Abstract: Although the holiday shopping season may seem far away for most of the people, this is the right time for those working in marketing to prepare for a dynamic, unpredictable peak period in retail. As 2020 has been an unprecedent year in online sales, reaching $ 1.1 trillion (€ 836 billion) in global sales, increasing 50% from the previous year, it is difficult to come up with exact figures for 2021. However, we can still observe an upward trend in online sales. Based on research results,  Google says that the trend towards online shopping will keep growing, considering the people’s interest to surf the web for inspired shopping ideas.

The main events to consider this fall are:

The most recent trends

1. The pandemic accelerated the way people buy (in 2020, Romania reached 2.3% of the eCommerce share in total retail) (source: Eurostat, Euromonitor)

2. The buyers need help, considering the variety of brands and the complex buying process, especially since the online-offline barriers have completely disappeared. (source: Google Trends)

3. Buyers wish the trust they place in the brand to be respected. During the pandemic, the loyalty level increased: 72% of respondents said they would prefer to buy from the same retailer. (source: Smart Shopper Research, Google Study and Kantar Romania)

Buyer behavior in 2021 in Romania (source: Google Smart Shopper Research, Cint 2021)

90% of the Romanian respondents believe they will stick to the new buyer behavior model they acquired during the pandemic

  • Product availability is important when choosing between online and offline
  • Over 50% of the products in electronics and home & garden categories were discovered online, followed by fashion with 36%
  • Although loyalty has increased during the pandemic, consumers say they are willing to explore new options
  • 50% of the retail clicks volume is due to Google Shopping
  • Fast delivery and price, followed by comfort and availability, are the main factors that would determine a brand change
  • People discover new things and buy through social media more than ever

Insights to consider when preparing campaigns

  • It is important to reach potential customers while they are surfing the internet
  • Connect with potential customers while they are analyzing the market
  • Sell to those who are ready to buy
  • Be prepared to generate sales during the holidays

It is important to reach users while they are surfing the internet

81% of the worldwide consumers who were part of the research say they have discovered new brands during the COVID-19 pandemic.

Connect with consumers and inspire them with videos

When watching a video, consumers can go from just a simple curiosity to an actual purchase if they are interested in the product and motivated to learn more about it: 63% of those who use YouTube say they decided to buy from a brand after watching a related video.

Gain visibility on Social Media

Finding a suitable gift for their loved ones seems to be the biggest challenge for those who took part in a Facebook study, which is why people try to find inspiration in social media apps in the holidays seasons.

As the most downloaded social media app worldwide in 2020, Tik Tok maintains its position at the top in 2021. Currently, in Romania, Tik Tok users exceed the number of active users on Instagram. Users say that they are impressed by the speed and ease of finding offers and promotions around the holidays, and also Tik Tok is the place where they feel inspired and come up with shopping ideas.

1. 2020 Insights that you should consider (Facebook study)

  • 63% of shoppers enjoyed discovering products they weren’t actively searching for
  • 70% discovered at least one new product while they were shopping online during the holidays
  • Gifts are mostly discovered spontaneously – 45% of the products discovered were gifts 
  • Products discovered online help people buy local – 24% say they bought from a local business they didn’t know about

In the marketing guide for 2021 holiday season, Facebook identifies 4 needs that shoppers expect to be met on social media platforms:

  • Community and Connection. Be customer oriented and create the same connection online as in a physical store.
  • Interaction and Entertainment. Put content first to attract new customers.
  • Anticipation and Occasion. Get ready with special offers for events such as Black Friday, Halloween, Christmas.
  • Inspiration and Spontaneity. Inspire buyers with personalized offers and flexibility.

2. Connect with potential customers while they are analyzing the market

Before making a purchase, buyers search for products on Google: they compare prices, search for offers and check the latest reviews. More than half of the respondents say they use Google Search to find out more about products in the physical store.

Be the answer when they search

Buyers don’t always have in mind a specific product when searching in a category they are interested in. For example, searches for “the best” keep increasing from year to year.

