With retailers launching promotions well before Black Friday and Cyber Monday, the holiday shopping season started early this year. Consumers quickly nabbed the early deals from home, sending 2020 holiday e-commerce stats soaring.
Retailers worldwide saw a massive surge in online sales in the month of November, further cementing the reality that e-commerce is here to stay when it comes to how we purchase goods in the future.
Factors driving this trend include:
- Ongoing risk of COVID-19 exposure
- New restrictions and lockdowns in areas around the globe
- Significant increase in customers’ preference of click and collect or curbside pickups
Earlier in 2020, we saw retail consumers shifting to e-commerce by a 148% increase in gross merchandise value (GMV) from later February to mid-April. In November, it was over 3x higher than the average GMV during a regular day.
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Thanks to early deals from a majority of retailers, order trajectory began rising during the first and second weeks of November. In years previous, there’s usually a gradual ramp up of orders in November, reaching peak volume during the third and fourth weeks.
To assess the staggering growth of e-commerce with regard to this year’s retail performance, it’s imperative to include all November order data instead of just Thanksgiving weekend.
Important 2020 holiday e-commerce stats include:
- During the first two weeks of November, retailers generated 55% – 60% of the month’s orders (calendar weeks 45 and 46)- historically this figure ranged between 35% to 40%.
- In 2019, an uptick of order volume was seen during the first two weeks of November, but remained below 50%.
- Although the order volume was at least 1.5x higher than last year’s Thanksgiving weekend, including Cyber Monday, it started tailing off from the 3rd week of November (Calendar week 47).
- The conversion rate during the first week of November was 15% – 20% higher than the fourth week, although during the same week, traffic was 35% – 40% higher than the first week. Lack of new deals, monitoring of price-drops, and lack of inventory are presumed to be main drivers for lower conversion rate during the last week.
- Average order value (AOV) was approximately 3x higher than November 2019, and around 80% higher than 2020’s AOV – a clear indication of bigger basket size in general, driving GMV up 6x compared to November 2019. GMV of this year’s Thanksgiving weekend alone was almost 2x higher than last year’s.
- Approximately 65% – 70% of November’s GMV was generated during the second half of the month, indicating bigger basket size overall.
Alongside retail, the consumer products industry realized 3x more orders in November 2020 compared to last year.
During Thanksgiving weekend alone, orders were 2x higher than the previous year. Due to lower AOV, the increment of GMV this year was between 55% and 60%.
Can you hear me now? Importance of mobile for retailers becomes clear, with nearly 50% of sales coming from cellular devices
In many ways, the 2020 holiday e-commerce stats simply verify what we’ve been saying all year: e-commerce is here to stay (no matter what the future looks like) and mobile is a huge player in the growth arena.
COVID-19 has been a catalyst for M-commerce, prompting digital laggards to adopt cellular devices as shopping devices.
Although final numbers aren’t in, reports estimate that mobile commerce (M-commerce) drove between 45-50%+ of the sales during Cyber Week 2020.
We know that safety concerns were a big driver for e-commerce sales this year, but now that folks have also discovered the convenience of mobile to complete purchases, there’s no going back.
Moving forward, retailers will want to focus on frictionless customer experiences, and how best to integrate mobile into their commerce platforms, including:
- Mobile apps
- Ease of payment via mobile (folks might not return via desktop if they can’t successfully check out on their phones)
- Integration into social platforms like Pinterest, Instagram, Twitter, SnapChat, and others that allow for “click to buy”
- Creating app-like experiences in browsers
- API-driven microservices and headless commerce
- Focus on BOPIS (buy online, pickup in store), click and collect, and curbside pickup functionalities
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Without question, retail was hit hard this year, with COVID-19 exposing a lack of resilient supply chains alongside limited or no digital transformation. Many retailers across the globe made cuts throughout 2020 as they found themselves flirting with a possible financial crisis.
Moving forward, it also won’t be surprising to see retailers focus more on omnichannel, as multi-channel scenarios can cause sometimes cause each channel to compete against each other.
Throughout 2020, the number of overall orders trended downward for many retailers, but the average order value rose.
In 2021, we could easily envision this continuing, with consumers placing fewer orders, but spending more on the purchases they do make until the economic roller-coaster ride of COVID-19 comes to a halt.
It’s easy to also assume that consumers will continue to embrace subscription commerce, D2C, and mobile as the path forward. No matter what, 2020 has shown us that predicting trends is harder than we think, and that customer experience is the future of retail.