How Can Brands and Retailers Prepare for the 2021 Holiday Season?

The holidays aren’t yet top of mind for most consumers, but brands and retailers know that planning for these make-or-break moments starts now.  

Much like last year, this holiday season is sure to look unlike any other. People are eager to return to tradition in a big way—but at the same time, Covid-19 irreversibly changed the way people discover, shop and buy. Brands and retailers of all sizes will be challenged to capture pent-up demand and adapt to new ways of serving customers.  

So, what can we learn from the 2020 holiday season as we plan for 2021? To make the most of this critical time, here are three trends with growth potential to consider.

1. An extended, ecommerce-driven season 

In-store, supply chain and logistical uncertainties prompted retailers to kick off 2020 holiday efforts earlier than ever with online deals and promotions last October.  

Nearly half of shoppers we surveyed also started holiday shopping before—and often in place of—in-store doorbusters on Black Friday. This continued through the end of the year, especially online, driving a dramatic 47% increase in ecommerce sales during the traditional holiday season. 

Many of those transactions happened on mobile. For example, Adobe found that over half of digital Christmas revenue in 2020 came from smartphones.  

We expect to see more digital acceleration with another extended, ecommerce-driven holiday shopping season in 2021. Pent-up demand may result in even earlier activity, so brands should start connecting with both loyal and new customers across digital and mobile channels now.

2. The roles of stores and digital are reversing

With less ability to browse in person last year, we saw in-store shopping become more intent-based and transactional. For many, online/offline hybrid solutions like curbside pickup and buy online pick up in store (BOPUS) redefined expectations for convenience. 

Conversely, digital shopping has become more immersive with people looking to mimic much of the in-store experience at home. Think styling and how-to videos, live fashion shows, augmented reality try-ons, messaging with sales associates, and personalized recommendations.

In this new hybrid reality, it’s essential now to create convenient, frictionless, omnichannel offerings that bring the store experience online and the digital experience to stores.

3. People are discovering and purchasing on social more than ever

Half of all shoppers we polled experience some difficulty knowing what to buy for others, highlighting the need for discovery aides—especially during the holidays. Of those who discovered something online last season, 45% of shoppers said it was a gift for someone.

The concept of online discovery is not new, but the way it happens is changing. Many are turning to social apps, specifically, for personalized inspiration and curated recommendations. Nearly eight in 10 consumers we surveyed said they used at least one Facebook app or service for discovery last holiday season.  

More people are purchasing on social apps as well. Grand View Research estimated that social commerce represented 11% of global retail ecommerce revenue in 2020, generating $474 billion. 

Tap into discovery

Facebook and Instagram are built for social commerce—or as we like to call it, “Discovery Commerce.” You know, that serendipitous feeling when you discover a compelling product, service or brand on social media that you may or may not have been looking for. Or maybe didn’t even know existed? It sparks an interest, and you feel compelled to learn more or compels you to even purchase it spontaneously.  

With Discovery Commerce, products find people so people can discover the things they are most likely to love. It enables businesses to go one step further than they can with any other marketing: not just meeting customers’ needs but anticipating them. And discovery happens more on our apps during the holiday season than during any other period.

To help your products find the right people during peak shopping moments, check out our holiday resources on Facebook for Business.