Tip: You can create personalized and relevant ads for buyers using Google Responsive Search Ads or Facebook Dynamic Ads. 

The demand is growing for those who are curious, but don’t have a clear intention to buy

91% of Google users say they took action on a promoted product when they discovered new services, brands or products in their feed.

We recommend that you connect with them using Discovery ads as they explore content on Google, watch videos on YouTube or look for seasonal offers in Gmail.

Also, social networks such as Facebook, Instagram and Tik Tok play a very important part, considering the radical way in which buyers’ perception on digital channels has changed lately, combining utility with inspiration more and more.

Bring new customers

When planning marketing campaigns for your online store, we recommend that you consider the conversion funnel. At the top of the funnel, we have a large volume of traffic brought on the website, the users who take action or not, while at the bottom we have the users you have already turned into customers. Each pay-per-click marketing channel can be successfully integrated into this conversion funnel, and brands can use the platforms functionality to attract quality traffic (people interested in the products and services). You can find here more info on the conversion funnel.

3. Sell to those who are ready to buy

Buyers expect to be able to buy a product as soon as they find it or they want to check if it’s available in a nearby physical store. Globally, searches such as “nearby” have increased by more than 100% in the last year. We can observe a similar upward trend also in Romania:

Create a flawless shopping experience

An increase of just 0.1 in the website’s loading speed can improve your conversion rate by 8%. To improve your website speed, we recommend a tool such as Test My Site

Connect with mobile shoppers

Today, more than ever, people use mobile phones to meet their needs. According to Google, 53% of shoppers expect to be able to buy from any brand or company with a website or application using their mobile phone. With the help of Google App campaigns or Facebook App Installs you can connect with your target audience, encouraging them to buy or install the app.

Publish your products for free on Google

Using Google Shopping you can list products for free and appear in the Search results. There is a feed where you can sync products on your website with the Merchant Center. 

Use Smart Shopping to bring new customers and buyers interested in offers

Marketers using Smart Shopping claim that they noticed a 30% increase in conversion value. The automatic bidding method for Smart Shopping campaigns uses the products feed to create and display various ads across multiple networks, including Google Search, Google Display, YouTube and Gmail. 

Increase offline traffic by advertising in-store items

Before going to the physical store, buyers check online the products and info regarding the business. It is recommended to update your business profile and to add information about the delivery, product availability and the possibility to buy it from the physical store.

Îți recomandăm să actualizezi profilul de business și să adaugi informații despre livrare, stocuri și posibilitatea de a cumpăra din magazinul fizic.

Using Local Ads is an effective method to bring people to the store by promoting your location to those who search in Google Maps, Search, YouTube or Google Display Network. This is also where you can highlight special offers and daily updates from the store.

Use insights to optimize campaigns and measure the omnichannel performance

Performance Planner can help you anticipate Google Search and Shopping campaigns so that you can optimize it for the arising opportunities.

Be prepared to generate sales during the holidays

Last year, many consumers chose to start their Christmas shopping earlier. Following the same trend, holiday shopping in 2021 will start earlier than ever. Here’s how to prepare this year:

Be visible: Offer clear information on products and offers to inspire buyers from the moment they discover you.

Stand out from the crowd: In 2021, holidays will be based on personalization and an intuitive digital experience.

Start early: Prepare products and offers in advance for those who start searching early for the best deals.

Be flexible: Starting from in-app functionalities to delivery options variety, create a flawless shopping experience that will be beyond expectations.

Embrace the change: Be prepared for unpredictable changes involving automated tools.

We hope these insights will help you in planning your Q4 strategy. If you need help in drawing a strategy for your online shop and in increasing sales through pay-per-click channels, don’t hesitate to contact us.

About Optimized

At Optimized we are specialized in e-commerce PPC campaigns (Google Ads, Facebook Ads, Instagram Ads, Pinterest Ads, YouTube Ads). Our portfolio includes online stores and our approach is based on clear performance objectives (CPA, ROAS, ROI). Our team consists of PPC specialists and certified Google trainers, as well as people with hands-on experience in e-commerce.

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