How the Lessons of 2020 Have Informed eCommerce for Holiday Peak Season 2021

By: Aaron Rubin, Founder & CEO of ShipHero

As much as you might wish to hold off discussing the holiday shopping season until the Halloween candy bowl is empty, as eCommerce retailers, you just don’t have that luxury. As evidenced by the sometimes crazy, always unpredictable season of holiday 2020, 2021 doesn’t appear to be any less wacky than its older sibling.

As an eCommerce retailer, you’ve probably struggled with this new post-pandemic norm, especially as it has seesawed between optimism (economically and otherwise) and despair. With the Delta variant inspiring statewide lockdowns once more, entering this high-volume season has come with additional questions, many that appear to already be answered.

Anxiety is only diminished by being prepared, so, let’s get prepared. Below are some of the key lessons eCommerce retailers, warehouse managers and fulfillment teams learned during 2020 and how ShipHero imagines they’ll be applied in 2021.

Start Shopping Early

The proliferation of online shopping 2020 made the novelty of historical mainstays, like Black Friday deals and Cyber Monday promotions, less enticing. Last year, many shoppers couldn’t even go to a store if they wanted to; in 2021, while that option may exist, all evidence suggests that online eCommerce, across categories and industries will remain strong. 

In 2020, eCommerce grew by over 32% year over year, and was up by 31% in Q1 2021, according to reporting by Digital Commerce 360. There is no evidence these numbers will be on the downswing anytime soon.

However, there is an indication that a trend that gained steam in 2020 will continue to expand in 2021, click and collect, otherwise known as buy online, pick up in store (BOPIS). The prevailing wisdom is that this allows shoppers to enjoy the instant gratification of shopping in-store without incurring the risk of contracting COVID (or standing in line, or fighting traffic or juggling a toddler, a stroller and a handful of shopping bags). 

Supply Chain Disruptions are Year-Round

While it was hoped that the delivery delays and empty shelves that were seen in 2020 (and 2021 if we’re being honest), would be a thing of the past, facts are that these types of disruptions will continue to affect the supply chain from manufacturing to distribution to retail for quite a while. Manufacturers have been unable to increase their output back to pre-pandemic levels and even if materials are ready to ship, there have been issues finding truck drivers (a chronic issue to be sure, but put into starker relief by the rise in demand for shipped goods). 

What does this really mean for eCommerce? It means that consumers will continue to push buy online pickup in store options to ensure that they can physically get the product they want in time for gift-giving or holiday entertaining.

Settle In – eCommerce is Here to Stay

There is no doubt that the one key takeaway from Holiday Season 2020 is that consumers will continue to consume, even if they can’t leave their homes. While the rise of eCommerce isn’t new, recent behavior indicates that a variety of shoppers, even those not typically known to shop online (i.e. older adults), have adopted the switch to eCommerce. While the most recent information shows growth for in-store sales, there is uncertainty regarding the Delta variant and how that might impact in-person sales going forward.

The moral of this story is retailers shouldn’t scrap their direct-to-consumer (DTC) fulfillment or eCommerce operations that were brought online throughout 2020. The EY Future Consumer Index released in May 2021, showed that 80% of consumers are changing the way they shop – including 43% who stated they now shop online more frequently for items they had previously purchased in-store.

More Lessons to Learn

As Holiday season 2021 truly takes shape we will no doubt see even more changes to how consumers shop, how eCommerce retailers meet their needs and how businesses are staying agile in order to better understand and satisfy their consumer base. 

ShipHero is excited to see what this holiday season brings and how we can better help our clients weather these sometimes disruptive, oftentimes invigorating situations. We look forward to working with our current partners and clients to help make Holiday 2021 better than ever, whether through solutions, support or superpowers. We will be posting helpful tips throughout peak season HERE, so be sure to check back frequently!

Schedule a meeting today with our experts to learn more about our WMS software built for ecommerce brands & 3PLs looking to run their best warehouse and how ShipHero works to ensure that organizations invest in the solutions that match their needs, to improve productivity, revenue, and success.

Click HERE to Schedule a Meeting Today

Aaron Rubin, Founder & CEO

About the author:  Aaron Rubin is the Founder & CEO of ShipHero. He is responsible for planning and executing the overall vision and strategy of the organization. Rubin’s greatest strengths are leadership, change management, strategic planning and a passion for progression. He is known for having his finger on the pulse of ShipHero’s major initiatives, his entrepreneurial spirit, and keen business acumen. His leadership of ShipHero is grounded in providing excellent customer service that drives improved business operations. His passion for ShipHero comes from the culture and his ability to have an impact on the lives of employees, customers, partners, and investors.

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