, alternative delivery services) to deal with surges in demand
  • Stay agile, keep campaign budgets flexible and be ready to pivot and re-distribute resources.
  • Stand out from the crowd: build best-in-class mobile-first creative that’s native to the devices and platforms it will be experienced on, and designed to drive the KPIs that matter most to you.

Brands still capable of innovating and diversifying will open up additional opportunities, so don’t rule out trying new formats and less crowded, higher-quality spaces where you can get your target audience’s attention. If your creative and media buying remains agile going into the holiday season, you can pivot quickly as you spot those opportunities and reap the rewards. The changes in consumer behavior and social habits that we’ve experienced in 2020 won’t disappear after Q4 so, in your attempts to make every dollar count, don’t completely forget to play the long game.

In need of insights on how to design your holiday ads to improve your purchase rate?  Download our eCommerce Holiday Ads Report to discover four creative considerations derived from more than 8,000 ads.