The countdown to mega sales season is on and this year’s festival of ecommerce is more important for businesses than ever before. Facebook’s Industry Head of Digital Disruptors, Henry Kelly, explains why it’s time to prepare your online infrastructure for November and December’s shopping spree.
I had a strange realisation the other day. It dawned on me that I hadn’t been into a shop for months. That is, except to buy groceries and essentials.
A lot of this behaviour is of course to do with coronavirus and exercising a bit of extra caution in public places. It’s a mentality that is increasingly widespread as we’re now collectively replacing the in-store experience for an online one when we shop. In NSW (where I am based), 40% of those surveyed by Kantar in August said they were avoiding superstores and big malls - this number is even higher at 55% in Victoria*.
It’s not just me and other digital natives changing their habits either - it’s people of all ages all over the country. In fact, one in four adults aged 65 and older in Australia say they’re ordering products online that they would have normally purchased in a store^.
It’s a sign of how far we’ve come in such a short time. The sharp increase in online sales is perhaps the most striking example of how quickly modern commerce is changing.
But this isn’t a nostalgia or COVID-19 piece. I’m here to talk about opportunity and the strategic steps you can take to leverage the crucial mega sales period.
A few weeks ago I was on a Future Now panel with IAB CEO Gai Le Roy and Quad Lock founder Rob Ward, where a key theme we discussed was preparedness. In particular the notion that those who are best prepared for the changing digital landscape will be most successful.
There are very compelling reasons for businesses to get their house in order now. In April, for example, NAB revealed online sales had jumped 58.5% year-on-year in Australia. By July that had rocketed to 62.6%. Those are dizzying numbers.
Purchasing products online is becoming an ingrained habit for many of us and it doesn’t look like slowing down anytime soon.
Indeed, even before anyone had so much as uttered the word “coronavirus”, back in late 2019 the growth of mega sales in Australia was spurring retail figures to new heights. According to Roy Morgan research, the popularity of shopping events like Black Friday and Cyber Monday saw Christmas retail sales jump 3.3% in November and 2.7% in December.
This year retailers are likely to see a significant confluence of events: supercharged consumer desire to purchase online meeting a growing awareness of mega sales.
To this we can also add a likely surge in deferred discretionary buying - some 64% of people in Australia surveyed by data specialists GWI in April stated they were delaying a luxury purchase and waiting for a sale to buy**.
What does all this tell us? In a nutshell we can expect a lot of ecommerce activity in the lead up to Christmas this year.
As the head of a business division focusing on disruption, you’d probably now be expecting me to advocate for bold new product launches and insurgent tactics to capitalise on this sentiment.
But while those things certainly have their place, right now the message I want to pass on is quite different and much less revolutionary. It’s simply this: plan thoroughly for the next few months. And ensure your digital storefront is spotless and functioning as seamlessly as possible.
In the weeks leading up to Singles Day (November 11), followed by Black Friday (November 27) and Cyber Monday (November 30), it’s more important than ever to ensure your product offering is teased in a highly visible manner. Video ads, in-stream ads and Stories are among the best ways to get people interested in products before the key sales, and in the lead up to Christmas.
There’s evidence aplenty that attests to the success of those that have got their digital strategy right, even before circumstances called for it earlier this year. Online retailer Kogan, for example, has seen its share price nearly quadruple since April, as it provided the solution for people looking for big ticket items, but physically constrained by lockdowns.
Many other well equipped businesses have also seen steepling growth through an innovative approach to advertising.
Formulated milk powder brand Friso, meanwhile, partnered with ecommerce platform Lazada on a Facebook Collaborative Ad campaign, increasing online sales during the Singles’ Day period and seeing an 11X return on ad spend among new customers.
Another consideration is that the global calendar of tentpole sales days also presents a cross border growth opportunity to businesses. With the increasing embrace of online purchasing, it’s the perfect time for Australian businesses to take a closer look at selling into overseas markets.
Let me leave you with this: 2020 has understandably been a year of austerity for both individuals and businesses, but people still want to treat themselves and their nearest and dearest to something nice. There will certainly be a widespread desire to make the most of the Christmas holiday period this year.
So if your business produces the kind of products that will bring that little bit of joy over the festive season, then now’s the time to cast a digital lens over your offering. Ecommerce has been one of the few big successes of 2020, so prepare well, give something and you may well get something nice back in return.
You can download Facebook’s Mega Sales Planner for 2020 here.
*Source: Kantar Global Barometer, 500 respondents, Australia, 14-18 August 2020
^Industry Micro-Shifts Monthly Tracker by Kantar Profiles (FB commissioned online survey of general population respondents ages 18+ (N=6014 cross 3 waves fielded 5/28/20-8/15/20, AU)). Exact fielding dates by wave in AU - Wave 1 (5/28/20-6/15/20), Wave 2 (6/28/20-7/15/20), Wave 3 (7/28/20-8/15/20)
**Coronavirus Research by GWI, Australia, 1073 respondents aged 16-64, April 22 - 27 2020. Question: “Thinking about these delayed purchases, what do you think you will do?” Base 163
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