Consumer buying habits have significantly shifted this year since the start of the outbreak. Ecommerce has surged during the last six months, with online purchasing trends set to continue through the end of the year and beyond – greatly impacting the 2020 holiday season. Last month, eMarketer reported it expects there to be a 10.5% decline in total U.S. retails sales this year because of social distancing measures, but that ecommerce will likely grow by as much as 18% by the end of 2020.
“COVID-19 has disrupted lives in different ways,” writes Facebook in its ‘2020 Facebook Holiday Package’ report offering insights on the upcoming holiday season, “In this new normal, people are becoming more open to trying new products, services or activities that offer better price, quality or convenience.”
When looking toward the holiday season, Salesforce predicts that up to 30% of global retail sales will be made through digital channels during the holidays, with 10% of mobile orders happening via social channels – and as much as 12% to 15% happening via social channels during peak shopping days.
“Social media will be the most important emerging platform for engaging with consumers” writes Salesforce, “With 66% of Gen Z consumers stating that they’ve purchased on social during the pandemic, brands must break down the historical friction between inspiration and purchase.”
A July report from Radial underscores Salesforce’s predictions. The omnichannel commerce technology platform surveyed more than 1,000 U.S. consumers about their holiday shopping plans and found that 66% report they will increase their online purchases this year, with 60% claiming they plan to shop less in-store during the holiday season. Meanwhile, the majority of consumers surveyed by Radial said they plan to spend the same amount of money on gifts this year as they did last year. (Facebook’s own research found that 53% of the 1,500 consumers it surveyed from around the world said COVID-19 will have little or no impact on their personal finances.)
The numbers are clear: The holiday shopping season will definitely look much different than past years with more people shopping online, but there are still gains to be made by the brands that can fully optimize their digital channels – and there is no better place to start than on Facebook and Instagram.
Both Facebook and Instagram have launched multiple tools this year to help advertisers of all sizes better utilize each platform’s advertising and ecommerce capabilities. From Facebook Shops to Instagram Checkout, small businesses and big brands alike can create seamless online buying experiences for their Facebook and Instagram audiences – updates that will be especially helpful to drive more online sales this holiday season.
Here are a few tips to take full advantage of Facebook and Instagram during the coming months:
Facebook reports an average of 72% of Gen X and 50% of Baby Boomers are spending more time on mobile since the start of the pandemic. This fact, paired with Salesforce’s forecast that as much as 15% of mobile orders will be coming through social channels this holiday season, translates to an increasing reliance on mobile-first ecommerce for consumers across varying demographics.
Advertisers need to optimize their Facebook and Instagram campaigns accordingly – creating mobile experiences that align with the way users are viewing branded content. According to Facebook’s 2020 holiday insights report, 82% of global shoppers reported user-experience issues when trying to shop online during the holidays: 32% of Baby Boomers report font sizes were too small on their mobile device; 25% of Millennials claim content did not fit on the screen; and more than 25% of all consumers claimed images were not clear.
These are easy-to-fix issues when launching campaigns on Facebook and Instagram as long as advertisers take the time to perform quality checks on their ad creative. When it comes to creating effective, engaging ads – the devil is in the details. If you are not optimizing your ads for an optimal mobile experience, you could be leaving money on the table that your competitor will surely grab.
This year, Facebook launched Facebook Shops to help SMBs expand their ecommerce efforts. (AKvertise President Akvile DeFazio wrote about the new feature for Coywolf News when it first launched in May.) Since launching its ecommerce storefront platform for SMBs, Facebook has recently made it available to all eligible businesses and added new customization features, messaging and insights.
For businesses unfamiliar with Facebook Shops, it allows brands to create a mobile-first online store that resides on the business’ Facebook Page and Instagram Profile and is accessible to users via both platforms. Businesses can upload product collections that Facebook and Instagram users can easily browse to save or order products directly in the app.
In July, Facebook added new design layouts for the Facebook Shops platform so that brands could feature single products or groups of products. Also, the latest updates include new insights via Facebook’s Commerce Manager, allowing brands to measure the performance of their Facebook Shops.
As we near the holidays, SMBs can utilize Facebook Shops to feature their most popular holiday items, giving products more exposure across Facebook and Instagram and creating more accessible online shopping opportunities for users.
One of Instagram’s biggest features for advertisers – Instagram Checkout – first launched more than a year ago to a limited number of brands. The feature makes it possible for users to purchase the brand’s products directly within the app, creating a “seamless and secure” payment option via the platform. Last month, Facebook announced it was rolling out Instagram Checkout to all eligible U.S. business and creator accounts with a Shops integration – tying together the Shops experience with Checkout’s in-app purchasing capabilities.
“Businesses can open up a Shop with Checkout on Instagram using Commerce Manager, or via integration with platform partners like Shopify and BigCommerce,” wrote Instagram on its Business Blog, “After enabling checkout on Instagram, businesses can enjoy benefits like reducing friction in the path to purchase and gaining access to other shopping tools, such as shopping from creators (the ability to tag your products in their posts), additional ad products and signals, product launches (the ability to notify people of your upcoming launch on Instagram) and live shopping.”
Not only has Instagram opened access to its Checkout feature, it is waiving selling fees through the end of the year – a boon to SMBs that want to take advantage of the in-app purchasing feature. The waived fee is also a major benefit to any DTC brands on the platform this holiday season, offering them the opportunity to create a seamless customer journey from product discovery to purchase with little cost to implement.
Retailers, major brands and SMBs alike have had to adopt to entirely new consumer buying patterns this year. The surge in ecommerce has, according to Salesforce, established a new baseline for digital. Per Radial’s findings, consumers are going to be shopping online more, without significantly changing how much they plan to spend or when they plan to buy.
“This means the 2020 holiday season will look as busy as ever – and even more hectic when it comes to the demands on ecommerce, driving the need for scalability amongst retailers,” writes Radial.
The advertisers that will come out ahead this holiday season will be the ones that are able to optimize their ads by creating a seamless buying experience for shoppers, shortening the gap between browsing and buying products online.