Welcome to October! The month where all online sellers start to freak out in earnest. Chances are, you’re making a list and checking it twice… no, three times to make sure everything is ready for the onslaught of sales.
Here at Whitebox, we like to see the holiday stress as a good thing - at least, in theory. If you’re feeling a bit harried in the lead up to November, remember: it’s because your sales are about to go up! This is, of course, assuming you’ve done some groundwork to prepare.
This week, to keep your head in the game, we’ve got a few predictions for the 2017 Ecommerce season. We are trying to generate excitement, not stress. If your heart rate is already above 120 bpm, we suggest you take a moment to do some deep breathing exercises before you continue.
ONE: Hello, Cyber… November?!
Last year, a number of technology and business websites began throwing around a new term: Cyber or Black November. We all know how much everyone loves a snappy new title, but we think this one is pretty spot on. In fact, as Cyber Monday bleeds into Black Friday, which bleeds into Thanksgiving, which bleeds into the weeks leading up to these days… well, you get the picture!
What Cyber November really means is that the holidays are increasingly moving towards ecommerce. In fact, the holiday season is actually moving faster than the rest of the year: while ecommerce is still hovering below 9% of all sales throughout the year, Forrestor research reports that it makes up closer to 16% of all sales during the holidays!
Add to that Singles Day, or 11/11, which has become an international phenomenon. The 24 hour sale dominates the global markets; reports show Alibaba went from selling $3 billion worth of merchandise in 2012 to $17.8 billion in 2016. Cyber November, indeed.
TWO: The spectacular numbers for early 2017 may indicate big things for the holidays… but many are predicting light growth
According to numbers from the Census Bureau, ecommerce still makes up less than 9 percent of the total sales, but that’s changing, fast. While we don’t have an exact number, it’s possible it could be even bigger than reports that last year saw a 11% increase over the year before.
Overall 2017 is off to an excellent start for ecommerce - with numbers of the 2nd quarter seeing a 16.3 percent increase over last year (whereas 2016 saw only a 15.6 percent increase). We are pretty psyched about those numbers, since it could mean an absolutely stellar holiday season.
At the same time, we do want to acknowledge that many experts have predicted less growth this year than last year. One example is Netelixir, which uses data from many top retailers to project future growth. They predict 10% growth rates in the ecommerce realm, whereas last year saw it closer to 11%. The verdict? Only time will tell.
THREE: Small screens are getting bigger
Every year, more and more people shop on their phones. In fact, we have a whole blog post on the mobile explosion. Reports from ComScore show U.S. mobile sales for November and December increased from $11.8 billion to $17.1 billion last year, which indicates a 44 percent yoy increase.
Combine this with the fact that mobile made of 21% of the total ecommerce for Q4 2016, and it’s possible we’re going to see some big numbers. All the more reason to make sure your webstore is mobile friendly - and that you’re on the king of all ecommerce retailers - Amazon.
FOUR: Holiday Inventory matters more than ever
Each year, online sellers struggle to hit the inventory sweet spot. We've seen it before - in fact, we've been there before. It's tough to know exactly what your holiday sales will look like, since the holidays are so different from the rest of the year!
This year, hitting the right amount - not to much, not too little - will be especially important. Last year, Amazon instituted new storage fees, with the months of October through November seeing an increase in cost. The idea, of course, is to motivate you to keep your product moving. If you've got good inventory management practices, you should be absolutely fine.
At Whitebox, we’ve been preparing for the holiday season for months. We work hard to find the sweet spot for inventory levels and we love to talk to our clients about general strategies for a great holiday season. What does Whitebox do for our clients? Well, we do a lot. If you think of your holiday season as a big meal, we're basically hosting the dinner and cooking the food (fulfilling your ecommerce) - and letting you take care of the decorations (branding) and the invitations (marketing).
If that sounds good, there’s still time to chat with us about getting your online store set up through us for the holiday season. Unfortunately, it’s a small window - so if you're interested in taking a lot of the stress of the holidays off your plate, we suggest you reach out right away!