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Is Your Ecommerce Store Ready For The 2020 Holiday Season?

For many, the holidays bring memories of gift-giving, feasting with friends and family, holiday movies and even snow. 

But if you’re in the ecommerce and retail industry, the holidays may bring feelings of stress, high adrenaline and the possibility of a large increase in revenue. While we don’t want to make your ecommerce holiday season less busy, we do want to help make things less stressful. We’ve pulled some resources together to compile a recap from the 2019 holiday season, expert predictions on what to expect for this upcoming holiday season, and a list of important dates to keep in mind.

2019 Ecommerce Holiday Season Review 

Let’s first take a look at how much consumers spent in retail during the 2019 holiday season. According to eMarketer, total retail spending both online and offline increased by 3.7% in 2019 compared to 2018, bringing in slightly over one trillion dollars in revenue. 2019 was the first trillion-dollar holiday season. Ever. Ecommerce sales in particular grew by 13.2%, reaching $137.55 billion.

Let’s break this number down to specific holiday periods in 2019 — Thanksgiving, Black Friday and Cyber Monday.

In 2019, Cyber Monday turned out to be the heaviest online spending day in history, increasing by 19.7% from the year before and bringing in $9.4 billion. 

Black Friday online sales grew by 19.6%, reaching $7.4 billion and coming in as the second-heaviest day of the season.

On Thanksgiving, online sales increased by 14.5%, bringing in $4.2 billion.

Together, these ecommerce sales numbers make the holiday season the most important time period for plenty of global retailers.

For this reason, we’ve compiled a list of quarter four ecommerce holiday dates as well as suggested dates along the way to make sure your ecommerce store is ready.

Important Holiday Dates:

  • Thanksgiving — November 26, 2020
  • Black Friday — November 27, 2020
  • Cyber Monday — November 30, 2020
  • Christmas Period — December 3-22, 2020

For many ecommerce businesses, the entire month of November is known as Black November. This is because many businesses and companies begin running sales, promotions, email campaigns, and marketing efforts at the beginning of November. Several companies and businesses even start running campaigns and promotions as early as October.

Here are our suggested dates to begin planning for your holiday season.

Suggested Holiday Planning Dates:

  • Team meeting — July 27-31

Use this time to plan out your company’s holiday goals, inventory needed, newsletter ideas, and what promotions you’ll want to run. Review your holiday sales forecast to help determine your supplies' demand. 

  • Inventory planning — August 3-7

One of the largest issues many companies have experienced during this pandemic has been inventory. 47% of online shoppers experienced both out-of-stocks and shipping delays. Take this time to plan your inventory needs thoroughly, but keep in mind that the buying trends this year may be different than what we’ve seen in previous years.

Make sure to also plan for your packaging needs. Use this time to determine what packaging you'll be needing for your products and which packaging supplier you'll want to choose. This is your team's time to shop around for the best packaging rates for the packaging that fits your business's needs.

  • Inventory check-in and packaging ordering — September 1-4

If you’re planning to begin promotions in October, take this week in September to check up on your inventory.

Use this time to also order packaging so you're not hit with any holiday shipping delays.

  • Final promotions check-in — October 1

If you’re planning to begin promotions in October or early November, use this day to finalize what you’ll be offering as far as promotions during the season. You can always run a last minute promotion if you feel it’s necessary, but having a plan ensures your entire team knows what to expect, and gives you time to plan accordingly on how to execute those promotions.

  • Preparing warehouse, operations, supply chain and shipping — October 12-16

Now's your time to prep your warehouse and operations team. Let them know what holiday demand you're expecting, what new products you'll be adding, and if there are any packaging changes they need to be aware of. Also let your team know what shipments to expect from the orders you've placed to prep for the season.

  • Understand the carrier delays, deadlines and surcharges — November 1

Keep a list or a calendar of the last shipping days in order for orders to arrive at customers doors in time for the holidays.

Now is also the time to brush up on any holiday shipping surcharges (it happens every year), and possible holiday delays.

What To Expect for Holiday Season 2020

Plan ahead, but don’t overwhelm yourself or your team. Many ecommerce specialists are trying to predict what the ecommerce holiday trends will look like for this year, but the truth is that we can only look at what happened in the past and the ecommerce trends up until today. 

In a survey from Digital Commerce 360 of 107 retailers, 33% reported that sales were down significantly. For this reason, it’s hard to predict how much shoppers will be willing to spend during the holidays.

In a similar survey to consumers, 42% of online shoppers responded that price was a big purchasing decision-maker for them. For this reason, Digital Commerce 360 suspects that many retailers and ecommerce store owners will be providing steep discounts and numerous promotions this holiday season.

Overall, we’ve seen how businesses have switched to ecommerce even before COVID-19 forced many to do so. It may be safer to plan ahead rather than to wait until you’ve exhausted your inventory in September to take action. Making sure you have all your campaigns and logistics planned in advance of the holidays will prepare your business and your team for success. 

One more thing to note for your ecommerce business is your shipping boxes. Don’t wait until the last minute to order your packaging. Make sure to stock up on shipping supplies ahead of the holiday season. If you plan ahead, you can even get custom shipping boxes with your logo and some holiday themed prints. 

Check back for holiday-themed custom shipping boxes.

Ready to stock up on boxes now? Take advantage of our fast fulfillment times and get shipping boxes with your logo printed for almost the same price as plain boxes.

We want to know: When does your ecommerce store start planning for the holidays? Send us an email at 

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