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November 8, 2021

7 Holiday Shopping Predictions for 2021

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Flexport Editorial Team

November 8, 2021

This blog post was originally published by Deliverr, which is now Flexport. The content has been adjusted to fit the Flexport brand voice and tone, but all other information remains unchanged. With the merging of Deliverr’s services (DTC fulfillment, B2B distribution, and Last Mile delivery) into Flexport’s existing international freight and technology services, we’re now able to provide merchants with true end-to-end logistics solutions spanning from the factory floor to the customer’s door.

The 2020 holiday season was truly unprecedented. Industry experts had been predicting a surge in eCommerce sales for months, and many of their predictions came true. One reason for the surge is the Covid-19 induced lockdown that prevented people from shopping in physical stores. In fact, U.S. consumers broke holiday shopping records last year during Cyber 5 (the span between Thanksgiving Day and Cyber Monday), with a 20.6% increase in online sales. 

As we approach the 2021 holiday season, many retail businesses are wondering what’s in store for this year. We talked to different eCommerce experts and gathered what they believe are the top trends that will impact this year’s holiday shopping. Below are seven holiday shopping predictions for 2021: 

1. Increased Online and Hybrid Shopping

As this year’s holiday season comes closer, we can be certain that online shopping is here to stay and will continue to grow, even as pandemic lockdowns decrease and physical stores start to reopen their doors. More and more shoppers are continuing to purchase online, and even traditional stores are starting to enter the digital playing field. The future of retail business is a combination of both online and offline.

Shoppers encounter different digital touchpoints as they decide on the things they will purchase, even before stepping foot into an actual store. Online shopping provides various key advantages such as product details, customer reviews and recommendations, and price comparison. Combining both assets of offline and online shopping is the key to more improved customer interaction. Whether customers choose to shop online or in-store this holiday season, it’s important that retail businesses are prepared to deliver an exceptional shopping experience.

2. Shopping Starts Early

Another holiday shopping prediction from experts is that consumers will start shopping early. Last year’s supply chain disruptions have left a strong impact on perceptions.

Research shows that in 2020, 70% of shoppers intended to shop earlier to avoid crowds and items running out of stock. Businesses expect a similar trend for 2021, and retailers should consider launching holiday promos earlier than usual to meet the early demand.

3. Early Preparation of Inventory

Something retailers should have the foresight for is supply chain constraint. Typically items should be ordered anywhere from 3-9 months in advance to be able to fulfill them on time for holiday shopping. As consumer demand increases and production capacity is being tapped out, global supply chains are expected to encounter major shortages.

Thus, retailers should consider these critical factors among others:

  • Will they be able to prepare enough inventory?
  • Will the supply come on time?
  • Will shipping constraints continue?
  • Will stores reopening lighten the load on carriers?

4. Demand for Convenient Options

“Convenience” will be the biggest holiday shopping trend for 2021. To carefully position themselves this holiday season, retail businesses should consider developing strategies based on the following customer demands:

  • Can I purchase online, when and how I want?
  • Can I pick it up in-store when I want?
  • Can I reserve in-store and have the product waiting for me to try?
  • Can I get immediate delivery?
  • Can I return my purchase through a simple collection service, or return it to the store and have it replaced?

With these demands in mind, retailers can consider implementing a checkout option called BOPIS or Buy Online, Pickup In-Store. This option allows a consumer to make a purchase online and pick up their order in-store. The order can be picked up in several ways: from a designated customer service or BOPIS pickup area, curbside pickup, BOPIS retail lockers, and the easiest and most convenient way for business, a third-party fulfillment service to handle even these logistics.

This year, the majority of the shopping process will happen online, but experts also believe that more inventory will be allocated away from retail and made available for easy delivery.

5. Mobile Shopping

Another trend to watch for in 2021 is shopping on mobile. Buying items from mobile devices is very convenient for shoppers on the go, especially for last-minute purchases. However, this trend has a downside, which is increased cart abandonment. Online retailers should curb this trend by providing customers a seamless end-to-end mobile shopping experience, and by keeping in mind that shoppers are more inclined to make a mobile purchase if a discount is available. One way that retailers deliver discounts is by offering coupon codes with subscriptions. 

6. Social Media Will Be More Significant

Ecommerce experts also predict that this year, more people will do their holiday shopping through social media. This is nothing new, but with the lasting impact of the pandemic, shoppers are using more and more digital channels for their purchases. In addition, brand discovery now takes place more often on mobile devices, and social media is to thank for that.

Merchants should make sure that they have a strong social media presence and a well-planned strategy before the coming holiday season. One tool they can use is Facebook for BigCommerce, which provides retailers the tools they need to thrive across Facebook and Instagram.

7. Reviews Will Play a Big Factor

Customer reviews will be increasingly more important in the 2021 holiday season. Industry experts agree that the availability of customer feedback and social proof has been critical to a merchant’s success. Brands and retailers are recommended to provide anything to help educate shoppers to encourage and increase conversion.  

Consumers want to be completely informed before they make a purchase and are happy to do their due diligence. Retailers need to offer this information or risk losing customers. Consumers want to read real reviews, and they expect to see a mix of both positive and negative comments. Trust between a business and its clients is one of the primary factors when it comes to customer reviews and their impact on revenue.

Wrapping Up

Only time will tell how the 2021 holiday season will go. Will customers be excited to shop in physical stores again, or will they continue to enjoy the convenience of online shopping?

What channels will they choose, and what features will earn their attention? Regardless of the outcome, these shopping predictions will help merchants prepare their businesses to increase their sales this coming holiday season.

The contents of this blog are made available for informational purposes only and should not be relied upon for any legal, business, or financial decisions. We do not guarantee, represent, or warrant the accuracy or reliability of any of the contents of this blog because they are based on Flexport’s current beliefs, expectations, and assumptions, about which there can be no assurance due to various anticipated and unanticipated events that may occur. This blog has been prepared to the best of Flexport’s knowledge and research; however, the information presented in this blog herein may not reflect the most current regulatory or industry developments. Neither Flexport nor its advisors or affiliates shall be liable for any losses that arise in any way due to the reliance on the contents contained in this blog.

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Flexport Editorial Team

November 8, 2021

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