Marketers sent 129 billion emails, 7.2 billion push notifications and 3.7 billion SMS messages via the Salesforce Marketing Cloud during the holiday season, the company reports.
And these communications apparently did their job, helping firms achieve a 50% increase in digital sales YoY to reach a global total of $1.1 trillion, according to tracking by Salesforce.
But retailers should prepare for “returnageddon”— over $330 billion in online purchases are expected to be returned worldwide — 30% of purchases, Salesforce says.
Sales peaked later in the season, despite an earlier start in October. Brands generated $270 billion globally and $60 billion in the U.S. during Cyber Week.
In addition, global sales totaled $181 billion during the first two weeks in December, including $39 billion in the U.S.
In part because of the COVID-19 pandemic, curbside pickup soared. U.S. retailers that offered this service enjoyed a 49% increase in revenue growth, while those that didn’t achieved 28% — still not a shabby result.
Companies that provided curbside, drive-through and in-store pickup pulled 54% growth in the five days leading up to Christmas, while those that did not offer it saw 34%.
In another development, "buy now, pay later" plans achieved 109% growth in usage, surging during the week before Christmas.
The hottest product categories were sporting goods — which saw 108% revenue growth over the prior year — and home goods, with 89%.
Food and beverage brands saw 80% growth. At the lower end of the spectrum, general apparel drew 40% growth, while footwear saw 39% and active apparel saw 35%.
As for the role of Salesforce in all this, the company reports 76% growth in online sales powered by its Commerce Cloud.
There was a 25% hike in digital orders powered by Einstein, the firm’s AI tool, and Einstein fueled 11% of all sales.
In addition, Service Cloud agents received more than 946 million customer service calls during the seas, viewing or working on cases over 14.5 billion time, the firm says.
Will retailers drop their popular pick-up and finance services once the pandemic has receded?
“We expect to see these new innovations remain in 2021 with holiday strategies becoming the new standard that consumers expect from their favorite retailers and brands,” states Rob Garf, vice president, industry strategy for retail at Salesforce.