Thanksgiving, Christmas, New Year’s Eve are the trifecta of most profitable holidays for retailers.
2020, however, is bringing in a mixed bag of excitement, anxiety, and high hopes for the holiday season.
Despite consumers’ reduced appetite for shopping across an array of product categories (footwear, jewelry, formalwear) and newly found affinity towards others (online groceries, PJs, and electronics), in Q2-Q3, the global retail sales volumes are finally climbing as we roll into the holiday season. Between November 2020 and January 2021, retail sales are projected to increase by 1% to 1.5% (compared to the same period last year) and reach $1.15 billion, according to Deloitte.
During the 2020-2021 holiday season, ecommerce sales are expected to grow by 25% to 35%.
That’s the good and the bad news.
With more small businesses online and eager to recuperate their offset profits, this year’s competition for online shoppers will be as tough as it gets.
How the 2020 Holiday Sales Season Will Be Different
Despite the unsavory year (or perhaps because of it), 51% of consumers still plan to treat themselves and others to some indulgences.
1. Gifting will be different.
Most customers will prioritize physical gifts over experience-driven ones, unlike the previous year. Virtual gifts (subscriptions, gift certificates, store cards, digital products) are also among trending gift ideas.
2. Holiday budgets are down.
The majority (59%) of US shoppers plan to spend $300 or less on gifts this year. Only 19% plan to drop more than $500. For comparison, last year 25% of consumers spent $500 or above on gifts.
The overall attitude toward shopping remains conscious:
3. Corporate responsibility is under scrutiny.
Most expect brands to acknowledge what’s still happening around the world and become more transparent around their workplace practices, employee safety, and contributions towards the communities where they operate. According to Accenture:
- 57% of consumers would be inspired to shop with companies that supported their staff and customers during the pandemic.
- 41% of consumers plan to boycott retailers who recently laid off their staff or reduced benefits.
Balancing all these major shifts in consumer behaviors with increased online competition won’t be easy. But still doable with the right holiday marketing strategy in place.
4 Quick and Effective Promotional Strategies to Increase Holiday Sales
One in five small retailers is dependent on this holiday season to recuperate the cash losses due to mandatory shutdowns. Selling out for them is a strategic priority. Bigger online stores are in somewhat better financial positions, but still highly dependent on returning and new buyers.
To kickstart your holiday campaign planning, consider the next four promotional strategies. All of them offer a good mix of investment versus revenue generation for both the small and bigger folks.
1. Run a giveaway
The holiday season is all about sharing the joy. Giveaways play along nicely with that feeling of generosity. This year, however, you may want to put a different twist on your promo strategies — the socially-conscious one.
“The pandemic has reinforced the call for social consciousness and transparency that we’ve been witnessing over the past few years” – Accenture Holiday Shopping Survey 2020
In the light of recent happenings (major retail worker lay-offs, substandard health measures for remaining employees, etc), consumers are getting more selective with where they leave their dollars. Show that your ecommerce brand stands by the right values — transparency, community support, sustainability, and ethical employee treatment — by hosting a creative contest around a good cause. For example:
- Offer to donate a % from each sale to a local charity.
- Match each customer entry with a $1 donated to a good cause.
- Host a choose-what-you-pay contest, allowing customers to select a price tier for promo products.
- Encourage giveaway shares by matching referral entries with an extra donation.
Natori, for example, has a year-round donation program set on their website. Customers can choose to donate 1% from every purchased item to a charity of their choice:
You can set up a similar seasonal campaign using ShoppingGives — a donation service that seamlessly integrates with BigCommerce.
2. Provide loyal customers with unique discounts
Promos and discounts are among the top factors influencing holiday purchases. Considering that most consumers are still in the ‘save, rather than splurge’ state of mind, most will hunt for good deals.
Play in line with that mood and treat your loyal customers with personalized coupon codes. In fact, 49% already expect brands to always send personalized promotions in line with their preferences, per Deloitte.
Try some of the following ecommerce discount code ideas this holiday season:
- Send discounts for recently browsed, saved, or placed in the cart products.
- Personalize discounts based on loyalty status.
- Use location data to provide hyper-personalized local deals.
- Offer tiered discounts for each repeat purchase.
- Pitch a free personalized gift for different spending caps.
Jeni’s ice cream, for example, treated all holiday shoppers last year with an extra $20 gift card for every $100 spent on gift cards with them.
3. Create a sense of urgency with discount countdowns
Countdown timers trigger FOMO feelings among consumers. Also, they build up a sense of scarcity, forcing our brain to want the fleeing thing before it’s gone. German researchers found that a feeling of scarcity makes us auto-rate in-demand products as more attractive. And we rate luxury products more favorably if they are scarce due to limited supply.
Here’s how you can put that bit of knowledge into action:
- Use countdown timers in email marketing to promote short-term discounts for high-value, signature products. Keeping these sales semi-private helps prevent brand dilution. At the same time, you can still get a boost in online sales.
- Feature countdown banners on your website for the most in-demand products (or ones you wish to position as such). Placing a timer next to every product reminds shoppers that the time is running up soon so that they are more likely to proceed with the checkout (instead of hoarding products in the cart). Note: if a timer next to each product makes your website look messy, add a sticky header banner atop of your website.
4. Give first-time buyers a reason to return
With supply chains still disrupted, a lot of consumers are keen to discover new brands. If your company came on their radar during holidays, direct some extra effort at entertaining and retaining them. After all, a 5% increase in customer retention can drive up profits by 25% to 95%.
So how can you entice new customers to return? Try this:
- Get them on your loyalty program: Loyalty programs help move customers up the buying ladder, increase repeat business, and foster deeper emotional connections. Prompt subscription during check-out and sweeten the deal for first-time shoppers with a quick discount for second purchase.
- Pitch a subscription offer: Subscription boxes offer a recurring revenue stream — a nice-to-have option in times of uncertainty. Perhaps this is why 75% of DTC brands plan to have a subscription-based offering by 2023. Compound this with the fact that one in five consumers tried a new subscription box during the pandemic and the conclusion is rather clear: starting a subscription is good for ecommerce businesses and for their customers too.
