24 October 2023

‘Tis the season for shopping everywhere

The countdown for the festive season has begun, but is your brand ready to meet the demands of the shopper? In this article our Head of Commerce Strategy, Lesley Myers-Lamptey, explores the key trends shaping shopping behaviours and discusses how brands can best prepare for the growth in ecommerce sales.

Next week will see the first of the festive season retailer promotions, launching with Amazon Prime Day on October 10th, leading to Singles Day in China, Black Friday, and then Boxing Day sales in the UK. The wishlists have started and brands are vying for people’s attention (and money) to choose their brand, product, or service, during this critical shopping period.

However, it’s not that straightforward. Some retailers have already started discounting as part of their ‘Autumn sales’, and last year Black Friday promotions ran for the best part of a month. This, alongside the cost-of-living crisis, has meant that people are starting their festive shopping earlier and earlier-  a survey by Google revealed that by mid-October 21% of holiday shoppers globally had completed their shopping.

The notion that there is a Black Friday for in-store purchases and Cyber Monday for online shopping seems redundant, as there are no longer boundaries between physical and digital shopping. People expect to shop whenever inspiration strikes, to purchase items anywhere they choose, and to have full control over how they buy them. Shopping and browsing behaviour has fundamentally changed and eCommerce sales are predicted to reach $6.3 trillion this year.

What does this shift in shopper behaviour mean for brands?

Being able to  stand out as a brand becomes even more important when potential customers are inundated with offers, deals, and promotions. It’s during these sales periods that a brand’s strength comes to the forefront, with those investing in brand comms, understanding their point of differentiation, and excelling at customer experience, seeing the greatest return.

In developing full-funnel marketing strategies that connect brand comms with sales activity, brands can capture the audience's attention and seamlessly lead them to the point of purchase. We recently demonstrated this through the Fossil x Barbie collaboration on Pinterest, showing the value of tapping into cultural moments and using this to aid product discovery.

So, what’s next in commerce?

TikTok made me buy it

One of the fastest-growing trends in commerce is social commerce, which by 2025 is expected to account for 17% of global eCommerce sales. Not only do people turn to TikTok for inspiration, but to all social media platforms to view shoppable ads, watch product reviews, and view live streams. In China, live streaming has fundamentally changed people's shopping and social media experience with mega-influencers such as the ‘Lipstick King’ selling $1.7bn of goods in just 12 hours during Singles Day.

Although the rest of the world is catching up, social commerce is rapidly growing and retailers have started introducing social media features within their platforms. This Prime Day, Amazon shoppers in the US will be able to follow brands, view a brand’s content outside of their store page, and next year they’ll be able to watch livestreams on their homepage and FireTV.

Great expectations, low patience

People expect exemplary customer service both on and offline, with the customer journey online sometimes getting overlooked - people reaching the website is only the midway point in the journey. The customer experience should be omnichannel and aim to be as frictionless as possible. It takes just 3 seconds for more than half of a website's visitors to move elsewhere if the website has been slow to respond or not optimised for mobile. In addition, our partner Stripe, reported that 40% of visitors leave the checkout process due to confusion about payment options and technical glitches - a huge loss in potential revenue

These encounters could be very damaging to a brand as it could be their only chance to capture that audience. Therefore by better connecting content, media, and data, we can deliver greater personalisation and open up more opportunities for a brand to efficiently convert visitors.

This festive season will see more sales, more innovation, and a greater focus on ecommerce. However, there is still much more room for growth, and the next 12 months will give brands the opportunity to engage new audiences and create positive brand experiences through these new commerce paths to purchase. Through a ‘test and learn’ commerce strategy, brands can identify the right opportunities to unlock growth through commerce and ultimately future proof their brand for the changing shopper needs.