The pandemic has changed just about everything in 2020. Holiday shopping will be different, too. Consumers want to shop using safe e-commerce options. For digital marketers, the pressure is on to up your game.

So what will holiday shopping look like this year? Google surveyed global consumers to find out about their holiday shopping plans. Here’s what you can expect:

● The upward trend in online discovery and shopping will continue. Almost three-quarters of U.S. holiday shoppers say they will shop online more than they did in the past. They’ll also be looking for gift ideas online. Last year, 78 per cent of U.S. holiday shoppers used three or more channels to do their holiday shopping. Fifty-eight per cent of purchases happened online.
● Sixty-six per cent of shoppers want to shop local. This is good news for smaller retailers — if you optimize your holiday advertising campaign to improve your rankings on local search.
● Forty-seven per cent of holiday shoppers plan to buy online and pick up their purchases at a store.

Another trend is mobile in-app shopping. According to research by customer relationship management software company Salesforce, 23 per cent of shoppers want to be able to buy from inside an app on their smartphone or other mobile device.

Here are seven tips from Postmedia Solutions that will help holiday shoppers find you in a crowded online environment:

  1. Get ready for more online traffic. Optimize your website for both desktops and mobile devices by speeding up your page loads. Google Developer PageSpeed Insights tool provides suggestions to get you started. The tool is easy to use and provides tips on how you can make it quick and simple for shoppers to find what they’re looking for on your site.
  2. Help shoppers find you. Make Google Shopping part of your holiday advertising campaign. It offers free product listings that you provide. Photos and consumer reviews give these ads extra punch. They show up in Google Search results, helping you stand out when consumers are shopping.
  3. Make sure your information is up to date. No one wants to guess if an item is available. That’s why more than two-thirds of holiday shoppers plan to confirm online that an item is in stock before going to buy it. They also want to stick close to home. Searches for “available near me” have grown by more than 100 per cent since last year.
    Google and Facebook, among others, offer services to help you make sure what you’re advertising aligns with what you have in stock. Plus, Google’s local inventory ads can help your store and products show up when nearby shoppers are searching.
    Tip: Save time and money by bringing in a partner with expertise in local search optimization (SEO), also known as local search marketing. These strategies help you rank in local searches and promote your products and services when customers are looking for them.
  4. Automate promotions and sales. Ad scheduling is a good way to get the most out of your paid search advertising budget. You can target when your ads run for the most impact. Google Ads and Facebook/Instagram offer their own versions of ad scheduling. Make sure you understand the nuances of their capabilities. Again, accuracy is key. If you’re promoting a sale, it should be on your site when shoppers show up.
  5. Don’t forget programmatic advertising. By automating the buying and selling of online ads, you can gain efficiencies, cut costs, boost ROI, collect greater insights about your customers and target the right audience at the right time.
  6. Help shoppers see what other shoppers think. Ask for, collect and showcase customer reviews this holiday season. Reading reviews is part of the buying journey. The majority of online shoppers (84 per cent) trust reviews as much as they trust recommendations they get from people they know. And almost three quarters of shoppers (74 per cent) say a positive review boosts the trust they place in a business.
    Tip: The more quality reviews on your Google business profile, the better your ranking in local results.
  7. Show shoppers your products. Invest in high-quality, real-life product photographs — a lot of them. Make sure each image caption provides different information. For the growing crowd of online holiday shoppers, it’s the next best thing to being in your store seeing and touching your products.

This year’s holiday season will feel different. Turn the challenges into opportunities. Adapt and be nimble to reach shoppers where they are and when they’re ready. If your holiday advertising reflects the new reality and consumer behaviours, you won’t miss out.