- Excell the product delivery: Salesforce estimates that some 700 million gifts may not arrive on time this year due to congested last-mile delivery. At the same time, 56% of consumers say that they will not have repeat business with a retailer after a bad delivery experience. So test your shipping strategy before the holiday season to ensure that you can be there on time. Timely and positive delivery experience instills greater confidence in your brand and encourages repeat purchases.
On-page Optimization Strategies to Increase Conversion Rates
With most holiday shopping happening online this year, your ecommerce website must be up to it’s best. By using the next strategies, you’ll ensure that you are delivering the best holiday shopping experience to every visitor.
1. Optimize for mobile
Consumers spent over $50 billion via mobile devices during the 2019 holiday season, according to Adobe Digital Holiday Recap 2019. $2.9 billion of mobile commerce sales were made during Black Friday and $3 billion on Cyber Monday. Apparel, footwear, jewelry, and cosmetics were among the most-shopped mobile categories.
The mobile shopping trend will remain strong this year too. So make sure that you deliver the best experience for on-the-go shoppers:
- Run a Google Mobile-Friendly test and make the suggested optimizations.
- Personalize shipping estimates/product availability based on the customer’s location.
- Use above the fold area to highlight the sweetest deals.
- Enable dynamic page serving to improve website speed.
- Remove pop-ups and sidebars for mobile users as they add friction.
- Pre-fill customer details during check-out to avoid mistakes.
- Offer guest users to email their shopping list to finish shopping on the desktop.
- Add support for Apple Pay/Google Pay, PayPal One Touch to speed up the checkout.
Learn more about designing a delightful mobile shopping experience from our previous post.
2. Display security icons at checkout
Card-not-present fraud is rampant with a surged adoption of online shopping. Show that shopping with you is safe by placing security icons and trust badges at the check-out forms.
One eye-tracking study found ecommerce shoppers pay a lot of attention and recall security badges during checkout. Also, the participants confirmed that seeing trust badges increased their sense of security during check-out — prompting them to finish their purchase.
3. Optimize pop-ups, forms, and website messaging
Website micro-copy — button names, call-to-actions, forms, and pop-ups — often get overlooked during seasonal content re-optimization. Shamefully so as it’s the small details that add an extra feeling of delight and prompt conversions.
Most ecommerce business owners can’t run multiple A/B tests during the holiday campaigns to optimize every crevice of their website. So choose your priorities:
On-site pop-ups and banners: Give your regular pop-ups a seasonal flair. Change the colors, messaging, and value proposition to better match the seasonal promotion. However, don’t get all too giddy and bury your standard brand voice under the seasonal promo madness. Or you risk putting away some consumers.
Keep your seasonal messaging and offers aligned with your regular brand personality. Last year, Skullcandy maintained their sleek brand look during holiday sales but opted for a clever on-brand promo copy for their homepage banner to draw attention to current discounts.
Billing & shipping forms: These two forms are the most error-prone, and oftentimes confusing for the customer. Make the job easier for everyone by:
- Pre-filling the details for repeat customers.
- Auto-checking shipping address for validity.
- Providing a drop-down list of street addresses based on zip code.
- Displaying service messages about shipping times and possible delays.
- Adding tooltips to form fields that may steer confusion.
- Placing extra microcopy to explain what data you need (e.g. shipping address must match credit card address).
On-page CTAs: Call-to-actions are the trickiest to optimize. Try testing new variations several weeks before the campaign launch. To do that:
- Add a heatmap tool to your homepage and several product pages to analyze which website elements trigger visitors’ attention.
- Create several call-to-action variations for those elements. Write more explanatory button texts e.g. “request pricing” instead of “request quote” or “Pay later” instead of “Pay with Klarna”. Try changing product descriptions too. Add more product features, infuse more personality into your writing, test several new ecommerce copywriting formulas.
- Run a series of A/B tests to benchmark the performance of new elements versus the old ones. Scale what works. Ditch what doesn’t.
Treat Customers to the Best Holiday Commerce Experience
Holiday shopping can be whimsically wonderful or miserably gruesome (especially when done last moment). It’s in your power to decide which experience your customers will get this year. Help them get the best out of their shopping spree(s) by testing the next 6 strategies.
1. Create holiday gift guides.
The holiday season can be mentally taxing for some shoppers, struggling to find the right gift for an array of people on their list. Reduce their feeling of overwhelm by curating a series of holiday guides, featuring your products.
Get creative and think beyond the standard “For Him/For Her” categories. Pinterest found that last year holiday shoppers were increasingly looking for:
- Personalized gift ideas
- Sustainable gift ideas
- Self-care package gifts
- Snail-mail gifts
- Teacher Christmas gift ideas
- Colleague Christmas gift ideas
Use last year’s shopping customer data to determine which gift categories will work best for your customers. Then set up dedicated holiday landing pages for them and optimize them around relevant search queries. Take a page from Molton Brown that let’s shoppers discover gift suggestions for all sorts of occasions and within their budget:
SEO-optimized holiday guides and product landing pages can drive extra search traffic to your website, plus street the returning customers in the right direction.
2. Offer free shipping or special deliveries.
Despite store re-openings, 77% of shoppers still want their online purchases delivered to their homes. Salesforce also suggests that home-deliveries will be in the highest demand, but so do store pickups. Retailers offering curbside, inside, and drive-through pick-ups will see a 90% increase in digital sales compared to last season.
Given that last-mile delivery providers will be likely overwhelmed, offering both options is the best way to ensure that all your customers get their orders on time. Di Bruno Bros, for example, is already testing both:
3. Provide the best customer service.
Proactive solving of your customers’ issues during the holiday season is key to winning them for the long-term.
A Deloitte survey found that three out of five consumers will ditch their favorite brand (one they’ve been with for 3+ years) after a bad customer service interaction.
Also, two out of three won’t buy again from the company if they never received a solution to their complaint.
However, maintaining high service levels during the hectic holiday season is challenging. Between ensuring product stock, timely shipping, and normal website operations, it’s easy to miss some urgent customer queries.
So plan ahead and scale your customer service before the hottest part of the sales season kicks in. Here’s how:
- Create or update self-help pages, offering a quick resolution to the most frequent customer issues.
- Add a chatbot to act as a first-line of help, guiding users towards the right answers, and providing basic help.
