Looking Back at 2020 Holiday Shopping Digital Results & Trends

Due to the global supply chain, retail distribution has been quite challenging these days. Last month, we encouraged marketers to think about delays in terms of your omnichannel strategy for the holiday season. While we are looking ahead and preparing for what is to come, we decided it would be helpful to look back as well. Focusing on 2020 holiday shopping digital results and trends, there is a story to be told for this year’s predictions and results.

  • Annual Events & Celebratory Days

Last year, online shopping hit all-time records. Revenue grew by 32% YoY and exceeded $188.2B for the first time (source: Adobe Analytics). Thanksgiving Day resulted in a record 20%+ YoY in online sales with consumer spend $5B+. On Black Friday, consumers spent $9B, making it a top online shopping day (source: Search Engine Land). Cyber Monday spending exceeded $10B (source: Investopedia). While November and December are important months, the impact of annual events and celebratory days is unrivaled year after year.

Smartphones vs. Tablets and Desktops

In looking at the record-breaking spending on Thanksgiving day and Black Friday in 2020, much of that shopping occurred on smartphones. In fact, almost 50% of the transactions from Thanksgiving day were completed on smartphones, which was yet another record; and 40% of spending on Black Friday was executed on a smartphone (source: Search Engine Land). With digital adoption climbing, we expect smartphones to continue winning with holiday shopping this year.

  • Changing Consumer Behavior

Both physical behavior as well as interests and values are important factors to consider. In terms of physical behavior last year, hours spent on shopping apps was up 50% YoY (source: App Annie via Forbes). When discussing values, interests and what U.S. consumers bought for holiday 2020, 63% purchased products online that they had not considered before the pandemic; this number rose to 75% for millennials (source: PFS Commerce via Forbes). This year, consumers will likely focus on the technology itself; frictionless checkouts, fast load speeds and more will undoubtedly drive success for competing retailers.

Power of Social Media

Social media was the reason that 45% of consumers “discovered something new online last [holiday] season and said it was a gift for someone” (source: Big Commerce). Additionally, it was the first year that Facebook Shops became available. Since then, we have seen the power of not only Facebook Shops, but the importance of both paid and organic social as well as the power of influencer marketing in this era of intense digital adoption.  

  • Importance of Reviews, Powered by Customer Experience

Customers relied heavily on reviews and recommendations in 2020. The number of digital touchpoints that a brand has with a consumer is constantly evolving. For example, BOPIS was a huge draw for consumers with convenience and experience remaining top-of-mind. With increasing retailer competition, reviews and recommendations became that much more important. Looking at how much consumers relied on reviews last year, there is an opportunity to capitalize on those positive reviews with your marketing spend. 

In reviewing many of holiday 2020’s top digital trends, specific learnings can be applied to holiday 2021. For example, positive reviews can be included in SEM to increase paid search results; influencer marketing can both inspire purchase decisions and provide branded content; and hot new channels like Connected TV (CTV) can capitalize on smartphone usage.

All in all, if the big gift you’re asking for this holiday season is significant ROI and impactful revenue streams from your marketing campaigns, we can deliver, just put it on your list!

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