Voice of the Industry

What ecommerce companies need to do for the 2021 holiday season

Wednesday 20 October 2021 08:19 CET | Editor: Andra Constantinovici | Voice of the industry

James Booth, VP Head of Partnerships (EMEA) at PPRO makes a solid case for ecommerce merchants being wary of brick-and-mortar being back in force this holiday season and offers some insightful tips

The boom in ecommerce has been one of the big stories for the last two years. Global ecommerce volumes grew by an astonishing 26% in 2020. In markets worldwide, consumers are spending more online, buying new categories and trying new merchants. 

But does that mean that ecommerce merchants can simply sit back during the upcoming festive shopping season and wait for the pennies to come rolling in? There are signs that this could be a very risky strategy.

In 2021, ecommerce growth rates dropped from 26% to just 17%. By summer 2021, major ecommerce vendors, such as Amazon, were reporting slowing growth rates thanks to the re-opening of brick-and-mortar stores. 

And that’s not all. There are also signs that online merchants are competing not just with the goods and promotions available in town centres, but also with experiences. As the UK came out of lockdown, online sales dipped because people were choosing to spend their money on dining out instead.

It’s not unrealistic to expect a similar effect during our first (more or less) post-pandemic festive shopping season. Whether it’s Americans rushing to get a Black Friday bargain, Europeans drawn by the bright lights of the Christmas market, or Chinese shoppers opting for real, as opposed to virtual, red envelopes, merchants should take competition from brick-and-mortar stores seriously in 2021. 

So how can online merchants, and the service providers who work with them, prepare for the coming festive shopping season? Here are our top five tips.

1. Make online shopping at your store an experience

To compete with the bright lights, sights, and sounds of the festive mall or town centre, you need to make online shopping at your store an exciting experience. This might include the adoption of augmented reality (AR) and other experiential techniques. Or you could take a tip from the Chinese market and use livestreaming shopping or other forms of “retailtainment” to add fun and excitement to the shopping experience. 

2. Be the answer to shortages and price volatility 

The container-shipping crunch has caused retailers across the world to warn of a shortage of goods over this year’s festive shopping period. Consumers are already showing signs of trying to beat the squeeze with so-called panic buying. If you know you will have stocks of a coveted item, consider offering it at a guaranteed price if shoppers commit to buying a certain volume of goods now. And be sure to get their opt-in to send them targeted promotions across the festive shopping season. 

3. Promote, promote, and promote again

With the economic outlook still uncertain, inflation beginning to bite, and the pandemic not yet completely beaten, shoppers still aren’t as confident about spending as they could be. Eye-catching, broad-based promotions, combined with targeted offers further along the sales pipeline, are a good way to offer these cost-conscious consumers a reason to stick with you over the festive shopping period. This is particularly relevant, as ecommerce has a reputation for being able to offer better bargains than other channels — it’s time for us to make full use of that. 

4. Go big on delivery and returns

People might love the idea of bright lights, street stalls, festive markets, and seasonal street food. But many will be less keen on crowded places, packed public transport, and the hassle of lugging home their festive gifts. Now is the time to convey the convenience and ease of shopping online, offering deliveries whenever the consumer wants them, and if necessary, making returns easy. 

5. Offer the preferred local payment methods for each market

Payment preferences diverge widely from market to market. And if you don’t offer the right payment method, your customers will bounce before they buy. Indeed, if shoppers can’t find the payment method they prefer, you could see abandonment rates as high as 80%, according to PPRO research.

In our latest guide, we outline what online businesses need to do to boost checkout conversions. The guide is available for download here

About James Booth

James Booth has over ten years of experience in the financial sector, eight of those in fintech. In his current role as VP, Head of Partnerships for EMEA, he leads the new business and partner development teams in managing PPRO’s new and existing strategic partnerships. In addition to helping PPRO partners grow their business, he acts as PPRO’s internal advocate for aligning the company’s product roadmap with the needs of its customers. James has been actively involved in various projects during his tenure at PPRO, including establishing PPRO’s presence in North America and managing the development of the PPRO Partner Portal.


About PPRO

PPRO is a fintech company that globalises payment platforms for businesses, allowing them to offer more choice at the checkout and boost cross-border sales. Payment service providers, enterprises, and banks that run on PPRO's infrastructure are able to launch payment methods faster, optimise checkout conversions, and reduce the complexities of managing multiple fund flows. 

Citi, PayPal, and Stripe are just some of the names that depend on PPRO to expand their platforms beyond borders. In 2020 alone, the company processed €8.84 billion for its partners. And with a growing global team of over 400 people, it’s no wonder why they’re considered the go-to local payments experts

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Keywords: PPRO, ecommerce, merchant, online shopping, marketplace
Categories: Payments & Commerce
Countries: Europe
This article is part of category

Payments & Commerce