- Hire extra people for your CS team to take over online support — live chat, email queries, social media questions.
If you have extra budgets, consider adopting an AI-driven conversational platform to assist with online support. New-gen platforms can pre-write answers to the common customer questions, auto-serve relevant data to agents, and otherwise augment the speed and accuracy of their replies. Intercom, Cognity AI, Twyla, and Bold360 offer intelligent automation solutions for customer support.
4. Run a holiday social media campaign.
Social media has become an independent shopping avenue with the rise of the shoppable posts. Consumers are hooked, especially the younger ones. Per Salesforce, ,many Gen Zs made a purchase on social media during the pandemic.
So how do you bridge the gap between inspiration and purchase on social media without dropping too much cash on ads?
Start building your social media audience lists 1-2 months before the holiday season.
This way when the holiday season kicks in, you won’t be burning cash on generic ads marketing to disinterested consumers or people who are not familiar with your brand. Or rub elbows with a ton of other brands pitching similar deals. Experiment with different types of social media posts and ad formats to determine engaged users and perhaps convert some to your email list. Direct most of your efforts to fill your sales funnel with brand-aware and interested prospects.
When November kicks in, get more hands-on, and convert those shoppers with:
- Offer ads on Facebook.
- Remarketing ads to visitors/past customers.
- Shoppable Instagram posts.
- Time-sensitive promo codes shared in Instagram stories.
5. Work with micro-influencers.
Influencer marketing can help increase brand awareness during the pre-holiday season. Similar to social ads, you are likely to get the best returns if you:
- Invest early in early promos for the top of the funnel customers.
- Carefully select your pool of partnerships.
- Focus on increasing brand awareness/recall, rather than sales alone.
Last year 90% of marketers said that ROI from influencer marketing was comparable to or better than other marketing channels. The wrinkle, however, is that attributing the exact dollar value to influencer-generated sales isn’t always easy.
Perhaps that’s why a lot of smaller ecommerce brands remain wary of this promo strategy. If you are on the cautious, but curious side in 2020, here’s a good option for you — run a micro-influencer holiday campaign.
Micro-influencers (people with 1,000 to 10,000 followers on social media) usually have highly-engaged audiences around a certain interest group (e.g. skincare, home design, healthy eating, etc). According to a 2019 Holiday Micro-Influencer Marketing Report, negotiating a campaign with the smaller folks can bring in a bevy of benefits:
- 73% of micro-influencer content outperformed macro-influencer content.
- 68% of them do not increase prices during the holiday season.
Want to give it a try? Hop on social media and look for conversation-starters in your industry or around your consumer interests. Pay attention to the number of comments and video views above the average number of likes per post to find truly active accounts.
You can also sign up for an influencer marketing platform to get matched with pre-vetted influencers, suggested based on your criteria. Some of the popular ones are Post for Rent, Stellar, and Neoreach.
6. Send creative cart abandonment emails.
Over 88% of shopping carts get abandoned across all sales categories. During the holiday season, e-tailers can expect this number to go even higher as consumers hunt for deals, shop around, or altogether forget about their earlier intention to shop with your brand.
Get back on their shopping radar by sending a quick email reminder to complete their purchase. And since it’s the holiday season, sprinkle it with some extra topping.
- Use humor to prompt shopper to complete their purchase
- Add a small discount for products left in the card
- Promise a coupon code for the second order with you
Read more about creating attention-grabbing ecommerce cart abandonment emails.
Pitch or Ditch? How to Know Which Tactic Can Actually Increase Your Sales
Given that 2020 was a tough year for most companies, you need to be extra careful with your promo spending. After all, many marketing tricks don’t bring the advertised clicks. To line up the strongest marketing strategies for this year’s campaign, evaluate each one by asking the next questions.
1. Does it make sense for your target audience?
Throwing in extra cash in TikTok marketing (that’s oh-so-hot right now) won’t make sense if your primary buyers are older Millennials and Gen X types. Use your historical data to drive your decision for this year’s campaign. Specifically, try to gauge:
- How price-sensitive and discount-driven is your primary audience?
- How well do they respond to various campaign types?
- What type of brand experience do they prioritize — faster shipping, free shipping, personalized offers, etc?
A quick email survey can help you collect these nuggets before you go into active marketing mode.
2. Have you tried it in the past?
Analyze the results of last year’s campaign. Which channels brought it the highest ROI? Did you experience any particular types of complaints e.g. ineffective shipping? Identify several strategies that got you great results and pepper them up with 1-2 new tricks.
3. Do you have the tools to implement it?
Determine if new tech investments will pay-off. For instance, if your total influencer marketing budget is $1,500, paying a $250 fee to access an influencer marketplace may not be the best choice. However, if you are running a larger campaign with 10-15 participants, a comprehensive platform can save you a lot of time on managing campaigns, plus help ensure that you are partnering with the right peeps for your brand.
4. Does the tactic cost you money?
While there’s no such thing as absolutely free publicity, some marketing tactics cost you less to execute since you already have the tools, tech, and people to run them. Still, they won’t be completely free if you are reallocating your time from other tasks.
Assess each tactic from the perspective of upfront investment vs possible ROI vs ease of execution. Aim for:
- High ROI and very easy to do.
- Low upfront investment plus high ROI.
You now have a working set of ecommerce marketing strategies to increase your holiday sales. So it’s time to get to work!
Start with the lowest hanging fruits — marketing strategies you’ve already tested and that are still relevant in the current shopping landscape. Add them to your marketing plan for 2020.
Then move on to pre-holiday planning. Determine the discount strategy for different holidays, channels, and customer groups. Review your website and identify which areas need improvements — product descriptions, banners, CTAs, or any other assets. Also, start working on your seasonal content.
Next, decide on your social media strategy for the holidays. Set your budgets, distribute them among different campaign types (ads, influencer marketing, organic content creation). Start running pre-holiday promos to get some new leads to the top of your funnel.
Also, ensure that your CS team is properly staffed and in hot-response mode. Reach out to your shipping partner to ask about the potential delays and organize back-up/alternative logistics.
Lastly, don’t postpone your planning any further. Take one of the strategies from this guide and start acting on it now!
In 1858, a package traveling from St. Louis to San Francisco would take a lightning-fast 25 days. Back then, this delivery time was considered an immensely impressive turnaround.
