One in three e-commerce brands are electing to forego peak season campaigns this year – a staggering change from last year when the proportion stood at just 6%. This comes despite 34% of consumers planning to up their spend this year. The chasm between e-commerce marketers’ predictions and consumer intent is widening just as the all-important Black Friday, Cyber Week and Christmas sales period gets underway.
What do e-commerce brands’ media plans look like?
The findings are contained in “Peak Season 2020: predicting e-commerce patterns” by Yieldify and are based on responses from 400 US and UK e-commerce leaders and 2,000 consumers throughout August.
It shows that e-commerce leaders are predominantly pessimistic about their prospects this holiday season, with just 45% expecting to outperform 2019 – a sobering contrast to last year when the equivalent figure stood at 90%.
At the root of this despondency is a fear that tent pole retail events, such as Black Friday, Cyber Week and Christmas itself, could end up being damp squibs.
Asked why they were voting with their feet, 25% cited suppressed consumer demand, with increased competition another popular excuse – despite both issues being largely contradicted elsewhere in the same report.
This is interpreted as some e-commerce firms being ’over conservative’ as evidenced by differing perceptions of Black Friday, with 23% of e-commerce leaders concerned that the holiday is interpreted as a marketing stunt versus just 3% of the general population.
Feelings of trepidation translates to real-world actions, with the proportion offering discounts shrinking from 70% last year to just 41% this year and the most common discount level also dropping from the 21-30% range to just 11-20%.
This air of caution extends to the planning cycle, with just 40% of e-commerce companies initiating peak season planning in September – a fall from 70% last year.
But what do consumers want?
This fear isn’t backed up by reports on consumer sentiment, however, where a mere 18% intend to tighten the purse strings. In contrast, the proportion of shoppers spending mostly or only online is expected to rise by 8%.
Far from being a blip, Covid-19 induced changes to consumer behaviour are here to stay, with 52% planning to remain loyal to newly discovered platforms.
Perhaps surprisingly, 34% of shoppers actually intend to up their peak season spend this year, perhaps presenting an opportunity for marketers who hold their nerve.
Making just such a point, Waleed Al-Atraqchi, chief executive officer at Yieldify, commented: “This report shows that this disruption could present a golden advantage for the e-commerce leaders who ‘opt-in’ to peak season activities.“
Al-Atraqchi adds: “Consumer appetite is bigger than ever and the competition for this demand may be quieter than this year: with tactics such as strong personalization in place, the potential rewards are huge.”