More people are doing their holiday shopping online and this trend is here to stay
Vice president. And principal analyst at forrester suture data could ali is a leading expert on ecommerce multichannel retail consumer behavior and trends in the online shopping space in her research. Sereda covers such consumer-oriented topics as e commerce forecasting in trends merchandising best practices conversion optimization and social computing in the retail world. Cerita joins us now to share her insights about this holiday retail shopping season. Welcome cerita thanks for having me rebecca. It's great to be here. We're really thrilled to have you. And we're excited that we can bring you and your insights in the information that you have to sellers. Help them anticipate what's happened this year. And what's up next for twenty twenty one after admit that. I definitely shopped early this year and pretty much everything online. Yeah yeah it's It's funny that you say that i that. A lot of retailers and merchants may have hoped that october would have been stronger. unfortunately many shoppers were still holding off and they continued to hold off and in spite of even all of the shipping delays all of the media reports about the challenges with shipping. I think that consumers are are still a little behind relative to where we would expect them to be at this point in in the holiday shopping cycle interesting so we know that ecommerce was essential throughout the pandemic and retailers. Small businesses had to quickly adapt. Can you tell us some of the top trends you've seen in the evolution of e commerce and online retail experiences this year. I think we're also really interested in what product line. Shoppers are buying online things that normally people would have gone to brick and mortar retailers. But they're now buying online warren of the biggest thing that we've of course seen is a shift to digital and in particular. I mean ebays been really great about being ahead of that curve and enabling a lot of the small local merchants with up and coming and a lot of the programs that have really been about supporting those local businesses because those companies have been the hardest hit and need to pivot the hardest and the fastest some of that of course is digital. Some of it is just enabling things like curbside pickup wherever possible digital payments. If you happen to have that physical infrastructure those are important. And that's been a big change in a big shift and i think that that's reflected in some of that cyber five data that we saw earlier is that the marketplaces have gained disproportionately. I think part of that has been because the consumer expects choice and they do expect the selection when they can't find it elsewhere. That's what's top of mind. It's been top of mind for a while and it's certainly top of mind during the pandemic as well as far as categories are concerned electronics. And some of those categories about keeping families busy other categories. That i would say that. We're seeing certainly anything that supports warmth. Fleece is doing very well right now. We're seeing socks and pj's and anything that is about comfort like blankets doing well. Anything that's outdoor. do it yourself home. We're still seeing things like heat. Lamps and fire pits being sold out and we still see huge uptake on anything. That's workout related. So exercise related. You know leggings at home exercise equipment. So from a subcategory standpoint. Those are some of the small trance to interesting. I know i bought a table. Top patio heater this year. Myself good for you. Hopefully you got it ahead of the sellouts. I did never mind the toilet paper. Bring us heaters rate right so this year there has been really noticeable change in shopper behavior. Let's talk about some of those behavioral changes like mobile payments or shopping or are people at home with their desktops and shopping more on desktop. Maybe they're on their phones. Tell us more about that. Yeah we see a tremendous amount of multi device usage within households. So what that means is you will have like you know the people who are on their zoom calls like shopping on the side you know. But they're not shopping necessarily on the desktop. It's on an ipad or it's on a on a phone on the side so there's definitely a lot of pre shopping a lot of inventory checking or a lot of investigating who they're going to kind of consider in the course of that transaction that's definitely A big part of that experience now see just want to be conscious as a seller of things like making sure that the imagery that you portray is going to be reflected well on different device sizes and we are seeing a lot of Video customer service calls to so just responding quickly to questions that consumers may have. That's an expectation of customers. We've seen video certainly provide Greater boosts to conversion whenever we see that offered it's essentially an extension of imagery so and we know that the more images you share that more likely that there is to be a sale ultimately that's a great reminder and it certainly reflects what we see here at ebay as well for holiday for many people. It's actually about those post holiday sales that they get excited about whether you're a buyer seller that last week of the year can be a big deal. Can you tell us what to anticipate this year with those post holiday sales and what to look forward to i think the pandemic essentially forced a lot of companies to cut their orders pretty early. And they didn't go back and revisit cancellations and what you had as a result is even through thanksgiving weekend you add less compelling offers like to merchant than you did in the past. It was completely common in the past that you would on a cyber monday. Have forty percent off of everything on a website plus free shipping and that was far less common. This year was more likely that you would have thirty percent off of select items with a shipping threshold. It just the richness of those offers was substantially less than in years past and part of the reason for that is that there just wasn't as much inventory that retailers had to discount. And they're trying to make that inventory that they have last as long as possible. What that potentially means is that there's not going to be as much in the way of sales post-holiday and that could be to the advantage of ebay sellers and the reason for that is that if there's less competition out there that's a good thing for you because you would be able to jump on the consumers that are expecting sales or offers and they're not finding them you wanna be able to take advantage of that if possible. I mean people will buy after christmas if there are sales it's entirely promotional driven like that's sort of the big driver of that between christmas and new year's rush whether it's e commerce or in stores it's what's on sale. What can i get. That didn't get sold already. That i may be able to take advantage of and if there isn't going to be much of that and we don't expect as much this year if you have anything access you know take advantage of that timeframe promoted you know in really kind of jump on anything you can get your hands on right. It's a good time to move some of that inventory. That's been hanging around for a lot of the year. So i hear that online shopping and cova shopping habits are likely to continue post pandemic in throughout the year. What are those predictions. You're looking for in the year to come. The single biggest challenge i think is just the amount of internet research that has been happening and certainly the pandemic has accelerated in every product category. And where that makes a difference for sellers is that your ability to show up and be present when consumers are in that search process because if their first touch point is digital you know in in the past maybe their first touch point was walmart stores. It just gives you more of an opportunity to be apparent in the course of that chopping funnel for all kinds of different categories that you may not have been considered for in the past. So that's definitely just something that's a subtle change but it's an important one because it gives small merchants so much more opportunity than what they had in the past. We also expect to see more distributed commerce. It's been a term that's been around for a long time but the idea of you know. Kind of completing transactions on social networks or completing transactions offer merchants site or enabling. Things like shop -able video that will be ways for emergent to connect directly to their audience. Like these are all things that we expect to continue to see. They have a tremendous amount of potential. I think a lot of the playbook in the us is still being shaped informed but we've known for decades that businesses like qvc nhl. San are incredibly powerful and incredibly lucrative and they resonate with so many people. There issues have always been that. You know it's a medium which is highly dependent on television. Adjacency is in how low the channel number was what they were next to so people would just happen to stumble upon up there can network and stop and watch it. And what's different in really powerful about chargeable video is there's a live component which takes elements of that experience. But there's also the ability to have an on demand experience to and and that expands the universe of of who can be exposed to and who can be seduced by kind of great selling so that's really some of the the big change that we expect through twenty twenty one especially if there is less of an opportunity to sell in the physical store. There's not the ability to touch and feel merchandise physical environment if we have more lockdowns In the coming months hopefully we won't because we'll be able to get vaccines but if things even get harder or in the next few months something to offset that can be more video selling interesting.