For the most part, Christmases are the same.

And that’s a good thing.

Copious amounts of food, family, gift-giving, and, if you’re lucky, perhaps some snow. It’s these Christmas traditions that make the holiday what it is. In the lead up to the holidays, the buy patterns tend to follow a similar trend. Buy, buy, buy.

As usual, ecommerce brands are right in the thick of this ‘buy, buy, buy’ part. BFCM (Black Friday Cyber Monday), as well as the holiday period, mean that Q4 is the busiest, and quite often, the most profitable time of year.

However, 2020 may be a little different.

While many parts of the world are, at present, battling with the COVID-19 pandemic in different ways, one thing is for sure – the restrictions imposed throughout 2020 means that Christmas shopping this year won’t be ‘traditional’ in any way, shape or form.

Customers will be turning to the internet to do their shopping; not just to stay safe, but because the Black Friday, Cyber Monday and Holiday shopping trio will continue to break Q4 records.

In this article, you’ll see how you can position your brand to make the most of this new shopping sentiment, as well as: using your ecommerce store to replace a physical store; diversify away from major marketplaces; keep those new customers coming back in 2021.

So here’s why Q4 2020 will be unlike any other, and how your online store can prepare for it.

RIP Retail
Online sales will increase, pandemic or not
Amazon isn’t your friend
Click & Collect is a saviour
Manage your inventory better
Gift cards are a godsend
Don’t forget to say thanks

Sounds good? Let’s dive in!

RIP Retail

While it’s not dead, retail will be different this holiday season – much different. Capped store numbers, hand sanitizers and compulsory masks are there to keep people safe, but will also drive people to shop online rather than take a risk.

This sentiment increases the importance of your brand’s online presence, especially your stand-alone website.

While we may very well see people lining up out the front of Best Buy for Black Friday specials, many consumers will stay home and look online for bargains. BFCM (Black Friday Cyber Monday) in 2018 and 2019 set insane records.

Combine this consistent record-breaking trend with the fact more shoppers are staying home, and you can see again why your online store is so important.

Actionable solution: Prepare early.

Sitting back and expecting holiday sales to come to you is a guaranteed way to fall short. While your sales and revenue may naturally increase, there are a few simple things you can do to get the most out of the holiday season.

Having a documented strategy on how you will approach Holiday Marketing is the first step to getting the most out of the season. What holidays will you cater to? Bundling popular products together, discounting the most profitable items and doubling down on sharable content like infographics can help your name get that extra notoriety.

Example of the ecommerce blog
Here you can see how Brooklyn Soap use their blog to show their product solving problems their customers have.

Having started a blog, they now create content that builds trust, and ultimately customers.

An effective ecommerce brand knows its CAC (Customer acquisition cost). Come the holidays, keeping this as low as possible means more cash in your back pocket, and more money to spend elsewhere. An excellent place to look at lowering your CAC is with paid advertisements.

Are you bidding on the most effective keywords? If so, are you bidding too much? Consider learning the most basic Google or Facebook Ad Tools to get the most from your paid Christmas campaigns.

Online sales will increase, pandemic or not

As you just read, online spending only increases every year. Therefore, whether COVID-19 forces more people to shop online or not, more people will end buying from online sources in 2020.

Retail ecommerce sales worldwide 2014-2023
Retail ecommerce sales over the years.

So your website or online sales channels are in a prime position to get more traffic. This traffic is more than likely going to come from a variety of sources, and therefore be different types of people looking to solve a broader range of problems.

Actionable solution: Ensure your site is up to date.

Many retail brands were forced to start selling online thanks to the Coronavirus outbreak. This meant that many online stores were set up hastily to keep alive.

In the rush to get set up, many business owners may have left out some fundamental steps to establishing an online store.

Whether this is you or not, the lead up to Christmas is the best time to take stock and ensure the technical and structural integrity of your website is up to scratch.

Consider the following:

Amazon isn’t your friend

One in three online purchases is made on Amazon. This insane statistic goes to show the market dominance that Amazon has. However, it may surprise you to learn that Amazon dominates most niches simply because there’s no competition.


If Amazon is one of the ways that you take your product to the market, diversifying away from Amazon may be the best business decision to make.

And once again, we have the Coronavirus to thank for this ultimately.

The rise in online shopping seen in early 2020 due to coronavirus restrictions saw three massive corporations put their heads together to take on Amazon.

Google, Facebook and Shopify made significant changes to their businesses, unofficially forming the ‘Anti Amazon Alliance‘. The goal is to help sellers take their products to the world without relying on Amazon.

It’s safe to say that, while Amazon will continue to be a powerhouse, people are starting to look elsewhere.

Actionable solution: Effectively brand your brand.

