It’s the messiest time of the year, at least when it comes to ecommerce. With the COVID-19 pandemic continuing to affect businesses, supply chains, and inventory across the globe, this year’s holiday season is projected to look a bit more chaotic than years past. Stockouts in major categories are anticipated to be one of the biggest issues for holiday 2020 ecommerce for both consumers and brands.
Pattern conducted an analysis over the past 90 days to determine which Amazon categories are currently experiencing inventory stockouts and which are most likely to experience stockouts this holiday season. Considering the substantial consumer behavior shifts in 2020, we share what we’ve learned for brands and consumers alike so they can prepare for what to successfully sell and purchase this 2020 holiday ecommerce season on Amazon.
What makes this holiday season a cocktail of uncertainty is the additional factor of shifting consumer behavior due to the pandemic. In August, Fluent forecasted a 73% increase in consumers who shop exclusively online this holiday season.
Additional data from Qubit indicates that consumer loyalty is on the decline, with 36.6% of consumers saying they now shop with more brands than they did a year ago and 46.2% saying they are less loyal to the brands they love.
Much of this data is due to supply chain interruptions and inventory stockouts at the start of the pandemic that pushed consumers to other brands, and with the potential for a big second COVID-19 wave looming, it’s more important than ever to get your inventory in before the holidays.
We’ll start with the safe items. The following categories are those least likely to experience inventory shortages during the 2020 holidays:
Tech manufacturers in particular have done a good job of keeping their items in stock and available to consumers this year, and the data shows things like chargers, computer monitors, and laptop accessories are pretty safe.
There are some outliers within these categories. Car seat covers, protective gear, and accessories, for example, are expected to see stockouts in the automotive category.
‘Tis also the season for strumming. Another exception in this category are guitars. Guitars are selling fast and the instrument most likely to see inventory shortages in the music category for holiday 2020. That’s one you’ll want to get ahead of now.
Here are the categories you’ll want to pay close attention to for holiday 2020 on ecommerce. They’re the most likely to experience widespread stockouts during the holidays:
Within these categories are several subcategories especially at risk. We’ve broken some of them down below.
Some items that will be especially difficult to get your hands on as the 2020 holidays approach are ice makers, refrigerators, and freezers. With the colder months approaching, along with fears of a second wave of the pandemic, emergency preparedness is on many consumers’ minds and they’re buying these products early to make sure they have lots of space to store their perishable food products.
Aside from refrigerators and freezers, ranges, range hoods, ovens, and cooktops are also experiencing stockouts right now that are expected to stretch into the holidays. Small appliances, like toasters and microwaves, are also on the move.
2. Home & Kitchen
Shoppers have been buying lots of home and kitchen products as stay-at-home orders have been prolonged, and that trend will continue into the 2020 holidays on ecommerce. With the extra time at home and the additional challenge of having to create workspaces at home, consumers are refurnishing their houses in large numbers. Furniture is seeing shortages right now that are expected to continue through the end of the year.
Shoppers are also making their outlets and tech go further while they’re working from home. Cords, adapters, and multi-outlets are also experiencing shortages right now.
People are investing more in their outdoor patio spaces this year. Patio furniture and accessories as well as doormats are also experiencing stockouts. Another subcategory that’s a hot commodity now is bedding. Right now, consumers are trading out their coverlets for comforters as sweater weather arrives.
This was true for March and April, and it will be true throughout the rest of the year: all-purpose cleaners are experiencing shortages. The impending flu and cold season combined with COVID-19 are once again driving customers to buy health and household goods. A notable exception is vitamins and supplements, which are unlikely to go out of stock.
Clothing had a fairly rocky start of the year, excluding items like pajama pants and shirts, but purchases are picking up as people have slowly begun to leave their houses more. The men and boys categories in particular are expected to have holiday stockouts. Bra and underwear sales have seen unusual spikes as the summer’s come to an end, with lingerie in particular experiencing stockouts right now.
4. Office Products
With social distancing measures still in place, more and more consumers are getting crafty and communicating the old fashioned way. Greeting cards and card stock are seeing big stockouts right now, possibly because shoppers are sending more get well cards. With families spending more time apart this year and Christmas card season peeking right over the horizon, you’ll want to make sure your card inventory is stocked early. Cards are going to go fast.
Additional products we’re seeing shortages of are binders and paper.
