Online shopper’s holiday wish list

Retailers who create a seamless shopping experience that offers a smooth path to purchase and post-purchase will be the standouts of the holiday season.

It may still be summer, but retailers are already putting out fall decorations and consumers are more than likely already shopping for the holidays. Beyond pondering the perfect gift for a loved one, consumers are also considering where and how they’ll shop for the season. According to forecasts by eMarketer, overall retail spending will increase 4.5% to $1.3 trillion for the 2023 holiday season, with e-commerce accounting for almost 20% of sales and contributing 48.5% of incremental spending gains.

As online retailers prepare for the holiday season, they’ll need to check off the items on shoppers’ holiday wish lists — both in the products they want and the shopping experiences they expect. Three items on online shoppers’ wish lists this year deserve special attention from retailers: early deals, thoughtful pricing and customer-centric experience.

Early deals

This summer, Amazon Prime Day spurred other online retailers to hold overlapping deal events to compete. In addition to offering competitive deals on similar products, many began their promotions before Prime Day or had longer promotion periods in order to attract shoppers. Retailers like Target created their own special promotion called Target Circle Week, offering an even longer stretch of deal days July 9 to 15. Other retailers like Nordstrom, Macy’s and Wayfair had promotions of up to 50% off for an entire month.

It won’t come as a surprise to online retailers that shoppers are motivated by deals, but what they may be surprised to learn is that shoppers are expecting these deal periods earlier. Asurveyby Google showed that by mid-October, holiday shoppers globally had on average 21% of their holiday shopping complete. Waiting until Black Friday and Cyber Monday could cause retailers to miss out on a high volume of shoppers doing their holiday shopping earlier than ever. Retailers should be prepared to grab attention early and adopt an “always on” marketing approach.

Thoughtful pricing

Continued concerns about inflation and the direction of the U.S. economy have impacted consumer spending throughout the year, as shown by data fromU.S. Bureau of Economic Analysis. While the most recent data published in June showed a slight uptick in consumer spending, retailers are still expecting economic concerns will impact consumer spending this holiday season.


According to theCNBC Supply Chain Survey published in June, 71% of retailers surveyed said they are concerned the consumer will cut back on holiday spending in response to inflation. Roughly two-thirds (67%) of those surveyed expect consumers to look for discounts.

To compete, retailers will need to offer competitive pricing and discounts if they wish to attract holiday shoppers this season. Beyond slashing prices, retailers can implement creative discount strategies such as loyalty and referral programs, buy now and pay later, conditional promotions (i.e., buy three items and receive 20% off) and exclusive promo codes.

Promotions can bring in new customers, and loyalty programs help keep them coming back. Both are key to conversion, but loyalty programs have the potential to align your entire business toward the most profitable segment of your customer base. This means that your business will begin catering more to customers who have high repeat purchases or average order value – depending on what type of loyalty program you implement.

Customer-centric experience

A global survey fromMiraklshowed brand loyalty may be losing its influence over buying decisions. Only 22% of respondents say they continue to shop with the brands they trust regardless of price. This means that retailers relying heavily on loyalty need to find additional ways to deliver value to customers.


One of the best ways to deliver additional value to customers is through a strong, customer-led e-commerce strategy that includes a seamless end-to-end shopper journey both online and in-store. Customers have high expectations around personalization, omnichannel support, faster customer support, richer product experience and smoother checkout. Services like buy online, pickup in store (BOPIS) and reserve online, pickup in store (ROPIS) are opportunities for retailers to meet the needs of shoppers both online and in-store. BOPIS and ROPIS offer numerous benefits for retailers too, including reduced shipping costs, lower cart abandonment rate and increased in-store foot traffic. 

Even after checkout, retailers have the opportunity to grow loyalty with customers and keep them coming back. Astudy by FedEx found that 98% of shoppers would be willing to order from a brand again if it offered fast and convenient returns, and 56% are willing to pay for hassle-free returns. Offering buy online, return in store (BORIS) is one way retailers with a brick-and-mortar presence can make the return process easier and help customers avoid long holiday lines at the post office. At a time of year when returns are at their highest, ensuring a smooth experience for customers can build brand affinity and generate a better kind of return: a return customer.

If retailers want to fulfill their own revenue wishes, they need to think about customers’ shopping experience wish lists first. Consumers  will be shopping in-store, online and across all channels and marketplaces as they hunt for the perfect gifts for everyone on their list. Retailers who create a seamless shopping experience that offers a smooth path to purchase and post-purchase will be the standouts of the holiday season.

Meghan Stabler

About the author

Meghan Stableris BigCommerce’s senior vice president. Her background includes startup, pre- and post-IPO, turnaround and enterprise SaaS software firms. From cybersecurity to e-commerce, digital to mobile, Stablerhas touched every aspect of today’s technology landscape.