Holiday Nerves: Ecommerce Brands Are Less Optimistic Than Last Year

Ecommerce brands seem shaky as they approach the 2020 holiday season. 

A fourth expect lower revenue this year, and a third are opting out of peak-season marketing activities. Last year, those percentages were negligible.

Ecommerce firms are also taking their time planning their campaigns.  

By September 2019, 70% had started their peak-season planning. That has fallen to 40% this year. And 30% are doing no planning. 

Yieldify conducted this two-part survey in August with 400 ecommerce leaders and 2000 consumers in the United States and the United Kingdom. 

For those still active, email will be the top channel being used — by 28% during the peak season.

Here are the other tactics being employed SMS is at the bottom of the list, and 26% are utilizing none of these:

  • Paid social — 25%
  • Website personalization — 23%
  • Display ads — 20%
  • Organic social — 19%
  • TV — 15%
  • Mobile — 15%
  • SEO — 15%
  • Paid search — 14%
  • Direct mail — 13%
  • Print media — 11%
  • SMS marketing — 9%



Email marketing also ranks highly as a peak-season conversion tactic, second only to highlighting free delivery. But both activities are falling below 2019 levels. 

Also being used are personalized recommendations highlighting customer reviews and optimizing the mobile site.

However, the only response that is higher this year than last is “There are no top tactics that my company has to increase conversion during the holiday shopping season.”

In another depressing finding, only 45% of brands expected to exceed last year’s results. In 2019, 90% were optimistic they would. 

Their biggest challenges this year? The top five are:

  • Reduced consumer demand due to COVID-19 impact
  • Competition with other ecommerce sites
  • Ability to meet demand for stock due to COVID-19 impact
  • Challenges with fulfillment due to COVID-19 impact
  • Reduced ecommerce/marketing resources due to COVID-19 impact 
  • Consumers seem equally cautious as they approach the season

Of those polled, only 34% plan to increase their peak-season spending and 18% will decrease it. The remainder will retain their prior level. 

As for timing, 42% expect to shop online during the peak  holiday season, versus 30% in 2019. In addition, 39% will shop on Cyber Monday (compared to 33% last year) and 36% on Black Friday (up from 29% in 2019). 

Electronics was the top vertical for both Black Friday and Cyber Monday. However, apparel and accessories took over for holiday. 

Here’s one takeaway for firms preparing to plunge ahead — that “personalizing on-site experiences and email marketing will be crucial to differentiate brand offerings and attract those all-important conversions from new and returning visitors alike.” 

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