The summer is now well and truly over, and most of us are already thinking about Halloween, Thanksgiving, and Christmas. For both consumers and eCommerce store owners, the end of the year is an exciting period full of opportunities.

Black Friday and Cyber Monday are still two of the most crucial business events for eCommerce businesses. Not to mention the pre-Christmas shopping frenzy, that is now happening increasingly more online as opposed to in-store.

But with so many challenges and uncertainties – including the energy crisis, rising interests and inflation, and the increased cost of living – will consumers continue to buy and spend money as you expect them to?

If you own or manage an online store, then this article is for you. Let’s jump right in by looking at what happened last year and learning how to leverage that knowledge to drive better and more profitable business decisions this year.

What Happened in 2021? A Deep-Dive into Last Year’s Trends

After the huge stall that most businesses around the world were forced to experience during the outbreak of the coronavirus pandemic in 2020, 2021 was, for many, a year that signaled a certain kind of renaissance. With physical shops re-opening, in-person shopping resumed, but this did not happen to the detriment of online purchase patterns.

Online shopping, in fact, continued to be one of the preferred ways for people to buy all kinds of items – from food to apparel, from electronics to beauty products, and more. So much so that, during the 2021 holiday season, online retail sales grew by 14.1% compared with the previous year.

The most popular event for shopping purposes? Without any doubt, it was Black Friday. On this day, it was estimated that around 88 million Americans shopped on the web, generating sales of approximately $8.9 billion.

Overall, between November and December 2021, holiday online sales increased by 5% year-on-year around the world. This figure alone stands as a stark reminder that the web continues to be a crucial place for people to shop and find great deals all throughout the year, but particularly during end-of-year sales and special events.

Now, if we look at the trends, figures, and statistics for last year, we may be able to craft fairly accurate projections for this fall and winter buying seasons. The aim? Ensuring more – and better – sales by maximizing the impact of your eCommerce store during some of the busiest and most promising times of the year.

Below are the top three trends that we identified, together with actionable tips on how to leverage those trends to increase the appeal, traffic, and sales of your online store.

Trend #1: the potential of impulse buys

One of the first trends that we can see from 2021 was impulse buys. This expression refers to those purchases that are a result of the so-called “spur of the moment” as opposed to the careful planning and longer waiting times of non-impulse buys.

In 2021, a whopping 60% of Black Friday purchases were impulse buys. What could this mean? Generally speaking, impulse buys have a strong psychological component.

Some of the key elements of impulse buying include a shopper’s emotions, self-control, and past experiences. Particularly post-pandemic, many consumers have revealed feeling a renewed sense of gratification, euphoria, and satisfaction through impulse buys that, in some cases, had the power to “turn their day around”.

Nonetheless, it’s also important to consider that planned purchases continue to represent a big portion of overall online buys. Online brands should keep this in mind when it comes to crafting a solid marketing strategy that creates leads and drives sales from all sides.

How your eCommerce store can capitalize on this trend

Strategy is the name of the game in this case. eCommerce store owners should strategize their marketing and sales activities around specific, recommended products, using some (or all) of the tips and tricks below:

  • Create and promote product bundles
  • Offer appealing discount codes and “buy-one-get-one-free” promotions
  • Include hard-to-resist offers if customers choose to add extra products to their shopping cart
  • Use marketing language that creates a sense of urgency to spur shoppers to initiate a purchase
  • Utilize email blasts referring to viewed products as well as products that were left in the shopping cart but not purchased.

Trend #2: no products available? Say goodbye.

Another major trend to come out of last year’s end-of-year sales includes stock availability. As it’s easy to imagine, shopping for a specific product and finding out that it’s currently not in stock can generate frustration and discontent in a customer.

But there’s even more. Online shoppers who discovered that their sought-after item was out of stock did not simply wait for it to get back in stock again (or buy another product). They swiftly moved to a different brand, where they knew that the same (or similar) product was available immediately.

Worryingly, this is not a behavior that only a handful of online shoppers have displayed. We are talking, in fact, of the majority of them – 69% on Black Friday and 74% on Cyber Monday. These percentages indicate the shoppers who moved to a competitor’s brand instead of feeling encouraged by the brand to discover more – and available – products.

In terms of product categories, it was noted that apparel was the most successful category at salvaging shoppers when they noticed that an item was out of stock. Around 62% of apparel online shoppers were lost, against a staggering 93% of those who came to buy consumer electronics products on Black Friday.

A very similar situation – despite some differences related to specific figures – occurred on Cyber Monday, too.

How your eCommerce store can capitalize on this trend

Well, the first and perhaps most obvious suggestion for all eCommerce store owners out there – though, in particular, those operating in the consumer electronics space – is to make sure that all your products are in stock before you open your Black Friday and Cyber Monday sales.

This should be even more important for products that were a hit during last year’s sales. Be sure, therefore, to dig deep into the data you collected in 2021, and make your 2022 decisions with that in mind.

In the event of a popular item being out of stock, you still have the opportunity not to lose an interested customer. Create real-time, personalized alternatives featuring similar products at similar prices. Use catchy pop-ups, interactive icons, and other elements that are clearly visible and that can engage your customers to stick around your eCommerce store and check out the other amazing items that you can offer them.

Trend #3: best-selling products (and most popular shopping days)

The third and last big trend from 2021’s end-of-year sales is about best-selling products and the most popular – and profitable – shopping days. In terms of products, these were the most sought-after items on Black Friday and Cyber Monday 2021:

  • Home improvement items
  • Consumer electronics
  • Apparel

Interestingly, there also seem to be specific days of the week when buying specific items is more common. For example, data from last year revealed that Monday is best for those looking to buy a new TV set; Wednesday works great if you want to purchase a new computer or laptop; Saturday is great for electronics and appliances, and Sunday is best for apparel and sporting goods.

Are you an eCommerce brand selling children’s toys? Last year’s highest sales of this product category were observed around Thanksgiving.

How your eCommerce store can capitalize on this trend

While it’s almost impossible to forecast exactly which product will be a best-seller during all the various end-of-year events in 2022, it’s important to note that some product categories remain constantly very popular throughout the year, and skyrocket in November and December.

These include consumer electronics, apparel, and furniture. Having said that, it’s vital that you build a marketing strategy that takes into account your target consumer, including considerations around their age, gender, socio-economic background, and, of course, previous purchase patterns.

The takeaway

The facts, figures, and trends of last year’s sales can really help in crafting a marketing strategy that boosts your end-of-year eCommerce store sales. In this article, we covered three of the major trends that emerged in 2021, and that might reoccur in the next few weeks and months.

Peak-season order fulfillment

One of the key factors of successful end-of-the-year sales is how you handle your eCommerce logistics and order fulfillment process. Delayed deliveries, wrong products, and poorly communicated delivery steps cost money. 

Many eCommerce businesses outsource their logistics and order fulfillment to be better prepared for seasonal demand and to be able to secure a reliable order fulfillment process even if in peak seasons. 

Check out OGOship's 3PL solutions for eCommerce businesses and discover what we can do to help you smash your end-of-year sales – and beyond.