Today, ecommerce sellers deliver packages to the other side of the country within days, if not hours. And shoppers expect it.
Since selling its first product in 1994, Amazon has changed the game for quick fulfillment. Amazon Prime’s 2-day deliveries are now the ecommerce standard, 33% of customers who opt for fast shipping are willing to wait 3 or more days for online orders.
In fact, fast shipping is so crucial today that 27% shoppers will choose one retailer over another because they have better delivery options.
If you can perform the balancing act of delivering online orders quickly enough without significantly increasing your operational overheads, you’re well into an ecommerce goldmine. But are 2-day deliveries easier said than done?
Customer Shipping Expectations
We all know that change is the only constant in life, and this holds true with shipping time expectations.
In the early days of ecommerce, shopping online was a novelty that meant shipping speeds weren’t that important, and standard shipping was the norm. Ordering something from your sofa and getting home delivery was a feat, and impressive enough in itself.
Fast forward forty years, and 2-day delivery is beyond important to customers. It determines where they shop, how much they spend, and the reviews they leave.
On average, online shoppers now deem 3 days an acceptable amount of time to wait for an online order.
Speed isn’t the only expectation that’s changing, either.
Your customers’ orders must be fast, trackable, and free for best results. It sounds great for buyers, and daunting for sellers.
What is 2-Day Delivery?
2-day delivery means shoppers receive their orders within two days or purchase, providing they meet a cut-off order time. That means a 2-day time period between order placement and delivery date.
Depending on a seller’s internal processes and the shipping carrier used, this could be two full days or two business days, counted from the time of checkout or the order cutoff time.
For example, Walmart TwoDay Delivery ships orders received before 2 p.m. within two business days in the contingent US. So, if a customer orders a product on Monday morning, it’s delivered the following Wednesday.
If someone orders an eligible item at 5 p.m. on Friday, they can expect to receive it the following Wednesday, since it’s after the 2 p.m. cutoff and excludes the weekend.
2-Day Delivery: Behind the Scenes
2-day delivery might be as simple as a click for customers, but there’s a lot of work behind the scenes to ensure they receive orders on time – especially if they live across the country from your warehouse.
All deliveries must be coordinated between two main shipping options: Ground and Air shipping.
1. Ground shipping.
Ground shipping is the use of trucks, vans, and cars to transport orders from your warehouse to a customer’s front porch.
Depending on your fulfillment set-up, you might use your own or an external shipping carrier’s ground transport.
Ground shipping is the cheapest delivery method, allowing you to keep costs low and offer free two-day delivery without breaking the bank.
However, distance restricts ground shipping. If customers live too far away from your warehouse, you must consider alternative transportation methods or invest in a distributed network of warehouses to reach customers in time.
2. Air shipping.
Air shipping uses planes to transport orders to customers.
Air shipping is typically used to deliver products stored overseas or ship products to customers living too far away for 2-day ground shipping.
Air shipping is much more expensive than ground shipping, especially if you’re not shipping in bulk. Having to use air shipping to achieve 2-day delivery makes it difficult to offer free shipping to customers.
3. Combine ground and air for cost-effective reliability.
The most efficient and cost-effective method for achieving 2-day deliveries is using a combination of ground and air shipping.
For example, Deliverr has a distributed network of warehouses all across the country. We use machine learning to store SKUs as close as possible to buyers, based on the location of historic demand. That way, we can select the most cost-effective shipping to get items to buyers within 2 days or fewer.
Use Deliverr to fulfill your BigCommerce orders: Sign Up for Free
Why You Need to Offer 2-Day Delivery on Your Store
According to eMarketer, ecommerce is expected to drive more than $4.2 trillion in 2020 and increase to over $6.5 trillion by 2023 worldwide. More people are shopping and selling online than ever before.
For ecommerce merchants, that means one thing: Competition.
It’s becoming increasingly difficult to attract, convert, and retain customers using traditional ecommerce tactics such as low prices, niche products, or being first to market.
Fast delivery options are different. They stand out, meet expectations, and exceed them by providing customers with extra value. Here’s why you must offer 2-day delivery, if you aren’t already, as soon as possible.
1. Reduce cart abandonment.
18% of cart abandonment is because of slow delivery speeds. Some customers can’t wait longer than 2 days for an urgent item, a last-minute present, or an eagerly anticipated treat.
2-day delivery overcomes some speed-related purchase blockers which in turn can reduce cart abandonment and increase conversions. According to Deliverr’s data, one merchant saw a 300% increase in conversion after implementing 2-day delivery.
2. Boost customer satisfaction and loyalty.
More than a third of customers won’t return to a retailer following a bad delivery experience.
Today, the online shopping experience encompasses everything from order to unboxing, and a huge part of that is how long it takes to go between those two steps. 2-day deliveries boost customer satisfaction by adding the finishing touches to an outstanding customer experience.
Delivering quickly shows you can fulfill as promised, you’re dependable, and you care about premium customer experiences, which are necessary ingredients for increasing customer loyalty.
3. Expand your marketing influence.
Fast shipping speeds give you something exciting, attention-grabbing, and useful to share across your marketing materials.
You can add fast shipping banners, tags, and wording to your emails, social media posts, and website. This works for ads as well, when you can highlight your delivery speeds in a way that hooks customers and entices them to click through to your store.
Based on Deliverr data, some Deliverr merchants have seen a 50% increase in Facebook CPA by adding next-day and 2-day delivery badges to their Facebook posts.
Tip: Get 2-day delivery across the United States (continental US) when you fulfill with Deliverr. Your orders will show next-day shipping for buyers in eligible zip codes at no extra charge.
How to Keep 2-Day Delivery Costs Low
According to the Baymard Institute, shipping costs are one of the top reasons for cart abandonment. If you can’t get your delivery costs low enough, you could deter customers or end up footing the bill yourself and losing your profit margins.
For 2-day deliveries to be attractive to customers and sustainable for your business, you need to know how to keep your 2-day delivery costs low.
1. Only offer 2-day delivery with a minimum order value.
A minimum purchase value for free 2-day shipping means customers must spend a certain order amount before qualifying for 2-day delivery. This increases basket sizes to ensure you’re making enough profit margin to absorb delivery costs.