5. Sports & Outdoors Equipment
Twenty-twenty is the year of the at-home workout, and early inventory indicators show that strength training equipment is very likely to see stockouts this holiday season as customers continue to beef up their home gyms. In addition to strength training equipment, consumers are also buying yoga related equipment in large numbers, so make sure to hop on that early, too.
Additional products seeing shortages in this subcategory right now are sports and outdoors clothing, water bottles, and fan-related goods, like jerseys and t-shirts.
6. Baby Products
Baby products have been seeing a higher spike in stockouts this fall. That’s possibly due to more family planning happening during COVID-19. Blankets and swaddling are low in inventory as well as baby bedding, diapering, pacifiers, sippy cups, and activities/entertainment for babies. You’ll want to start now to make sure your baby inventory is pretty well-stocked across the board.
7. Beauty & Personal Care
While most beauty subcategories have struggled with sales in 2020, there are some exceptions. Shampoo and conditioner are experiencing stockouts right now. Another item flying off the shelves is nailpolish. That’s one product to look at right now instead of waiting.
8. Pet Supplies
Pet supplies are generally safe. However, as more people are buying pets and spending more time at home with their pets, pet beds and pet furniture are experiencing stockouts. Those are the items to look at in the pets category.
The trick to doing well on ecommerce this 2020 holiday season may just be to stay ahead with your inventory. Pattern’s proprietary software can help brands forecast demand and avoid stockouts and missed sales. To learn how Pattern can help your business succeed this holiday season and beyond, contact us in the form below. Check out our holiday to-do list for Amazon sellers to learn more.
Methodology For this analysis, we took a sample of about ~70K of the current most popular products on Amazon, as measured by rank. This plays out to be about 4,000 products for every major category on Amazon. We used the Keepa database to pull product information and look at historic stockouts in the past 90 days for these products. We then aggregated stockout rates at general category levels as well as subcategories within those general categories.
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Peak season is almost upon us and with all signs pointing to it starting earlier than ever, with Christmas gifting searches now ramping up in August and September, it’s time to start preparing for peak. In this article, we’re sharing our top five tips for planning and preparing for peak season with Google Ads and the strategies required to get your Paid Search ready so you can drive success over this crucial period.
In 2021, gifting search terms started increasing in popularity in August. The general trend is that people are looking, researching and weighing their options early, so it’s best to start your Paid activity early to ensure that you’re capturing that early research traffic. This will help drive revenue alongside aiding those consumers who are in their research phase.
From 2020 to 2021, spend during Cyber Week actually only rose 2% but in the weeks leading up to it, it increased by 16%. However, Cyber Week is still the biggest period during the latter half of the year, accounting for 23% of all online spend by consumers over peak. Being prepared and starting early will help you to maximise your time during this period.
According to Google, 48% of global consumers have stopped buying or using a service due to privacy concerns. Privacy is front of mind when consumers are shopping online and we know that Google is phasing out 3rd party cookies in 2023. This is going to make it much harder to track users online and it’s something that brands need to think about this now – waiting isn’t an option.
From a Google Ads point of view, you want to ensure you have set up the Google Ads tag across your site and have enabled ‘Enhanced Conversions’, which ensures all conversions are tracked and allows you to monitor other actions such as ‘Add to Cart.’ This is relatively easy to set up, especially if you use ‘Google Tag Manager’.
It’s also vitally important that you build up your first-party data during this time as this is data you own and it can be used when targeting consumers that have provided your brand with their email address. Pattern’s own experience shows that by segmenting and using first-party data, you can see a 10% improvement in revenue and ROI.
A full-funnel approach is now more important than ever as consumers become more discerning and have more choices than ever of where to shop.
Pattern has seen success with Google Ads’ ‘Discovery Campaigns’ (image-based ads that appear on Google platforms such as Gmail and the Google app), which have driven success both from a traffic and revenue perspective.
The performance of these campaigns is significantly enhanced by adopting a segmented and nuanced approach to first-party data and incorporating these into your campaigns. Other options for a full-funnel approach include YouTube and testing bidding on keywords that are more representative of the research phase. (e.g. ‘best baby clothes’ for a baby clothes brand)
Earlier this year, Google announced that they were moving away from Smart Shopping and launched Performance Max. This is a new campaign type that incorporates features and placements from Smart Shopping but expands them onto other platforms such as Gmail but also alternative creative options, such as images and videos.