One of the most inherent problems about selling on an online marketplace is that customers don’t always remember your brand. They remember the product and where they got it, but they don’t remember you, making customer retention nigh on impossible. That’s the burden of selling under someone else’s name.

But effective branding can be the first step in making your name more memorable. Regardless of the sales channel, an ecommerce brand’s first physical touchpoint with their customer is their packaging.

Custom packaging supplies are the first step to making a lasting first impression and putting (and ultimately keeping) your brand’s name in your customer’s head.

Sales receipts and invoices with letterheads, branded business cards and other elements that have your name, logo, colour palette and ultimately branding push your name even further home.

Ensure that all this physical branding is backed up with the same branding on your website, social media channels, as well as product photos.

A consistent branding experience not only makes your brand look professional, but it also encourages customers to remember your name, and buy from your stand-alone website.

Professional product photos will surely help.

A consistent branding experience not only makes your brand look professional, but it also encourages customers to remember your name, and buy from your stand-alone website.

Click & Collect is a saviour

Long wait times are one of many things that can affect your ecommerce store’s conversion rate. With Amazon Prime offering same day or next day delivery on just about everything, the long wait time will ruin your sales and profits.

But quicker shipping time isn’t the only answer.

Many retail stores quickly adapted to the limited foot traffic by offering Click and Collect. Buy online, and pick the purchase up yourself from a local store or warehouse.

The benefits include:

    • No delivery costs
    • Customers pick up a product at a time that suits their needs
    • Contactless pickup lowers health and safety risks
    • No shipping risks for your business

Actionable solution: Make it work.

If you’re dropshipping or selling Print on Demand, it’s evident that Click and Collect isn’t going to work for you. But if you’re a small business with a physical retail store, or you have a warehouse location, consider setting up click and collect for your store.

Most ecommerce platforms offer a Click & Collect feature to add to your online store, giving buyers the option of specifying a time they’d like to pick up their purchase.

Manage your inventory better

Growing and scaling a successful ecommerce business can be a lot harder than many owners anticipate. Headless ecommerce can be a great way to solve this. But breaking your online store into two parts, front end and back end creates a wealth of other problems – mainly inventory management.

Actionable solution: Track closer

Stocking up on popular products is a common way to approach inventory management come Christmas.

But as your brand grows and diversifies its sales channels, demand forecasting gets increasingly harder, and the potential to lock up too much cash on shelves (or not enough) becomes real.

Having negative stock (selling products you don’t have in stock) is a risky, but effective practice. But a terrible idea during the Holiday season, when purchases are often given as gifts.

On the other end of the spectrum, over half of retail supply chain executives say they spend too much time crunching numbers. This simply means that too much time is spent focussing on data, rather than managing inventory. Rapid demand forecasting can be a way to change that. This concept also has the added benefit of being adaptable to economic changes, recessions and other impactful events.

Gift cards are a godsend

Whether it’s shoppers getting lazier or people becoming harder to buy for, the statistics are clear: gift cards are growing in popularity.

And for whatever reason that may be, making gift cards a staple of your store is a great way to get more cash flowing into your business. As the person receiving the gift card may have never heard of your brand, they’re a great way to spread brand awareness and to try your products without having to spend their own money on it.


Gift cards have the added bonus of needing very little customer service to use them!

Actionable solution: Sell digital and physical gift cards.

Selling both physical and digital gift cards in your online store means you can appeal to the entire spectrum of customers this holiday season. Selling physical gift cards and delivering them in custom cardboard envelopes has the benefits of being a real, physical and tangible Christmas gift, and gives you real estate for more branding.

On the other hand, last-minute Christmas shoppers can buy a digital gift card in your store at any point in time. Again, most ecommerce platforms offer the ability to give digital gift cards, and many companies offer custom printing on your own physical gift cards.

Don’t forget to say thanks

Don’t get so caught up in managing your store this Christmas that you forget to put humanity into your brand. People resonate with brands that give a damn.

This is the first and most critical step to ensuring that a customer comes back to buy from you in the future.

Actionable advice: Say thanks.

Acts such as donating a percentage of your profits to charity not only do social good, but they are a great marketing opportunity. Sponsoring food drives to help those less fortunate is another great way to show that your brand is more than just about pumping up the profits.

Christmas is also a great time to show your customers than in buying from you, they’ve helped a brand grow and made a difference. You can do this by including a handwritten thank you note as part of your unboxing experience. An unboxing experience that’s designed to leave a lasting first impression, combined with a thank you note and some good wishes is a potent 1-2 hit to empower a customer and foster customer delight.

Author bio:


Phil Forbes is a hairy Australian guy living in Warsaw, Poland. When he’s not helping take Packhelp’s custom cardboard boxes to the world, he can be found trying not to kill his house plants, or writing for his blog expatspoland.


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