The holiday season is the most hectic and lucrative time of the year for eCommerce businesses. In 2022, eCommerce holiday revenue reached a staggering $270 billion as consumers splurged on gifts and other items. This year, the expected revenue for the holiday season is projected to grow even further.
Early planning is vital for small businesses to capitalize on this surge in spending. By preparing ahead of time, you can gain a competitive advantage, address supply chain challenges, and optimize your website’s performance. Being well-prepared ensures they can meet customer demands, provide exceptional experiences, and maximize their share of the expected holiday revenue.
Early planning also enables you to:
- budget wisely,
- devise creative marketing strategies, and
- optimize their websites for high traffic.
In this blog, we’ll delve into why early planning for the 2023 holiday season is vital for you as a small eCommerce business and provide pointers for successful planning.
Let us start with a calendar for your convenience so that you do not miss any of the major holidays and big shopping days.
Table of Contents
Holiday Season Calendar 2023-24
Father’s Day: June 18th (Sunday)
Homecoming: The date for Homecoming varies depending on the school or university. Please refer to your specific school’s calendar for the exact date.
Independence Day: July 4th (Tuesday)
Back to School Day: The date may vary depending on the school district. Please refer to your local school district’s calendar for the specific date.
Labor Day: September 4th (Monday)
Columbus Day: October 9th (Monday)
Halloween: October 31st (Tuesday)
Veterans Day: November 11th (Saturday)
Thanksgiving Day: November 23rd (Thursday)
Black Friday: November 24th (Friday)
Cyber Monday: November 27th (Monday)
Green Monday: December 11th (Monday)
Super Saturday (Panic Saturday): December 23rd (Saturday)
Christmas Day: December 25th (Monday)
Boxing Day: December 26th (Tuesday) – observed in some states
New Year’s Day: January 1st (Monday)
Martin Luther King Jr. Day: January 15th (Monday)
Presidents’ Day: February 19th (Monday)
Easter Sunday: March 31st (Sunday)
Memorial Day: May 27th (Monday)
Early eCommerce Holiday Planning for eCommerce Success: Why it Matters
It is a significant factor that you must consider when planning for the holiday season. Consumers tend to spend more money on gifts and other items, increasing demand for eCommerce businesses. In 2021, eCommerce sales during the holiday season reached $207 billion, a 10% increase from the previous year, according to Adobe Analytics. By planning early, you can prepare for the increased demand by ensuring you have enough inventory to meet the needs of your customers. You can also consider hiring additional staff to handle the increase in orders and customer service inquiries.
Supply chain disruptions:
The last three years have shown us that life as we know it is unpredictable. And any human-made infra or facilities can be compromised one way or the other at any given point in time. Supply chains are no different. Disruptions in supply chains can lead to delays in the production and transportation of goods. By planning early, you can secure your inventory early, avoid stockouts, and mitigate the risk of shipping delays. In fact, a survey by the Institute for Supply Management found that 75% of companies faced longer lead times in 2020. This further helps you to explore alternative sourcing options and build relationships with multiple suppliers to ensure you have a reliable supply chain in place.
Competition is a crucial aspect that you should keep in mind, being a small eStore owner, when preparing for the holiday season. During this time, eCommerce businesses face stiff competition from each other in attracting customers and their spending. By planning ahead, you can create distinctive marketing tactics and set yourself apart from your competitors. Early planning also lets you analyze your competition and modify your strategies accordingly.
Setting a budget is of utmost importance, especially if you are working on a lean budget. Surprisingly, 82% of small businesses fail due to cash flow problems during peak shopping seasons. Early planning helps you to effectively allocate your resources by prioritizing investments in advertising and website optimization. With a well-planned budget in place, you can prevent overspending and burnout of resources.
