It’s beginning to look a lot like Christmas – or at least, a new version of Christmas that we are slowly adjusting to.

With the global pandemic rendering many of our most loved and cherished yuletide traditions obsolete in 2020, we all looked forward to regaining that sense of festive familiarity in the coming year. Fast forward 12 months, and most societies the world over are in a similar position, with restrictions, lockdowns and fear of putting loved ones at risk overshadowing what should be the most wonderful time of the year.

And it’s not just festive rituals that have been altered to fit into the new normal. We have also largely adjusted our shopping patterns during this period to protect our safety, to guarantee value for money, and to ensure our consumer demands are met.

Changes in consumer habits

With a reported 42 percent of consumers now shopping online as a direct result of the pandemic, it’s no surprise that this is reflected heavily in statistical studies ahead of Christmas 2021.

A recent survey carried out by Iterable, involving 1,500 shoppers across the UK and US, found that between 84 and 86 percent of shoppers plan on doing at least half of their Christmas shopping online this year.

The survey also showed that consumers are leaning towards value-driven purchases, with 29 percent of UK respondents citing a transparent and trusting brand tone as a priority, while 76 percent revealed that they are more likely to purchase from a brand they have an emotional connection to.

Retailers will also be interested to learn that in comparison to 2020, consumers are planning to go the extra mile when splashing the cash this year. According to a Christmas-focused research report by Tesco Ireland, one in five adults plan on spending more on gifts in 2021 than in the previous year.

And while shoppers are happy to loosen the purse strings a little in 2021, their decision to purchase from a brand will often boil down to speed of service. Case in point, a substantial 50 percent of consumers that took part in a recent survey admitted that prompt and efficient delivery was more important to them than free or discounted shipping costs.

These statistics provide an interesting outline of the seasonal forecast for ecommerce retailers, but to fully understand what will win over consumers in this crowded market, let’s delve deeper into the key market trends and changes in consumer sentiment for Christmas 2021.

The early bird catches the customer

Getting ahead of the game is a huge priority for both retailers and shoppers in 2021, which is no surprise considering a supply chain crisis has been thrown into the existing mix of pandemic uncertainty and seasonal delays.

Aside from the draw of Black Friday deals and pre-Christmas sales, consumers are eager to bag their gifts well in advance of the big day to allow for longer delivery times and potential stock shortages.

What this translates to in retailer terms, is that preparation is key.

From ensuring high levels of inventory and offering personalised elements to your service, to upping your marketing game several weeks before Christmas comes around, it’s integral that ecommerce businesses are ready and able to deal with the pressures that this period of high demand brings. With so many distractions for shoppers in this noisy market, you can stand out from the crowd by giving them what they want, when they go in search of it. Or better still, you can let them know that they want your product before you even cross their mind.

Omnichannel selling has never been more important

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To achieve the latter, you need to make sure that your omnichannel selling capabilities are on point.

Offering multiple fulfilment options along with a seamless user experience across all platforms is not just important; it is vital in the context of a highly competitive ecommerce landscape. With more shoppers than ever now opting for mobile as their ecommerce platform of choice, it is up to brands to optimise their omnichannel experience in order to attract and retain customers.

Omnichannel marketing goes hand in hand with this. If your brand is being presented to existing and potential customers across multiple touch points, using tailored messaging to target the gift buyer, you will immediately have an edge over your competitors.

And with the lifetime value of consumers availing of an omnichannel experiencing reportedly 30 percent higher than other customers, your pre-Christmas efforts will be likely to pay off well into 2022.

Making memories matters most in 2021

Consumer trend experts in the know have suggested that this year’s shoppers will be highly focused on buying gifts that are personal, thoughtful, and that will prioritise the making of memories over fulfilling materialistic desires.

After almost two years of isolation and separation from loved ones, people are homing in on what really matters in life, and this will be represented in the gifts they choose.

Personalised items like jewellery and Christmas decorations fall under this category as popular keepsakes. Similarly, food and drink items that revolve around sharing and creating an experience will be big news for those putting a lot of thought into their gifts.

Items that have been inspired by pandemic living are also showing up on many gift guides for 2021. Things like tech gadgets, subscriptions, home accessories – and even portable campfires – are all practical gifts that appeal to the homebody/outdoorsy individuals many of us have become.

Building trust is a must

Another buzz word in relation to product trends for Christmas 2021 is ‘eco-friendly’. Shoppers are becoming more environmentally conscious than ever, with a recent consumer insights survey revealing that 69 percent of respondents admitted to doing everything in their power to minimise their carbon footprint.

Furthermore, 81 percent of those surveyed have an expectation of companies to be environmentally conscious when it comes to their advertising and communications. And this desire to trust in a brand’s ethos extends beyond sustainability.

It is also vital for ecommerce retailers to build trust among their customer base in terms of their ability to deliver a high-quality, efficient service in spite of pandemic and supply chain uncertainty.

How outsourcing order fulfilment can help ecommerce businesses shine this Christmas

With competitors at every corner and numerous outside factors threatening to hinder great business reputations, many ecommerce retailers are outsourcing their order fulfilment to ensure consistency in customer service and satisfaction.

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Same-day or next-day delivery, efficient tracking, delivery notifications, and great customer support truly matter to your customers, particularly during the busy Christmas period.

If they have a positive experience with each product delivery, they are likely to return for more, well after the festive season. Aside from improving customer experience, outsourcing this element of your business will drastically reduce the stress associated with ensuring your customer demands are met through seamless, speedy delivery.

When you partner with ParcelPlanet, our team is on hand to support you every step of the way. With over 10 years of expertise in the industry, we pride ourselves on providing an exceptional service that you can rely on. Ultimately, we are here to be your fulfilment partner, enabling you to be even more successful, faster!

Allow our experience to benefit your business this Christmas and beyond. Contact us today for further information.