It’s that time of year again. As the leaves change colour, the beaches here in Cornwall get quieter and knitwear catalogues come through our letterboxes, we thought it was a good time to look ahead at what retailers can expect for the 2023 festive season and remind you how Forms Plus can help you prepare.
What Trends are Predicted for E-Commerce in Autumn 2023?
Our research shows three major trends are predicted for the “Golden Quarter” this year. Shoppers will be looking for good deals after another difficult financial year. They will be shopping early, to make sure they find the best gift options at the best prices. As part of seeking out good value, they will be looking for sustainable products, that they feel good about offering as gifts.
Value for Money
In a survey researching Christmas Trends for 2023 for Retail Week, major retailers including Boots, Pandora UK and John Lewis all confirm that customers are taking time to make sure they get the very best value on their purchases this year. Consumers are cautious and the market is highly competitive, not just on price but on customer services like free delivery and returns, and other added value. Shoppers are spending more time comparing prices and offers across multiple marketplaces and retailers than they have in previous years.
Customers are expected to shop much earlier this year. In a bid to get the best deals and spread costs, many have already started. According to a survey by Google, in 2022 “as of mid-October, holiday shoppers globally had on average 21% of their holiday shopping complete”.
Christmas can be quite a low point for sustainability, with unwanted gifts and items that have little use once we go back to work in January. Studies show that as awareness around environmental impact increases, customers expect brands to be making far more effort on sustainability. This applies both to products and their packaging. According to Retail Week, major retailers are removing plastic and glitter from gifts, cards and wrapping paper, and customers are considering quality and longevity far more then they used to when making their selection.
At Forms Plus we now stock a wide range of fully sustainable packaging materials, including eco-friendly padded envelopes and Flexi-Hex® protective packaging that is ideal for bottles, cosmetics or fragile gifts.
How Can Online Retailers Prepare for Peak Season This Year?
Stock and Service Levels
If you haven’t already done so, September is a really good time to get your warehouse in order before the season really gets underway. Managing stock levels and offering exceptional customer service through the next few months will be crucial to meeting demand and retaining those customers into next year.
Along with great value on prices, customers will be looking for quick, inexpensive delivery and easy returns. Whilst these may be expensive and challenging to manage, hassle-free returns and convenient shipping options show your customers you care about them. Someone who first comes to you for a Christmas present and has a great experience, even if they return something, is far more likely to become a loyal, regular customer. A recent Survey from Fedex found that 96% of customers would return to a business that offered an easy returns policy.
We say it every year, but part of making sure your deliveries and returns processes are reliable and efficient, is managing your stock of packaging and despatch forms. Get your orders in early for Thermal Labels, Integrated Labels and for all your Packaging needs and avoid any hiccups in your shipping process this year.
Festive Season Marketing Plans
Have you planned your promotions yet? In 2023, Black Friday falls on 24th November with Cyber Monday on the 27th. Cyber Weekend spending was disappointing for many retailers in 2022, but this was thought to be partly to do with the timing of World Cup matches, as well as the difficult economic climate. With tighter household budgets in place, shoppers will be looking for discounts this season. Categories that are expected to do well across Black Friday in 2023 include mobile phones and tech, toys, and cosmetics. Experts are predicting a bigger push to online sales and a sales period that starts earlier into November. They also expect to see “Green Friday” initiatives that promote eco-friendly offers and a greater emphasis on personalised deals, via targeted ads and emails, based on an individual’s shopping or browsing history.
According to Retail Week, Social Media continues to have a significant influence on buying behaviour, especially for anyone younger than 40 years old. These shoppers may be more affluent and less concerned by the increased cost of living, making them an ideal audience this season. Creative online content, influencer marketing activity, reviews and quick responses to customer service queries are crucial with this group. Plan to make the most of your Socials this autumn, especially if you are in the fashion, beauty, tech, or travel sectors.
Build Your Customer Base
With privacy laws changing how we advertise to customers online, the quality of your customer data is more important than ever. Using the busy shopping period to add to your customer data, email lists, loyalty schemes and Social Media followers gives you the opportunity to remarket to those groups in future. This is a good time to make sure all your Social Media links are up-to-date, that you have systems in place to grow your mailing lists from the people who buy from you over the festive season, and that you are capturing their data correctly and efficiently so you can access and use it legitimately next year.
How Can Forms Plus Help You Get Ready for the Busy Season Ahead?
At Forms Plus we have been helping retail clients trade through the hectic festive season for over 40 years. We stock a wide range of packaging supplies and labels to meet the needs of all kinds of retailers, and a team of experienced, friendly staff who are always happy to advise on the best choices for your business.
If you want to take advantage of our bulk discounts but don’t have room to store it, our print management service will make sure you benefit from the best prices whilst we manage your stock levels and make sure you receive your print items and packaging as you require them.