2021 Holiday Shopping Predictions: These Trends May Surprise You


The holiday season is almost upon us. Ecommerce stores are gearing up for another booming year of online shopping. In this post, we’ll review the online holiday shopping trends of 2021. Check out our surprising new predictions for how to maximize your holiday marketing!

The holiday shopping season will start earlier than usual

delivery boxes

Holiday purchasing will start long before Halloween this year, in what has been a strengthening trend in shopping behavior over the past decade. In 2020, over 40% of shoppers began buying holiday gifts ahead of schedule. Cyber Monday has stretched into the Cyber 10, and maybe beyond.

The Black Friday-Cyber Monday (BFCM) sales period continues to hold strong as part of a wider ecommerce trend. However what used to be an early bargain-seeking surge is now the final leg of the holiday buying frenzy.

There are several reasons why we expect 2021 to accelerate this ecommerce trend. The Delta Covid wave will keep some consumers from joining the in-store holiday crush. And globally, supply chain disruptions have made empty shelves, limited availability, and long shipping delays the norm in some sectors and industries.

Given these concerns, it makes sense that many consumers want to begin their holiday shopping in advance of the busy season. Expect this year’s BFCM period to be one of intense online competition.

Smart online sellers can get ahead by protecting their customers’ orders. BuySafe offers an independent shopping guarantee so consumers know they’re protected if supply or logistics disruptions affect their order.

Consumer loyalty will be critical to long-term growth

It’s been a long time coming, but cookies are finally going away. No, not the sweet treats you leave out for Santa, but the digital thumbprint that third parties use to track online activity. Apple has already blocked third-party cookies, and Google will follow suit by the end of 2023. That’s a massive blow to ecommerce retailers, who rely on consumer insights to deploy remarketing ad campaigns.


"Ecommerce stores should begin the pivot to brand loyalty immediately."


Ecommerce stores should begin the pivot to brand loyalty immediately. This is especially important for smaller retailers that can’t adjust as quickly. It’s time to forget keeping tabs on abandoned carts or returning visitors, and concentrate on earning customers’ loyalty.

Salesforce predicts retailers will launch over 1,000 new loyalty programs this holiday season. However 50% of subscribers won’t log back in beyond January. It’s not enough to sign customers up with the promise of a coupon or deal. To generate real loyalty, ecommerce stores have to demonstrate their human side.

One of the most influential drivers of shopping behavior is diversity and inclusion. Around 40% of minority consumers say they’d switch to a merchant that was more committed to social justice. And among millennials and Gen Z, a brand’s social stance is just as important as its products — as long as they believe the commitment is real.

Leaning into heartfelt messaging will also produce greater results. Last year’s holiday shopping season wasn’t the one many people envisioned at the start of the year. In 2021, expect the holidays to be more about making memories than collecting stuff. Sentimental or experiential gifts are likely to outperform the market, and retailers that deliver personalized messaging will come out on top.

SMS marketing will really take off

woman on mobile phone

If the idea of getting ads by text message makes you shudder, you’re not alone. But even though consumers say they’re resistant to SMS marketing, the numbers say otherwise. In 2020, Omnisend oversaw a 378% increase in SMS marketing messages versus the previous year. And the majority of them (68%) were delivered in Q4.

Text messages aren’t just being delivered. They’re being read and they’re generating sales. The read rate is particularly high, between 90-98% (when was the last time you left a text unseen?). That’s lightyears ahead of email (20%) or PPC ads (2%). Last year, the messages Omnisend delivered generated 2.5% of Black Friday sales across all channels.

The truth is, consumers like to get information by text. It’s fast, convenient, and goes hand-in-hand with the staggering rise of new mobile commerce trends. Getting on board with SMS marketing can put ecommerce vendors ahead and really make a difference during this critical season.

Discovery commerce will put savvy retailers ahead

In 2021, social media is driving sales like never before. A Facebook poll found 66% of regular users had discovered a new-to-them ecommerce retailer through the site. Almost as many confirmed they enjoyed discovering new products, even when they weren’t looking to buy.

Targeting new customers before they even intend to buy is the result of cutting edge data analytics offered by social media giants. It can bring your products to your customers before they even know they’re looking for them.


"M-commerce sales are expected to make up 72.9% of all ecommerce sales this year."

The rise in discovery commerce has gone hand-in-hand with changes in mobile commerce trends. M-commerce sales are expected to make up 72.9% of all ecommerce sales this year.

It makes sense, when the average user spends almost 2.5 hours on social media each day, that social media would drive sales. The smartest retailers will unite discovery commerce with holiday marketing to maximize the impact of social media. Look for gift guides that inspire browsers to become buyers, and augmented reality to showcase how products would look in users’ homes.

Earning consumer trust will be everything

Everyone has a story to tell of empty shelves, delayed and canceled orders last year. Or even taking chances on unknown online sellers, only to be burned with low-quality counterfeits. 2020 was tough for ecommerce vendors and consumers alike.

One thing is clear about the online holiday shopping trends of 2021. In order to undo the damage from last year ahead of the holiday shopping season, online sellers have to regain consumer trust.

That’s why so many vendors trust BuySafe to protect their business reputation. BuySafe offers an independent guarantee for every order placed on our partners’ websites. Customers can purchase with confidence, knowing their order is secure and their information is protected. If something goes wrong, BuySafe has got them covered!

Get started with BuySafe to boost your online sales today

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