Despite the significant economic hardships unique to 2020, holiday spending is up nearly 28% from 2019.
While overall brick-and-mortar retail sales are predictably down due in part to stay-at-home directives, Cyber Monday 2020 set records for the largest online shopping day in U.S. history. Cyber Monday online spending increased 15.1% over last year, totaling $10.8 billion in sales. During Cyber Week (the five days from Thanksgiving to Cyber Monday) shoppers spent $34.36 billion, 21% more than they did last year.
Early shopping was the theme, driven in part by shipping, financial, and logistics concerns. Retailers encouraged holiday spending by offering deals and promotions as early as October. The National Retail Federation reports that 52% of holiday shoppers took advantage of early holiday sales this year.
The 2020 holiday season presented a unique set of opportunities and challenges. Ever resilient, people continued to buy gifts for their friends and family, looking for deals and incentives for both personal and professional purchases. Both B2C and B2B shoppers demonstrated a growing preference for e-commerce, putting the pressure on vendors and retailers to deliver a seamless online experience.
So what’s the key lesson learned from Cyber Week 2020? The influence of digital is only getting bigger.
B2B is beginning to look a lot like B2C in terms of buyer preferences. E-commerce adoption is only going to grow in 2021, so brands need to get on board or risk being left behind. Lastly, don’t underestimate the power of a smart digital strategy to maximize every customer opportunity, regardless of changing sales models, preferences, and trends.
B2B Catches the B2C Holiday Spirit
Over the course of the year, B2B buyers gravitated toward online buying options, following suit with their B2C counterparts. Many B2B businesses got into the holiday spirit – analyzing a segment of our B2B wholesale clients, transactions spanning Cyber Week were up 52% over last year.
We’re seeing the lines between B2B and B2C continuing to blur, with B2B brands increasingly mimicking B2C experiences and promotional calendars. Historically, Cyber Week was strictly consumer-focused, but many creative B2B brands took advantage of the shopping fervor and ran successful promotions. One of our B2B clients, a global enterprise company, achieved record-breaking Cyber Monday performance, increasing online sales 14% year-over-year through strategic email marketing campaigns.
Another Whereoware wholesale client, Brownlow Gifts, borrowed their strategy from B2C tactics, moving their typical early November email campaign to the end of the month, and featuring significant incentives and more aggressive, Black Friday-style messaging and imagery. By acknowledging that their B2B buyers are consumers in their personal lives, Brownlow Gifts successfully increased revenue across the weekend by more than 40% over last year.
E-commerce Is Here To Stay
Even as restrictions lift and in-person shopping returns, your website will remain a critical channel. According to Forrester, 80% of B2B buyers expect to do purchasing online in the post-pandemic era, compared with the pre-pandemic period; signaling an enduring shift in behavior, not solely attributable to 2020’s unique public safety regulations.
It’s more important than ever to deliver a great online experience and make it easy to do business with you, for B2B buyers and consumers alike. This means prioritizing a robust e-commerce site with features that today’s customers expect out of their shopping experience.
Customers are becoming more and more self-sufficient and want convenient, self-service access to products, answers, and tools. Eye-catching product imagery, detailed product descriptions, and product recommendations are crucial to providing an interactive online experience, where customers feel comfortable and knowledgeable about their options. Help inform their buying decisions with user-generated content, including reviews and imagery of your products in use. These features lend credibility to your brand and help your customers experience your products in a more tangible way.
On the B2B side, a dedicated sales representative may have traditionally served as the primary source of product knowledge, but today’s retailers now want to do their own product research, order online, or access their business history. These self-service features mirror B2C shopping experiences and help retailers fulfil inventory, while encouraging purchases outside of the traditional sales cycle and creating a stickier vendor-retailer relationship.
All I Want For Christmas is A Smart Digital Strategy
The outside world will continue to disrupt traditional ways of doing business (although, we hope 2021 will be uneventful compared to 2020) and customer preferences will continue to evolve. How you handle those changes is what will land you on your customers naughty or nice list.
A smart digital strategy connects your business goals, customers’ needs, and path forward. It ensures you capitalize on the right customer opportunities and don’t waste budget on tactics that won’t work. It ensures your message is connected, consistent, and coherent across channels – your website, social, email, and more – so every time a customer interacts with your brand, they have the very best experience.
A solid, albeit flexible, digital strategy ensures your sales and marketing efforts achieve desired results and drive meaningful business outcomes. Whether your holiday sales were lackluster or a roaring success, a smart digital strategy will help you ring in the New Year strong and continue to grow beyond 2021.