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INSIGHTS / Articles

Trends That Will Dominate the 2021 Holiday Shopping Season

 3 Nov 2021 
INSIGHTS / Articles

Trends That Will Dominate the 2021 Holiday Shopping Season

 3 Nov 2021 

The 2020 holiday shopping season was a very different one from years past. With the COVID-19 pandemic keeping many from shopping in physical stores, ecommerce became the primary means of shopping in many parts of the world.
As such, record ecommerce sales were to be expected. In fact, for 80 of the top 100 retailers in the U.S. alone, ecommerce sales for the November-December 2020 season grew by 32% year-over-year (YoY) to $188.2 billion. That’s two years’ worth of growth in a single year.
As consumers vaccinate against COVID-19 and Governments lift their societal restrictions, retailers will compete to draw more customers in-store and online. Here are some trends to expect this holiday season:

1. Online shopping to reach new heights

During the 2020 holiday shopping period, daily online spend exceeded $1 billion, including over $3 billion spent on Cyber Monday. A major driver for this was search engines, driving 45% of visits and revenue as shoppers actively searched for the gifts they wanted. Paid search revenue (25%) and visits (23%) were slightly higher than organic revenue (20%) and visits (22%).
As retailers invest more in their online presence and consumers continue their online shopping habits, it’s expected that online shopping will thrive during the 2021 holiday season. Ecommerce sales are forecasted to increase by 7.6% while 65% of shoppers plan to spend more or the same amount of time online compared to the 2020 holiday season.

2. Customers will return to stores

As many people limited their contact with other shoppers, “Click and Collect” grew by 65% during the 2020 holiday season, being the chosen method for one in four orders (25%). December 23 was the peak day for this transaction method as customers realised that regular or express postage would not deliver their last-minute gifts in time for Christmas.
The popularity of the “Click and Collect” option will continue to drive customers to brick-and-mortar stores during the 2021 season. Meanwhile, shoppers who avoided shopping centres and stores, either due to the convenience of ecommerce or Government restrictions, may now also be keen to re-experience the hands-on shopping experience. In-store sales are expected to grow 6.6% during the 2021 holiday season compared to 2020.

3. Shoppers expect convenient options

Bolstered by their experiences with online shopping over the last 12 months, even more consumers now expect to use several digital touchpoints as part of their decision-making process. This makes having a robust omni-channel strategy and customer experience even more important heading into the 2021 holiday season and beyond to adequately meet the needs of today’s customers.
Ever since Amazon introduced its “1-Click” ordering process, which allows existing customers to simply click a button to buy something, shoppers have come to expect convenience with online shopping. If they find that an ecommerce experience is “too long or complicated” (18%), has errors/crashes (12%), or doesn’t offer enough payment methods (7%), they will abandon their cart during checkout and take their business to a competitor.
It is essential that retailers deliver a great experience for mobile device users as evidenced by its popularity amongst the majority of consumers, not just when on-the-go but also during their leisure time at home. In 2020, 49% of consumers used smartphones for shopping online. For the 2021 holiday season, this segment is expected to grow another 18.8% to be worth $97.15 billion.

4. Shopping will start early

The holiday shopping season typically starts in November with a series of annual shopping events capitalising on the “pre-Christmas rush”, and extends into the new year with the Boxing Day and Post-Xmas Sales. This year, consumers will shop earlier to avoid a repeat of their experiences from the last 12 months of items arriving late due to stock shortages and slower delivery times.
The forthcoming Click Frenzy (9 Nov), Single’s Day (11 Nov), Black Friday (26 Nov), and Cyber Monday (30 Nov) events are expected to see even higher demand this year. In fact, some retailers are preparing their holiday sales promotions and inventory even earlier, with Amazon offering “Black Friday-worthy” deals in October and Target promising the “lowest prices on gifts”.

Your best holiday shopping season yet

As retailers compete to draw customers in-store and online, the beneficiaries will be those who are able to deliver an engaging and seamless shopping experience across channels. While we always suggest a customer-centric omni-channel strategy for making the most of this period, wins can be gained by testing the customer experience across your channels, and ensuring everything works well for shoppers regardless of where they are, what device they are using, and whether they are browsing in a peak period.
Need help? Find out how our expert advice, skills, and technical solutions can contribute to your retail success this holiday season and beyond.


Time to Evolve the Shopping Experience

Access our retail paper for tips on how to provide an omni-channel experience, enhance your online store, and attract and engage in-store customers.


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