E-Commerce Marketers: Top 4 Insights for the 2022 Holiday Season

What do e-commerce marketers need to do this holiday season to boost sales?

To understand the implications and opportunities for retail and e-commerce marketers, our research team at Savings.com asked thousands of consumers about holiday shopping attitudes and habits and compiled recommendations for marketers to maximize their margins.

For holiday shoppers, gift availability, deadlines, free delivery, and bargain hunting are top of mind. Such indecision among holiday shoppers means much of this year’s spending remains in play, and marketers should tailor their messaging to meet this new consumer mindset. In assessing their collective hopes, concerns, preferences, and plans, we’ve compiled an actionable roadmap for marketing success based on four key insights from the 2022 report findings. 

Insight #1: Shoppers are nervous about product availability. Offering inventory assurance will mitigate their concern. 

Fearing a repeat of 2021’s empty holiday shelves, consumers are very concerned about supply issues and will make gift decisions based on what they think will be in stock. Most holiday shoppers (71%) are concerned that their desired items will be sold-out or on backorder this season. Transparency will be key for retailers. Marketers that clearly communicate product availability and shipping timelines, as well as offer inventory assurances, can mitigate those shopper concerns.

Insight #2: Marketers need to clearly articulate shipping timelines or risk losing loyal customers. 

More than twice as many Americans will shop in person this holiday season compared to 2021 (65% v. 26%), but the majority (78%) will still do all or most of their shopping online. Over 90% will have purchases delivered. Shoppers are already concerned about timely delivery and given their awareness of supply chain issues, worries are magnified. In fact, nearly three-quarters of those shopping online are already concerned about timely delivery. These holiday deadlines are also closely linked to shipping costs because if forced to choose between free shipping or quick delivery, 88% of holiday shoppers would save money over time.

To assuage consumer anxiety over holiday deadlines, marketers should reinforce why they are a trusted brand and provide real-time shipping updates to customers about their deliveries. Inventory assurances, in addition to shipping transparency, can alleviate customer anxiety about holiday deadlines.

Insight #3: If you’re not offering free shipping, your customers will go elsewhere.

While punctual delivery is important to shoppers, it’s not nearly as attractive as free shipping. The importance of free delivery can’t be overstated. Given a choice between one or the other, free delivery is preferred by a margin of 7 to 1. However, there are two sides to this coin.

One side of that coin represents opportunity, with consumers so focused on scoring free shipping that nearly half opt to buy additional products merely to meet free shipping minimums. On the other side of that same coin is an obstacle: nearly one-third (29%) of shoppers will try another retailer rather than pay a delivery cost. In order to remain competitive, retailers will need to offer free delivery to shoppers. 

Insight #4: Everyone is hunting for a deal. Send promotions via email and create inbound marketing materials to capture shoppers while they’re browsing. 

Some advocates may recommend an earlier jump on this year’s holiday shopping to ease supply strains and stay ahead of inflation, but most Americans will stick to the traditional sale season. The reason? They are in a constant state of bargain-hunting. Though 84% complete their shopping lists by the end of November, more than half wait until Black Friday and Cyber Monday to start their holiday shopping because getting a good deal is that big of a deal for them. 

The majority (65%) of shoppers prefer to learn about coupons and discounts from their favorite retailers by email, followed not-so-closely by social media and text at 14% and 9%, respectively. In addition to seeking free shipping and seasonal deals, many turn to third-party websites and apps in their quest for the best bargain. Forty percent of holiday shoppers discover deals, coupons, and codes via these external sources. Brands hoping to connect with these shrewd holiday shoppers should consider posting additional coupons and codes on these shopper resources.  

Retailers should prepare big Q4 marketing pushes, as most respondents said their favorite way to find gift ideas was via brand communication. 

The best way to advertise to shoppers is to email them promotions, deals, and coupons directly. Among those wishing to learn of retailers’ coupons and deals, nearly two-thirds will choose to receive additional brand emails. Reaching out to consumers with inventory assurances and Black Friday bargains backed by timely free shipping will be key to addressing consumer fears and unlocking holiday sales. With many Americans still deciding on gifts, now is the time for retailers to reach unfinished wish lists via advertising, email deals, social media, and coupon sites. 

We’ve published part of this report on Savings.com. If you would like additional insights or data from our E-Commerce Services team, reach out to marketing@centerfield.com.