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Marilyn Bunderson

5 Tips for a Great Holiday Shopping Season

by Marilyn Bunderson
two women looking at tablet

The holiday shopping season began early this year. As a retailer, that means you may have already seen a little more activity than usual. Financial data and patterns gave us some warning that shoppers would be invested in a bit of early holiday shopping this year, so hopefully, you had some advance warning.

Why the early holiday shopping season in 2022?

According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, the consumer price index (CPI) experienced the largest increase in forty years this summer, reaching 9.1% in June. Though not as high as in June, the CPI hit 8.2% in September, and that high inflation is taking a toll on consumer spending. Shoppers are finding it necessary to spend more to get less, and they're feeling the pinch.

In an effort to spread out their spending over more paychecks, in-store and online shoppers have embraced early shopping this year. September saw a 7.1% rise in retail sales over last year's numbers, according to Retail Dive, and ecommerce numbers fared even better with an 11.5% increase in sales. October's numbers rose 5.7% in retail stores and 12% for ecommerce compared to last year's numbers.

A deeper dive into annual retail sales numbers over the past three years shows a consistent pattern with a strong uptick in November and December. Analysts expect a 6% to 8% increase in holiday spending this year over last year. That's a bit short of 2021's 13.2%, but still a healthy increase.

Monthly Retail Sales chart

This is good news, but the sales curve could look slightly different this year. Here's what we've learned: Holiday shoppers are being a bit more careful with their money than they have in the last couple of years. They're still willing to purchase gifts for their loved ones - and maybe even a few for themselves - but they're looking to increase the bang for their buck as much as possible.

You need those consumers with money to spend to buy your products, but it's pretty competitive out there this year. How do you get the traffic headed in your direction? We've done the research for you and put together five tips to maximize your revenue and make your 2022 holiday shopping season amazing.

5 ways to capture holiday shopping traffic

Get ready to work harder for sales this year

Holiday shoppers are ready and willing to make purchases this year and spend their hard-earned money, but inflation has made them a bit more cautious than they were in 2021. A recent Salesforce survey found that 51% of consumers plan to buy fewer gifts this year than last.

Winning customers may be a bit more competitive this year. With online shopping on the rise, your competition is nationwide. You need to be able to attract new customers, convince them to purchase from your store or website, and keep them coming back for more. You'll need to work a bit harder to earn each sale by increasing your marketing spend, layering in promotional sales, and targeting the right audience.

You also need to work to make sure your profit margins are as high as possible. That means minimizing returns, enticing shoppers to buy beyond the doorbuster, and shipping as efficiently as possible.

Take your shipping to the next level

Shipping can make or break your holiday shopping season. Consumers are looking for free shipping - or at least inexpensive shipping - and they want to receive their packages on time and undamaged. Delays, lost packages, damaged goods, and high shipping costs have far-reaching consequences.

A good shipping API will take the headache out of shipping. An excellent solution will maximize your profits and keep things running smoothly. Our Shipping API is the most reliable in the industry with 99.98% uptime. You'll see quite a few other benefits as well:

Get discounted rates with carriers

You should not be paying standard shipping rates. Our customers get up to 83% instant discounted shipping rates with no contracts, no fees, and no volume minimums. Our pre-negotiated rates mean you'll be able to send packages at a fraction of the cost. In addition, multi-carrier access through our API means you can rate shop to get the best shipping rates available.

Access 100+ carriers with a single integration

Speaking of multi-carrier access, diversifying carriers is the best way to get your parcels delivered on time at the cheapest possible rate. Larger carriers operate at maximum capacity during peak season, and a good solution is to use regional carriers for last-mile delivery. Regional carriers can be more agile than large carriers, responding quickly as issues arise and improving on-time delivery.

Optimize your carrier mix

Implementing our SmartRate API takes only 15 minutes, and with the API in place, you'll receive data-backed transit time statistics. The information can be used to plug transit time estimates into checkout pages and to make data-driven decisions when selecting which carrier services to ship with. You'll know which carriers will get your packages delivered on time for less money.

Reduce mis-shipments

Our address verification confirms the accuracy of domestic and international addresses to improve deliverability. Paired with shipment tracking updates through custom branded tracking pages and webhook notifications, you can reduce your mis-shipments and keep your customers happy.

Create your own labels

Imagine the time you'll save by creating your own USPS, FedEx, UPS, or other carrier labels from your home or office. You can create the labels you need individually or in bulk, and you can even automate the process by integrating our API directly into your ecommerce store or website.

Optimizing your shipping with our API will streamline your processes, reduce your workload, and save you money. When it takes more work to get customers to make a purchase, and you're facing shrinking profit margins, you need to make sure your shipping setup is saving you money rather than draining your resources.

Tempt shoppers with sales and promotions

Two people shopping on black friday

Shoppers are relying on holiday sales and promotions this year, thanks to inflation, so they can stretch their dollar to its fullest potential. The cost of living has gone up dramatically in the last few months, and consumers are spending more of their budget on food and other necessities. Under these conditions, a great sale can make all the difference.

The biggest shopping days of the year are Black Friday and Cyber Monday. In 2021, nearly 155 million people shopped online or in stores on Black Friday. Cyber Monday alone drew 77 million online shoppers. The Adobe 2021 Holiday Shopping report shared that online shoppers spent $8.9 billion on Black Friday and $10.7 billion on Cyber Monday. Adobe forecasts that Cyber Monday will continue as the biggest online shopping day of the year, with an estimated $11.2 billion in revenue.

According to the National Retail Federation, 58% of holiday shoppers said that Black Friday deals are more important this year than last. Make sure you're ready with some siren-call doorbusters consumers can't help but be drawn to. While you're at it, offer an excellent shopping experience and good prices on other products so they can't resist filling their cart with additional items.

As you plan for a strong Black Friday, don't neglect the rest of the shopping season. Offer early-bird sales to tap into this year's early holiday shopping trends. In addition, it wouldn't hurt to hold a little something up your sleeve for after the Black Friday/Cyber Monday shop fest. December shoppers will still be drawn in by an excellent deal.

Offer lower-priced items

One of the trends this year is consumers buying less expensive alternatives to stretch their spending power, according to research conducted by Morning Consult. They're letting go of owning luxury items with high price tags and instead are opting for similar items that cost less. You can snag those shoppers looking for reliable alternatives by offering similar lower-priced items. Just make sure the alternatives you offer will maintain your high quality standard so you can retain their well-earned trust in your brand.

Build trust and confidence in your website

It's one thing to walk into a store, pick up an item, and lay down your money for it. It takes a bit more trust to make a purchase from a website when you can't handle the product beforehand. Amazon has done an admirable job building shoppers' trust. Smaller ecommerce businesses need to approach the issue from a different angle, like a shopping guarantee.

Norton Shopping Guarantee empowers online retailers to offer shopper protection on par with Amazon, leveling the playing field when it comes to buyer confidence. When ecommerce websites add the Norton Shopping Guarantee, they see increased conversion rates as well as decreased chargebacks and negative reviews.

The Norton Shopping Guarantee includes $10,000 of identity theft protection, a $1,000 purchase guarantee, and a $100 lowest price guarantee. Shoppers who see the Norton Shopping Guarantee trustmarks on a website have the confidence to click “buy now.”

Increase your profit margins

We've outlined steps that will increase your profit margins with optimized shipping, help you attract new customers, and make sure your website builds trust. They may seem like small adjustments, but a small course change now will make a significant impact on where you end up.

Learn more about how EasyPost can simplify your shipping logistic process by scheduling an appointment with one of our shipping experts today.