And it’s not uncommon. For example, non-Prime members must spend a minimum of $25 on Amazon to qualify for free 2-day shipping.
2. Provide 2-day delivery for specific zip codes.
Providing 2-day delivery for only specific zip codes near your warehouses reduces the distance orders must travel, keeping your carrier costs to a minimum.
When you limit eligibility for free two-day shipping, it gives you more time to fulfill orders and, depending on how close your customers live, allows for next-day deliveries at no extra cost.
Tip: Deliverr provides free NextDay Delivery for shoppers in eligible zip codes, at no extra cost to merchants (they’ll still pay the flat 2-day delivery fulfillment fee). Learn more about this here.
3. Work with an outsourced fulfillment partner to get discounted shipping rates.
3PLs have economies of scale to access discounted shipping rates, keeping your delivery costs low.
However, it’s important to work with one tailored to offer ecommerce fulfillment services that integrate with all of your sales channels, with no unexpected fees or administrative costs.
4. Use ground shipping and ship from urban fulfillment centers.
Ground shipping is the cheapest method of delivering orders in 2-days. Therefore, if you distribute your inventory across a network of urban fulfillment centers, you increase your SKUs coverage across the contingent US. This will reduce the distance your items have to travel to reach your buyers, allowing you to use ground shipping for 2-day deliveries.
3 Ways to Offer 2-Day Shipping
The best option for offering 2-day shipping is the method that best balances capacity and costs. You must deliver orders on time throughout the year in a way that keeps your business profitable.
This could mean in-house fulfillment, outsourcing parts of your fulfillment process, or using Deliverr for an end-to-end fulfillment partner.
1. In-house fulfillment.
In-house fulfillment involves using your own resources, space, and staff to ship orders within 2-days. This includes:
- Receiving and storing stock.
- Tracking and analyzing inventory.
- Picking and packing orders.
- Shipping deliveries with a reliable shipping carrier.
The benefits of in-house fulfillment are control and cost. You have complete control over how you meet 2-day delivery speeds, and you have a tighter rein over where you spend and save money.
The considerations of in-house fulfillment are capacity and scale. Delivering orders within 2-days requires highly efficient fulfillment processes, which are difficult to maintain during peak periods such as the holidays or when growing your ecommerce business.
For these reasons, many sellers choose to switch from in-house to outsourced fulfillment.
2. Outsourced fulfillment.
Outsourced fulfillment involves using an outsourced fulfillment center to achieve 2-day delivery speeds for you. This includes:
- Receiving inbound stock.
- Storing and tracking inventory.
- Receiving orders.
- Picking, packing, and shipping.
The benefits of outsourced fulfillment are expertise and capacity. Outsourced fulfillment centers excel at the fast shipping speeds of ecommerce and have scalable space and resources to meet 2-day deliveries, regardless of how busy or big your business becomes.
The considerations of using outsourced fulfillment are cost and sales channels.
While outsourced fulfillment centers have economies of scale that reduces storage, packaging, and carrier costs, some 3PLs sting you with hidden charges. For example, traditional 3PL models charge administrative, inbound shipment, and account management fees that quickly add up.
Another consideration of using outsourced fulfillment is multiple sales channel integration. Not all 3PLs integrate with all sales channels, and those that do may charge extra. For example, Multi-channel FBA fulfills non-Amazon orders but charges a premium fee for doing so.
Deliverr is an outsourced fulfillment service designed to facilitate fast delivery speeds of 2-days and fewer across sales channels. This includes:
- Disbursing in-bound stock across a network of warehouses in the US.
- Storing inventory close to customers to enable quicker shipping.
- Integrating with sales channels to download orders immediately.
- Picking and packing orders.
- Shipping using the most efficient and cost-effective carriers.
The major benefits of using Deliverr are speed and cost. Deliverr uses a network of warehouses and shipping carriers to deliver orders as quickly and cost-effectively as possible — providing 2-day shipping speeds that qualify for fast shipping programs across marketplaces and your own website.
Deliverr also offers a transparent and all-inclusive pricing structure, so you know precisely how much your fulfillment fee will be, with no hidden fees or surprise charges.
Calculate your fulfillment costs with Deliverr on their cost calculator.
The considerations of using Deliverr are branded packaging and control.
Deliverr doesn’t accommodate branding packaging because it slows down the fulfillment process, making 2-day deliveries challenging. But, since 67% of shoppers say convenience is the most important factor when buying online, it’s a little price to pay for many.
Outsourcing fulfillment to Deliverr requires relinquishing a little control over storage and fulfillment. But, with live inventory management tools tracking your stock, and fast shipping experts handling your fulfillment, many sellers don’t mind handing over this part of their business.
Tip: Check out common Deliverr FAQs here.
By picking the best fulfillment option, you’re not just offering fast shipping; You’re providing fast, reliable, and affordable 2-day delivery for both your customers and your business.
Whether you’re new to ecommerce or an established brand, your bottom line can benefit immensely from 2-day shipping when you do it right.
It’s that time of year again where retailers and shoppers rejoice. The clock is ticking and the countdown to Black…
When people think about the first SaaS startup, typically Salesforce comes to mind. But while Salesforce began as a SaaS, other early SaaS software started on the floppy disks and CD-ROMs of the pre-internet time.
Look at business travel and expense software Concur. After the 2001 market crash, Concur moved away from physical software to become a pure SaaS business. It then grew so fast that, in 2014, SAP bought Concur in what was then the largest ever SaaS acquisition.
The last twenty years have seen a lot of SaaS growth, taking the software development model from its infancy into where it is today — powering a significant amount of the business processes at even large enterprises.
What is SaaS?
SaaS platforms make software available to users over the internet, usually for a monthly subscription fee.
With SaaS, you don’t need to install and run software applications on your computer. Everything is available over the internet via your web browser when you log into your account online. You can usually access the software from any device, anytime (as long as there is an internet connection).
The same goes for anyone else using the software. All your staff will have personalized logins, suitable to their access level.
You no longer need to engage an IT specialist to download the software onto multiple computers throughout your office or worry about keeping the software on every computer up-to-date. It’s all taken care of in the cloud.
Another key difference is the business model. For pricing, most SaaS providers operate a tiered subscription model with fixed, inclusive monthly account fees.
