It might still be summer on the calendar, but the holiday shopping season is just around the corner. Are you ready?
The current pandemic is driving more and more shoppers online — with some consumers choosing to make purchases while on the go on their mobile phones, while others click “Buy Now” from the comfort of their at-home computers. But no matter how they’re coming to shop at your store, you need to be ready when they arrive.
When are they arriving? Here are the top shopping days you’ll want to mark on your calendar:
While it’s not your traditional shopping holiday, Labor Day in the United States (observed the first Monday of September) unofficially kicks off the holiday shopping season by offering enticing back-to-school deals on items like office and school supplies, clothing, and even appliances and mattresses.
China’s Singles’ Day (Nov. 11) once celebrated singles, but it’s now turned into the world’s biggest shopping day. The day targets all demographics and generated more than $38 billion in 2019 in just 24 hours.
Diwali, a traditional Hindu light festival, will be celebrated Nov. 14 this year and celebrates the triumph of light over darkness. The festival has also become a big shopping holiday, with merchants extending their open hours and offering discounts on gift items — including mobile phones, clothing, cars and even luxury jewelry.
El Buen Fin
Mexico celebrates “El Buen Fin” the third weekend of November every year — an annual sales event not unlike Black Friday in the United States. It kicks off Mexico’s holiday shopping season and offers the year’s best deals on everything — from clothing and appliances to electronics and toys.
Black Friday (United States/Canada)
While the day after Thanksgiving has long been known as the start to the holiday shopping season, it’s only been since the 60s that it’s been referred to as “Black Friday.” One theory for the name is that it’s the point in the year when retailers finally turned a profit. It was definitely a good day for e-commerce retailers in 2019, with $7.2 billion in digital sales (up from 14% in 2018). Black Friday madness has also spread north: According to the Retail Council of Canada, Black Friday has surpassed Boxing Day when it comes to Canadians hunting for a bargain.
Cyber Monday (United States/Canada)
The shopping sprees continue in the United States on the Monday after Thanksgiving. Retailers hit an all-time high of $9.4 billion in sales in 2019, with nearly a third of those purchases coming from smartphones.
Celebrated Dec. 26 in Great Britain, Canada and other ex-British countries, Boxing Day marks the end of the Christmas shopping season, but the shopping isn’t done yet! Shoppers here are spending newly received gift cards and bonuses on deeply discounted purchases, like Christmas merchandise, clothing, electronics and toys.
Cyber Monday (Russia)
Russia waits to celebrate Cyber Monday until the last Monday in January, and consumers find discounts on electronics and appliances from the more than 100 participating retailers.
Chinese New Year
The shopping season continues strong into February with the celebration of the Chinese New Year. In 2019, China’s Ministry of Commerce reported one-week revenues of more than $148 billion, with strong sales of gifts, food, electronics and specialty products.
Capitalizing on Holiday Sales
With critical dates on your calendar, now you’re ready to capitalize on all the shoppers who will be looking to make holiday purchases. Here are six things you should be doing now to optimize your e-commerce site and increase your holiday revenue.
1. Optimize for Mobile
Busy customers want to browse and buy quickly, so it’s important for each page in your store to load quickly. If it takes longer than three seconds, you risk customers moving on to another merchant to make their purchases. Category and product menus should be easy to navigate (even on a small screen), and your mobile checkout process should be easy and secure.
2. Secure Websites and Apps
Confirm you’re using the latest digital security solutions to protect you and your customers from fraudsters, like Secure Sockets Layer authentication and security providers like Verisign or 3-D Secure.
3. Use Verification Technology
Implementing verification technology can help identify fraud based on the physical and digital components of someone’s identity and even help merchants reduce their vulnerability to cybercriminals.
4. Clarify Shipping and Return Policies
Consumers like to know up front what shipping and returns will cost them. That makes now the perfect time to review your shipping and returns policies and making sure they’re up to date, easy to understand, and readily visible.
If you offer only one or two shipping options, consider expanding your shipping menu. Providing other shipping speeds from your current carriers (or adding new carriers) gives your customers more leeway in where and how purchases are delivered. But whatever shipping method you choose, make sure your customers can track their packages and you can access delivery records in the event of false item-not-delivered chargebacks.
5. Recognize the Signs of Account Takeover Fraud
Account takeover fraud occurs when a fraudster uses a piece of a victim’s identity to gain access to and take over a victim’s account. And once they have account access, fraudsters can compromise valuable (and lucrative) customer accounts. But if merchants know account takeover warning signs, they can stop suspicious transactions before they do damage.
6. Update Fraud Prevention Tools
Merchants may think they’re doing everything they can to protect their business from the devastating effects of fraud, chargebacks and false declines. But it’s still hard to separate the legitimate transactions from the fraudulent ones.
Before the holiday shopping season begins, consider hiring a fraud protection company with the resources and expertise to inspect every transaction to validate orders and eliminate fraudulent ones.
But finding the right provider can be hard. That’s why we created our free “Fraud Protection Buyers’ Guide” that details your options and outlines the questions to ask to find the solution that fits your needs. You’ll walk away with the right strategy in place to conquer the 2020 holiday shopping season and reduce the biggest threats to your business’s revenue.