5 Online Shopping Trends to Watch This Holiday Season

Now is the time to start preparing for holiday sales.

learn more about Amit Mathradas

By Amit Mathradas

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It's hard to think about November and December when you're focused on running your business but now is when you need to start getting ready for a successful holiday selling season. Here are five trends to watch so you get the most out of the holiday shopping season across the globe.

Related: 6 Things to Consider for Putting Together Your Best Holiday Marketing Plan Yet

1. More holidays during the shopping season

While you may have never heard of Singles Day, it's a big deal for Chinese consumers who spent $25 billion on the holiday last year. Think beyond local, traditional holidays and find opportunities to reach customers in other markets. Besides appealing to global customers, you'll also reap the benefits of longer peak-selling windows of time. Some holidays to pay attention to include:

  • Singles Day -- Nov. 11
  • Black Friday -- Nov. 23
  • Small Business Saturday -- Nov. 24
  • Cyber Monday -- Nov. 26
  • Cyber Week -- Nov. 26-31
  • Giving Tuesday -- Nov. 27
  • Green Monday -- Dec. 10

2. The ability to sell on social media

Consumers spend one-third of their time on social media. If your business doesn't have a social strategy, then you're missing our on an engaging new sales channel. It's critical to plan how you can sell your items through Facebook Shops, Shopping on Instagram and Buyable Pins to reach users while they are spending time in their feeds. It's also a great way to reduce friction in the buying process, since your shoppers can buy then and there, without needing to visit your website. Plus, most of the social platform have excellent targeting capabilities, so you can get your product in front of the just the right buyers. An added bonus: Customers often share the products they browsed or bought -- giving your business free marketing.

Related: Holiday Gift Guide: What to Give Your Team Members

3. Customer financing options

Wallets gets especially tight during the holidays, so offering your customers relief from that financial strain can help you stand out. In fact, PayPal research shows that 69 percent of consumers are more likely to use online purchase financing during the holiday season. These types of options let you offer quick and easy financing to your customers with additional brand recognition. There are online credit solutions that, no matter the size of your business, you don't assume any risk. Shoppers take home their purchases right away and schedule payments over time. You get paid immedidately. It's simple and doesn't disrupt your checkout flow or create additional friction. Offering something like this can easily turn shoppers into buyers and increase your sales.

4. Fast, free shipping

The National Retail Federation found that almost half of all consumers will back out of a purchase if free shipping isn't offered, and more than half will add additional items to an order to meet a free shipping minimum. With this amount of scrutiny on the final checkout screen, you need to make sure that not just shopping but shipping is easy, fast and free for consumers. You've worked so hard to get your shoppers to the checkout page; don't let a shipping hurdle get in the way of them clicking on the "Buy Now" button.

Optimizing your storefront for these ecommerce trends take time and resources, but making these upgrades ahead of the busy shopping season will help you make the most of it -- and hit the ground running in 2019.

Related: U.S. Retailers Aren't Embracing Singles' Day -- a Billion-Dollar Sales Opportunity. This Retailer Is Trying to Change That.

5. Shopping tailored to a mobile world

According to comScore's "State of the U.S. Online Retail Economy" report, purchases made on tablets and smartphones totaled $31.8 billion in the fourth quarter of 2017, up 40 percent from just the year before. We're living in a mobile-first age where people shop and buy more on mobile than on desktop, yet many businesses still haven't taken advantage of the opportunity. Make that your advantage.

By optimizing your online store for mobile browsers, you can ensure every click and touch reduces friction and adds value. Pay close attention to your checkout page -- this is one area where businesses are still seeing a lot of drop-off. Make sure you enable one-touch or no-touch checkout for easy purchasing and use dynamic buttons to show that you accept payments your shoppers prefer.

Amit Mathradas

President and COO, Avalara

Amit Mathradas manages growth operations at Avalara, overseeing sales, marketing, business development, customer experience, and professional services. Prior to Avalara, Mathradas was general manager and head of the small and medium business segment for North America at PayPal after serving in senior leadership roles at Web.com and Dell.

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