Most subscriptions include maintenance, compliance, and security services, which can be time-consuming and costly.
SaaS vendors also offer out-of-the-box solutions that are simple to set up (if you need a basic package), with more complex solutions for larger organizations. You could have the basic software up and running within a matter of hours – and you’ll have access to customer service and support along the way.
SaaS vs PaaS vs IaaS
Software-as-a-service, platform-as-a-service, and infrastructure-as-a-service are three different models for running your business from the cloud.
- IaaS: cloud-based services, pay-as-you-go for services such as storage, networking, and virtualization. If your business engages data centers, that falls under IaaS.
- PaaS: hardware and software tools available over the internet.
- SaaS: software that’s available via a third-party over the internet.
- On-premise: software that’s installed in the same building as your business.
The History of SaaS
The emergence of cloud computing enabled software to be installed on off-premise remote servers which, in some cases, were maintained by third parties. This reduced the amount of necessary maintenance and better enabled an increasingly global workforce, because software “in the cloud” was accessible from anywhere.
Over time, improvements to the internet decreased the cost of hosting, leading to platforms lifting many of the early bandwidth limitations, and made online business processes faster and more reliable.
Cost-efficiency, ease of use, and improvements to core functionality all led to exponential growth in SaaS. Today, it’s a practical option even for enterprise-level businesses.
1. SaaS in the beginning.
In the 1960s, computer hardware technology was progressing rapidly. However, computing still took a lot of time — and the cost of a mainframe was prohibitive to many organizations. That’s where time-sharing comes in. That’s where time-sharing comes in. A Compatible Time-Sharing System (CTSS) was developed at MIT and demonstrated effective first in 1961.
2. Pre-SaaS computing.
Over the next 20–30 years, hardware and computing became less expensive and more portable. That’s when businesses shifted toward individual “ownership”: personal computers and on-premise software installed on that machine as part of a purchased license.
But on-premise software proved to be inefficient at scale — for both the IT staff managing it and the software companies selling it.
IT found themselves bogged down in software installations, updates, security patching, and hardware and infrastructure maintenance of personal business computers. Software businesses had lower margins because of cost of goods sold (COGS) — the costs of software distribution on disks within product packaging.
3. Rise of dot com.
In August of 1994, the internet took a big step forward.
Daniel Kohn conducted the first secure credit card transaction for a physical good — a Sting CD. In an article published in the New York Times the very day after the transaction, the reporter wrote:
“While Commercenet [a government and industry organization] and other organizations have been working to develop a standard for the automated data encryption of commercial transactions, the small band of recent college graduates who formed the Net Market Company in New Hampshire appear to be the first to implement such technology successfully.”
Thereafter, everything that made ecommerce as we know it today started happening really quickly.
Netscape Navigator, in October 1994, introduced the Secure Sockets Layer (SSL) protocol, enabling encrypted transmission of data over the internet so people could shop online without fear of losing their data.
The very next year saw the launch of Jeff Bezos’ Amazon and Pierre Omidyar’s AuctionWeb, which we know today as eBay, the first peer-to-peer auction marketplace.
By the end of 2000, though it began as an ecommerce platform for books, Amazon had already branched out into other product categories and begun allowing third-party sellers to use the platform.
One of the benefits of the rise of the internet was the emergence of cloud computing. That allowed software to be installed on remote servers which, in some cases, were maintained by third parties.
This helped reduce the amount of necessary maintenance and better enabled an increasingly global workforce, because software “in the cloud” was accessible from anywhere.
Those functionality improvements began a move toward best-of-breed software providers who focused on doing one core function really well — allowing organizations to plug and play the software for each function that worked best for their business.
4. Creation of application service providers.
With an Application Service Provider (ASP), the main idea is essentially the same as that of SaaS — it provides computer-based services over a network. But, whereas SaaS is self-service, with the ASP model the vendor had to manually create each login and environment.
5. SaaS officially is here.
In 1999, Salesforce launched their customer relationship management (CRM) platform as the first SaaS solution built from scratch to achieve record growth. It proved to be a good investment, because the dot-com bust in 2001 — followed less than a decade later by the Great Recession — landed a significant hit to on-premise software.
In its infancy, the SaaS model was thought to be only for startups and small businesses, just a fad, too closed, too slow or unstable. But over the next several years, improvements to the internet that meant little to the traditional software industry, did much for SaaS.
In the earliest days of the SaaS industry, it was assumed that subscription-based software would not be viable for enterprise business. And, in fact, in those days the enterprise typically chose end-to-end software suites to manage their complex organizations.
6. SaaS reaches ubiquity.
Today, exponential growth of SaaS and continued improvements to functionality make it a valid option even for enterprise-level businesses. It’s also much cheaper and easier to use. SaaS customers frequently cite cost savings as one of its primary benefits.
You can find SaaS products for almost any business applications you can think of.
7. Future of SaaS.
The popularity of SaaS is evident in all the software industry giants moving toward using it, including Microsoft, SAP, Oracle and IBM. As SaaS industry adoption continues to grow, here are some of the things we may see happen in the software industry.
New roles of IT and the CIO: As SaaS apps are more often marketed to line-of-business users instead of technology decision-makers, IT must evolve into a proactive business partner that can help make sure purchase decisions are prudent in the context of broader organizational and IT goals.
Greater focus on automation: SaaS is making it easier for businesses to incorporate AI technology into their tech stacks. One example is using chatbots with artificial intelligence for quicker, more efficient customer service.
More open integrations: APIs will continue to grow in importance as SaaS products provide avenues for integration. Greater integration will make it easier even for smaller businesses to use business intelligence to improve their operations.
Openness will lead to flexibility: SaaS has come a long way from its initial form. Now, it’s much more flexible, and added emphasis on APIs will continue to make it more open and customizable for all businesses. That flexibility will lead to the kind of integrated systems the business of the future will need — like seamless connections between your ecommerce platform and other solutions like IMS/OMS, PIM, and ERPs.
SaaS Adoption Is Growing
“Years ago, SaaS limited your flexibility. You couldn’t make it your own. You had to go down a path of a custom platform,” said Chief Product Officer Jimmy Duvall. “That dynamic has shifted.”
