Unpacking the Biggest E-commerce Shopping Season, What did we learn?

The 2021 holiday season was a whirlwind for retailers. For the second year in a row, the world grappled with a pandemic-fueled holiday season. Despite challenges with the supply chain, high demand and inflation,  it was a successful season for e-commerce retailers. In fact, e-commerce sales boomed amid rising concerns that the pandemic would once again disrupt normal consumer shopping behavior. It was reported that online sales were up 11% from a year ago and 61% from 2019.

While festive holiday decorations have been packed away and the warm glow of holiday cheer has subsided, it’s important to remember key findings and trends that were crystallized during the fourth quarter of the previous year. Digging into this insight will better inform retail strategies designed to help retailers better navigate the peaks and the valleys of 2022.

Below are key takeaways from what we witnessed during the 2021 Cyber 5 holiday shopping season.

Takeway #1 Start Promotions Earlier

With the e-commerce landscape continuing to grow at an accelerated rate, the market has become increasingly competitive. Savvy retailers circumvented inventory shortages and logistics delays with holiday promotions that began as early as mid-October. Similarly, consumers took advantage of early-season promotions to bypass the retail rush and ensure they would receive their items in time for the holidays. A survey found that a whopping  61% of consumers had already started purchasing holiday gifts before Thanksgiving. This year, retailers can set themselves up for success with competitive deals ahead of peak shopping times such as the Super Bowl.

Takeaway #2  Prioritize Mobile

While Black Friday sales fell short of  pre-pandemic times, of the consumers that took advantage of this shopping day, smart phones accounted for 44.4% of Black Friday sales which was a 10.6% increase from last year. The decline in Black Friday sales can most likely be attributed to consumers opting to grab what they could in advance of the actual holiday season. For mobile and electronic retailers, promotions that are made available in advance of the holiday season are more likely to maximum profits, even as consumers place less importance on Cyber 5 days.

Takeaway #3 Online Sales Still Trumps Instore Purchases

As the economy began to slowly make its way toward recovery, consumer budgets are also back to near normal. Consumer spending was forecasted to grow by 7.6% in 2021. With consumers settling into online shopping as a new way of life, Cyber Monday proved to be the highest sales day of Cyber 5. While it was reported that consumers spent 1.4% less this year than last year on Cyber Monday deals, data shows that consumers still prefer online shopping. 

Takeaway #4 Buildout comprehensive consumer shopping experiences

Brands that embrace the opportunity to provide a  seamless customer journey across all touchpoints are proving more successful.  A study found that marketing campaigns spread across three or more channels earned a 90% higher customer retention rate and 250% higher engagement and purchase rates. Leveraging an omnichannel approach during the holiday season is a key driver of revenue and an important element in driving more organic traffic. Utilizing omnichannel strategies help create a consistent quality, customer service experience and enables brands to cast a wider net.

As we look toward 2022, retailers must acknowledge that consumers are no longer as fixated on critical retail moments such as Cyber 5 as they were in the past. Why? Because consumers are scouting out deals much earlier. Additionally, creating a comprehensive, omnichannel consumer shopping experience will better position retailers to pace themselves throughout the year. Bottomline, brands that are committed to creating a streamlined experience and meeting their audience right where they are will be sure to finish the year with a bang.


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