Since Google has already started automatically upgrading Smart Shopping campaigns to Performance Max, expect to see some fluctuations in the first 2 weeks following the switch over but results generally seem positive. We recommend upgrading sooner rather than later to limit any potential impact to peak period.
Peak period will be even more competitive than in 2021 and you’ll need your budgets to support this period, we recommend boosting budgets in October to start capturing that early peak traffic. As we enter November and the Cyber Period, start early and make sure you are capturing those consumers looking for early bargains, ensuring you are being nimble in your optimisations and reacting to the data that you are seeing.
Overall, peak period is vital to help drive your sales and by preparing early, you will see strong results and drive success for your brand. If you want to discuss how your brand can navigate this next peak period, contact us to discuss your options with our performance team now.
Entering the ecommerce landscape is a huge undertaking for any brand—it usually requires a large investment in resources and expertise to really be successful. Any brand can quickly get in over their heads trying to navigate the nuances of SEO, fulfillment and logistics, distribution control, listing optimization, and meeting the numerous other requirements and administrative tasks to show up well on marketplaces.
Unfortunately, because it’s so easy for third party, gray market, and unauthorized sellers to obtain and sell products online, many brands find themselves pressured to execute an ecommerce plan without the right resources to succeed on marketplaces and their other channels.
So, for brands looking to enter the ecommerce space or improve their current and future performance, it makes sense to partner with an ecommerce consultant.
Pattern’s global presence and proven success with hundreds of brands has allowed us to develop highly effective ecommerce consulting services. We can guide your brand to navigate issues both large and small in marketplaces worldwide. To maximize your ecommerce efforts, you’ll need to understand what an ecommerce consultant does and how to select one who drives the right value for your brand and products.
An ecommerce consultant is a specialist in the ecommerce space who can give you personalized guidance on how to market your products and grow their presence on digital marketplaces.
An ecommerce consultant should be able to analyze your brand, audience, category, opportunity, and current roadblocks and help you understand how to utilize your resources (or what resources are missing) to be most effective in capturing your opportunities in the ecommerce space.
Not sure how to evaluate a consultant? Here are 4 key attributes to look for as you make your choice.
At Pattern, we prioritize brand obsession for a reason—we know that a brand-centered mindset makes a crucial difference in the outcomes and results our partners achieve. So in our experience, when you begin your search for an ecommerce consultant, it’s important to look for a partner who is specialized in ecommerce, invested in the product, and passionate about helping brands build and improve their strategies. Typically, this means finding someone that consults exclusively for ecommerce marketplaces, rather than choosing a consultant who offers many different services.
It’s also important to avoid choosing a consulting partner who can’t deliver the right experience for your brand. The best indication of whether your potential consultant can do that is to review their history, data, and results with other brands. Ask if they’ve helped others in your selling category, if they’ve solved specific issues your brand is facing, and why they feel you are a good fit. The key is to leave the conversation feeling confident that you understand your consultants’ capabilities and whether or not they match up with your needs.
It’s best to pick a consultant who knows how to guide a brand onto and through multiple marketplaces worldwide. You’ll want to take a look at your long-term strategy and think about the regions and platforms you’re currently on and where you might want to take your brand in the future. If your consultant is truly great at what they do, they’ll be able to help you perform well enough with your current product roadmap that it’ll be a no-brainer to expand your presence at the right time.
The most effective partnership with an ecommerce consultant will be able to give you both recommendations and point you to solutions for making those changes in your planning, processes, and execution. Your time and money is valuable, so you want to make sure that you’re spending it as efficiently as possible as you follow your consultant’s advice. So, before you commit to an ecommerce consultant, ask about the resources and concrete solutions they typically recommend to the brands they work with.
Finding an ecommerce consultant that checks the boxes can be a difficult task. At Pattern, our entire focus and drive centers around giving brands the tools and resources they need to succeed on domestic and international ecommerce marketplaces.
With over 100 global ecommerce consultants across 10 global offices, we have the right tools to partner with brands across the world to achieve better ecommerce success. We give specialized advice, then make sure our partners have all the adequate SEO, social media, CRM, Amazon multi-channel fulfillment services, and ecommerce outsourcing services they need.
Interested in ecommerce consulting services? Set up a call here to learn what Pattern can do for your brand on global marketplaces.