The valuation of the market for SaaS products continues to grow. Despite a pause in growth between 2019 and 2020, likely due to a predicted holding pattern while the world reckons with the unprecedented impact of the pandemic, Gartner predicts the growth returns in 2021.
You can also see that organizations plan to reduce the use of commercially licensed software over the next 18 months, increasing free open source slightly, with a more significant increase in SaaS products.
As much as 67% of enterprise infrastructure will be cloud-based by the end of 2020.
Revolutionizing Businesses With SaaS (Advantages)
The SaaS market originally emerged to enable small businesses or individuals who couldn’t afford large enterprise software suites. Compared to on-premise software, though, end users were very limited in what they could do with SaaS — particularly because in early days bandwidth and file sizes were capped. Most mainstream players found SaaS to be too closed, slow or unstable to support any meaningful business activities.
Over time, improvements to the internet including more reliable broadband decreased costs, leading to platforms lifting many of the early bandwidth limitations and making scalability more possible, and made online business processes faster and more reliable.
Cost-efficiency, ease of use, and improvements to core functionality all led to exponential growth in SaaS. Today, it’s a practical option even for enterprise-level businesses.
1. Platform independent.
Since SaaS solutions are typically accessed on the web, they can be run on any operating system or device. That means it can be used by anyone, regardless of Windows versus Mac, iPhone versus Android, or even a Linux system.
2. Quick updates.
With SaaS, your software will be updated automatically when new features are released. No more having to wait for your IT team to have time after an update is issued. Keeping up with the security patches AND version updates necessary to have the latest secure version of an open source solution is time-consuming and labor intensive.
3. Relatively low cost.
SaaS also reduces users’ total cost of ownership when compared to open source. Because all of your hosting and maintenance is included, using a SaaS solution can not only give you a lower total cost of ownership, but it can also make it easier to calculate your operating costs with fewer surprises. Most SaaS platforms include all the bandwidth your store might need.
4. Secure data.
According to a study by KPMG, about 30 percent of customers would stop purchasing from a company temporarily after a data breach. Security is one less thing on your plate if you choose a SaaS option. Most SaaS ecommerce providers are PCI compliant and some include even stricter data security. For example, BigCommerce is ISO/IEC 27001:2013 certified, which is an internationally-recognized standard for information security.
5. Easy to use.
You no longer have to worry about software installation, updates, maintenance, or configuring your servers. All of this is handled for you by the platform provider, making SaaS options easier to set up and and to use. SaaS platforms also provide customer support to help with any challenges you do run into. This is support that goes beyond just phone calls for a major issue. You can call and get guidance on setting up a new feature or if you get stuck figuring out an integration.
Ecommerce SaaS Companies
SaaS ecommerce platforms provided an alternative to open source with less complexity and reduced barrier to entry.
BigCommerce is one of the leading open SaaS ecommerce platforms for mid-market and enterprise brands.
Shopify, like BigCommerce, is feature-rich, easy to use, and helps businesses get up and running quickly. Businesses that are totally new to ecommerce may choose to start with Shopify stores. The disadvantage of Shopify is that it can be difficult to scale. Shopify Plus requires a 3rd party app to achieve the 600 product variants that can be done on BigCommerce natively. With a built-in 3 option limit per product, merchants can’t scale on Shopify Plus.
3. Salesforce Commerce Cloud.
Salesforce Cloud Commerce, formerly Demandware, is a SaaS ecommerce platform provider preferred often by high-profile fashion retailers. The disadvantages of Salesforce Cloud Commerce are the high cost and the dependence on developers. The platform has a higher annual cost with a 3-5 year contract, and an implementation can easily cost upwards of $250K. Merchants face additional obstacles and costs if they choose a third-party over Salesforce’s add-on services.
3dcart is another SaaS ecommerce platform, though typically considered more of a minor player. Its advantages include multilingual support and advanced shipping solutions – no API required. Disadvantages include a lack of a CDN, resulting in poor site uptime during high traffic volumes for stores and difficult to reach customer service. They also lack modern responsive themes.
SaaS has come a long way since its first simple applications 20 years ago. Today, its increasing flexibility and openness lends itself to businesses building best-of-breed tech stacks instead of dropping into a software suite of already connected solutions.
This is giving businesses more freedom to run their back offices the way they want to — and the way that’s most effective for them.
When it comes to ecommerce, more and more merchants are realizing the benefits that come from a SaaS platform versus open source: lower total cost of ownership, regular software updates, ease of use, and platform security.
After much anticipation, Cyber Week 2020 has come and gone and one question remains: how does the pandemic year stand up to holiday seasons of the past?
Before we dive into the results, remember that Cyber Week consists of five key holiday shopping dates:
- U.S. Thanksgiving Day (November 26, 2020)
- Black Friday (November 27, 2020)
- Small Business Saturday (November 28, 2020)
- Super Sunday (November 29, 2020)
- Cyber Monday (November 30, 2020)
Heading into Cyber Week 2020, we knew we were in for a holiday shopping season unlike any before. Statista Research Group projects overall 2020 ecommerce holiday sales to reach $190.47 billion USD, and eMarketer recently increased their 2020 ecommerce retail sales forecast to 30% YoY growth.
This year, BigCommerce saw 100% performance uptime, marking the seventh consecutive year of zero reported site downtime during the peak holiday period. BigCommerce CEO, Brent Bellm, shares his thoughts on our Cyber Week 2020 results:
“This year, brands and retailers needed to grow spectacularly online to make up for unprecedented challenges offline. The success that BigCommerce merchants saw during Cyber Week reflects the quality of their ecommerce websites and the ever-expanding willingness of consumers to shift their spending online. 2020 will be the biggest year of ecommerce growth in history, by far. We are proud that BigCommerce plays an essential part in helping businesses provide engaging, reliable and secure digital sales experiences.”
BigCommerce’s Cyber Week data is based on a comparison of total platform sales that occurred between November 28-December 2, 2019 and November 26-30, 2020. It represents information from thousands of small, mid-sized and enterprise global retailers selling on the BigCommerce platform.
Without further ado, here’s our key data and insights from Cyber Week 2020.