During holiday seasons, customer service becomes even more critical as businesses must handle a surge in customer inquiries and complaints. 60% of customers have stopped doing business with a brand due to poor customer service experiences, as revealed by Microsoft. You have an opportunity to plan early, train and hire additional staff, implement chatbots, and develop strategies to handle customer inquiries and complaints promptly. This ensures that your customer service systems are robust and efficient, minimizing the risk of negative customer experiences.
Website performance and high traffic:
High website traffic during the holiday season can lead to slow loading times, crashes, and other technical issues that can negatively impact the user experience. Shockingly, 53% of users abandon a website that takes more than three seconds to load, as reported by Google. You must optimize your website for high traffic, test the performance, and identify and fix any issues before the holiday shopping spree starts. By optimizing your website’s performance, you can ensure that customers can easily navigate your online store, increasing the likelihood of a conversion.
Here are some additional numbers from the previous year that will give you a heads-up for the upcoming Holiday season 2023.
Noteworthy Statistics from Holiday Season 2022
As per 2022 statistics of the US eCommerce market during the busiest shopping season of the year:
E-commerce sales in the United States reached $1.03 trillion in 2022. This represents a 7.7% increase from 2021.
The top three categories for e-commerce sales in the United States were (source: Digital Commerce 360):
Apparel and accessories – 32.5%
Electronics and appliances – 24.1%
Home and garden – 15.8%
The most popular eCommerce marketplaces in the United States were (source: Statista):
Amazon – 49.1%
Walmart – 16.7%
eBay – 5.3%
The most popular payment methods for eCommerce in the United States were (source: Digital Commerce 360):
Credit cards – 63.5%
Debit cards – 26.4%
PayPal – 9.1%
The most popular shipping methods for eCommerce in the United States were (source: Digital Commerce 360):
Standard shipping – 55.3%
Free shipping – 33.7%
Two-day shipping – 10.9%
These statistics provide valuable insights into what consumers are buying, where they are buying from, and how they are paying. This information can be used to make informed decisions about inventory, marketing, and shipping in order to maximize sales and profits.
Here are some specific tips for you to rock the eCommerce holiday season 2023:
- Focus on the top three categories for e-commerce sales. This will help you to ensure that you are stocking the right products for the holiday season.
- Make sure your products are available on the most popular e-commerce marketplaces. This will help you to reach a wider audience.
- Accept the most popular payment methods. This will make it easy for customers to pay for their purchases.
- Offer free shipping or two-day shipping. This will help to attract customers and encourage them to make purchases.
The Perks of Planning Early for the Holiday Season:
Planning early for the holiday season can bring several benefits to small eCommerce businesses. By having a clear plan in place, you can focus on executing tasks efficiently and effectively without the need for frequent ad-hoc decisions or adjustments. This can also lead to a more positive working environment and better work-life balance for those involved in the holiday season preparations.
Moreover, planning early can provide you with the opportunity to test and refine your marketing strategies before the holiday rush. By experimenting with different campaigns and promotions, you can determine what works best and adjust your plans accordingly. This can also help you to identify and target new customer segments or explore new markets.
Finally, by having a clear understanding of your budget and sales targets, you can offer attractive discounts or bundles to incentivize customers to make a purchase. This will prove to be a differentiator for you and help you build customer loyalty, leading to repeat purchases in the future.
Planning ahead for the 2023 holiday season is a game-changer for small eCommerce businesses. By getting ready for potential supply chain issues, increased demand, budgeting, customer service, website performance, and competition, businesses can gain an edge and avoid last-minute stress.
In the future, the importance of early planning for eCommerce businesses will only continue to grow. As more consumers turn to online shopping, the competition will become even more fierce, and businesses will need to work harder to stand out from the crowd.
Therefore, businesses that prioritize planning and take a proactive approach to the upcoming holiday season will be better positioned to succeed in the ever-changing eCommerce landscape. It is crucial to remember that early planning is not only beneficial for the holiday season, but it can also help businesses stay ahead of the curve throughout the year. You can also leverage third-party associations, such as QeRetail, to help you take the journey toward a fruitful Holiday Season in 2023.
So, happy planning!