A third of e-commerce companies 'opting out of peak season'

A third of e-commerce companies are choosing to opt-out of participating in peak season campaigns this year — an unprecedented rise from only six per cent in 2019.

However, consumer demand is trending in the opposite direction, with 34 per cent of shoppers planning to increase their peak season spending year-on-year.

The findings come from a survey conducted by Yieldify among more than 400 US and UK e-commerce leaders and 2,000 consumers in August, which found most of the former group were pessimistic about their peak season prospects.

While in 2019, nearly 90 per cent of marketers expected to outdo their previous year’s results, only 45 per cent were so positive this year. However, only 18 per cent of consumers indicated that their peak season spending would decrease - in fact, the data showed an eight per cent growth in the proportion of consumers shopping mostly/only online.

Consumers also indicated that their changed behaviours as a result of COVID-19 would continue, with over half (52 per cent) planning to shop on sites new to them since last year’s peak season.

Waleed Al-Atraqchi, chief executive at Yieldify, commented: “In times of such uncertainty, it’s natural that many e-commerce leaders feel cautious ahead of peak season, however, this report shows that this disruption could present a golden advantage for the e-commerce leaders who ‘opt-in’ to peak season activities.

"Consumer appetite is bigger than ever and the competition for this demand may be quieter than this year: with tactics such as strong personalisation in place, the potential rewards are huge.”

More than a quarter of e-commerce leaders cited a lack of consumer demand as their reason for non-participation, with increased competition the second most popular reason.

This again showed the mismatch with consumers, as in terms of Black Friday, while 23 per cent of e-commerce leaders were concerned that the holiday is seen as a marketing ploy, only three per cent of consumers agreed.

The atmosphere of caution was reflected in the strategies that participating e-commerce companies will employ this peak season. The proportion of companies planning to offer discounts as part of their peak season campaigns fell from 70 per cent last year to 41 per cent, while the most common level of discounting dropped from 21 to 30 per cent to 11 to 20 per cent this year.

The overall wariness can also be seen in the changes to the planning cycle: by September last year, nearly 70 per cent of e-commerce companies had already started their peak season planning. This year, that number sits at less than 40 per cent.

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