1. Ecommerce sales soared YoY.
The predictions for increased ecommerce growth rang true this year with a 74% increase in GMV year-over-year (YoY), recorded by BigCommerce. While we’ve continued to see YoY Cyber Week growth over the years, the coronavirus pandemic had a significant impact on this year’s shopping.
In a report from SYKES, nearly 44% of consumers stated they won’t feel comfortable shopping in person until they feel the pandemic is under control in the country or their area. Plus, another 25% say they won’t be shopping in person until a vaccine is available. Ecommerce quickly became essential for many consumers around the world.
Despite the fiscal challenges consumers faced with the pandemic, average order value also jumped significantly, averaging $144 across the five key shopping dates — a 17% increase to the year prior.
Average order value (AOV) peaked at $164 on Cyber Monday and overall Cyber Week orders increased by 48% YoY.
2. Cyber Monday leads in GMV and AOV, while Black Friday continues to lead in orders.
The fifth and final day of Cyber Week takes the crown in total GMV (+64% YoY) and average order value — coming in at a whopping $164 USD this year, compared to $136 in 2019 — and Black Friday holds order share (+45% YoY), but that alone doesn’t convey the entire story. Many of the changing consumer behaviors we saw leading up to the holiday shopping week played into the results.
With global lockdowns in place due to the coronavirus pandemic, holiday gatherings and in-store shopping were limited, and consumers were prepared to tackle Cyber Week 2020 digitally. This means that they also had more time to scout out deals across the five-day shopping period. As a result, less popular shopping days like Super Sunday (+86%) and Thanksgiving (+84%) experienced the most YoY growth in GMV.
In addition, consumers were looking for more than great deals this year. There was increased interest in diversifying their shopping habits by shopping small. Ahead of Cyber Week, Klarna conducted a holiday survey that found 85% of consumers wanted to shop to support the economy. In turn, Small Business Saturday captured the second most YoY growth in orders placed.
1. Sporting Goods take the largest category share of Cyber Week 2020.
A big question leading up to Cyber Week 2020 was how the coronavirus pandemic would impact purchasing decisions. This year Sporting Goods purchases lead the pack and benefitted from 136% GMV growth YoY — and for good reason. With many consumers faced with lockdown measures, there are two options for exercise: engage in outdoor sports or purchase at-home gym equipment.
Other category leaders included Apparel and Accessories (+37% in GMV YoY), Automotive (+51% in GMV YoY), and Health & Beauty (+43% in GMV YoY).
2. Global pandemic continues to impact category performance.
Similar to what we saw this year with the Sporting Goods category, the global pandemic has had a ripple effect across many categories. Most importantly, this year’s Cyber Week purchases not only provide a current snapshot of consumer sentiment around the pandemic, but also how they foresee the near future. Here are two examples of this:
- Despite being down on four of the five shopping days, the Travel category managed to pull through with the most YoY growth on Black Friday (569%), resulting in 49% YoY growth overall — a telling sign consumers are looking forward to traveling again in 2021.
- Both Furniture and Office Supplies categories have significantly grown GMV YoY, following months of stay-at-home orders around the globe.
- More time at home means more time with and caring for pets. The Animal and Pet Supplies category grew immensely this year on Super Sunday by 42%.
While some categories have grown during the pandemic, previously popular Cyber Week categories took a hit, like CBD which was down 28% YoY despite still growing 82% on Small Business Saturday.
Devices and Channels
1. Smartphones continue to grow in overall device share.
For the past few years, we’ve continued to see an increase in mobile commerce and this year is no exception. While desktop still holds a majority share of orders at 49%, smartphones accounted for 43%. Desktop also holds the highest AOV of all devices at $159, compared to smartphones at $121.
Notably, we also see a year-over-year decrease in tablet orders (-18.8%) and sales (-10.25%) despite average order value increasing by 10.5%, reaching $125. This is the second consecutive year of the same trends, after tablets peaked in performance during Cyber Week 2018.
With mobile commerce on the rise, we decided to take a closer look at how smartphone purchases divvy up. This year, our data shows there’s a correlation between mobile devices and overall spend — specifically, mobile shopping on iPhones account for 106% more orders than Android. Plus, orders placed on iPhones showed a stronger AOV of $124, compared to Android at $114.
2. Amazon leads omnichannel purchases; social commerce is on the rise.
Across omnichannel purchases, Amazon remains a leading Cyber Week shopping destination for consumers. According to our data, Facebook saw a 123% increase in GMV and 98% increase in orders YoY, a sign of strength for social commerce in the future ecommerce landscape.
This comes after Facebook launched more social commerce tools like Shops and Checkout on Instagram preceding the holiday shopping season. These results are a positive signal that social commerce is just beginning its rise and serves as an innovative way for consumers of all demographics to shop online.
Based on this year’s results, we also found that Apparel & Accessories and Home & Garden categories performed better on Facebook, whereas Auto, Food & Beverage, Health & Beauty, Sports & Outdoors, and Toys & Games performed better on Amazon.
1. The U.S. remains the leading country for Cyber Week sales.
As an American coined holiday shopping weekend, it’s no surprise that the United States takes the cake for Cyber Week 2020. In fact, it was another record-setting year of Cyber Week with 67% growth in YoY GMV.
The beauty of ecommerce is that consumers can shop with brands outside of their local town. To end the year on a happy note, every state in America grew Cyber Week sales. Here are the states that had the most Cyber Week success*:
- New York
- New Jersey
*This represents Cyber Week sales of businesses based in these states, not where orders originated from.
2. Cyber Week continues to grow globally with Black Friday taking the lead.
Cyber Week success crossed the pond this year as the U.K. grew sales by a smashing 146% year over year — generating more sales than any other country outside of the United States. When looking at Cyber Week trends outside of the United States, we found Black Friday to be the key shopping holiday date.
With an increase in ecommerce sales during the global pandemic, we saw a boost of many countries joining the Cyber Weekend tradition. Here are the top ten countries by GMV:
- United States
- United Kingdom
- New Zealand
- Hong Kong
With Cyber Week 2020 complete, the results are clear: even during a global pandemic, holiday ecommerce sales continue to grow.
But the season isn’t over just yet, and we’re here to support our merchants through the remainder of the holidays and beyond. For last-minute holiday tips and tactics, be sure to check out the BigCommerce 2020 Guide to Holiday Planning.