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2020: A Very Unconventional Retail Holiday Season

by Alex Sayyah
06 November, 2020

ECommerce has been chipping away at the traditional brick-and-mortar holiday shopping season for years, but as Covid-19 cases surge in many cities across the US, 2020 is promising a more dramatic shift to online shopping than ever before. Rather than the customary Black Friday lines snaking around parking lots outside big box retail, expect to see shuttered malls, closed storefronts, and a more cautious consumer emerge — sending an unprecedented number of holiday shoppers to pass over in-person shopping for digital retail. So, what else can we expect from this very unconventional retail holiday season?

 

Enter the early bird
Consumers will be shopping earlier than in a typical year (one forecast estimated a record-shattering 33% of consumers plan to have their holiday shopping wrapped by Black Friday). The National Retail Federation has embraced an early shopping message with its “Shop safe, shop early” holiday ad campaign, which implores consumers to shop early to avoid crowded stores later in the season. Retailers are also expected to frontload sales and discount incentives at the start of the shopping season (Amazon Prime Day kicked off the shopping season back in mid-October) in the hope of avoiding eleventh hour logistical and shipping complications, both of which increase their costs.

 

A continued eCommerce surge

Despite economic anxiety, high unemployment and ongoing market instability, an economic forecaster at Deloitte is predicting holiday spending to be up in 2020 over previous years, with reduced spending on pandemic-disrupted services like travel and restaurants providing consumers with extra disposable income this year. In total, Deloitte puts projected 2020 holiday eCommerce revenues over 2019 by 25 – 35% ($182 billion – $196 billion). Compare that with previous year-over-year online growth numbers of 14.7% in 2019 ($145 billion) and you’re talking about fitting nearly two years of growth into a single shopping season.

 

Unprecedented retail pressure

While these predictions may seem like good news for retail, it should be a wake up call for businesses who have been slow to update their sales order management, inventory tracking, and shipping systems, as a surplus of online orders in a longer-than-ever-before holiday shopping season could present the underprepared with a pretty hefty logistical challenge.

Retailers, manufacturers, vendors and sales agencies who have already transformed their eCommerce and sales order management operations with robust platform solutions will find themselves in a better position to deal with 2020’s digital commerce landslide. The right platform will connect sales tools, teams, data, and processes under a unified digital umbrella, and platform solutions are also easily scalable — which means they can handle a big influx of holiday orders without breaking.

Aleran’s SaaS platform ecosystem gives users everything they need to sell online, grow their seller base and boost holiday revenues: from the back office tech to manage sales orders and inventory, to 3rd party PDF catalog integration, to the ability to quickly create B2B and B2C eCommerce shopping experiences, or even seasonal multi-vendor, multi-agency marketplaces.

In a year as unpredictable as 2020, a reliable, affordable platform solution is a must for retailers looking to opportunize the digital commerce wave coming their way.

Interested in taking Aleran’s platform for a test drive? Contact us today for a free product demo.

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