The fourth quarter is the most lucrative time of the year for most retailers and brands–both online and offline–with a multitude of shopping festivals, deals, and promotions leading up to the end of the year. We've asked our ecommerce and marketplace experts around the world for their predictions for peak Q4 sales.
Last year peak sales patterns and trends were disrupted in various markets due to most stores being closed due to the pandemic, and while peak sales this year may not beat 2020 figures in all markets, we still expect to see a huge lift in numbers, both in-store and online, with big shopping holidays like Black Friday (White Friday in the Middle East) and Cyber Monday, as well as Singles’ Day in China being a huge driver.
For brands preparing their strategy, Pattern’s General Manager, Germany Torsten Schafer, suggested that brands steer away from using last year’s trading figures as a benchmark for predicting demand this holiday season.
We asked Pattern’s senior leadership team what their predictions for 2021 Q4 peak sales were, and specifically for the biggest day in terms of revenue.
For the Middle East, USA, and Australia, Black Friday and that Cyber Weekend (sometimes referred to as the Cyber 5) is expected to see the largest peak in sales, especially online, while in China and Europe, Singles’ Day, and December respectively, will see the largest peak.
Pattern’s General Manager for Australia Merline McGregor commented: “We’ve seen an increase in online shoppers in the past 12 months thanks to COVID-19 and store closures–59% of sessions being new. In addition to this, August 2021 saw our biggest tracked revenue month in our Benchmark Report’s history, with revenue exceeding November 2020 (the previous record holder) by 21%. This was primarily due to New South Wales and Victoria being in lockdown. If this trend continues, we’ll likely continue to see some record-breaking months ahead.”
She added: “Despite most physical retail likely to be back open by this point, I’d assume there will continue to be some hesitation around crowded shopping centers and so consumers will continue to shop online.”
Pattern's USA Director of Marketplaces George Hatch agreed that COVID variants will limit brick-and-mortar sales and some retailers will shift to being closed over the Thanksgiving holiday weekend, as Walmart is planning to be. However, Black Friday will still likely be the highest revenue day for ecommerce.
George Hatch also predicted that: “this holiday season we expect to see deals spread out rather than crammed into a single day. Black Friday and Cyber Monday will surely see the lion's share of discounts and promotions, but shoppers can expect to see deals throughout the Thanksgiving weekend and well into December, and likewise retailers should anticipate a big lift over Turkey 5–the 5 days between Thanksgiving and Cyber Weekend. We saw this trend in 2020 as the Sunday of Thanksgiving weekend saw the highest YoY growth at 113%.”
Meanwhile, General Manager MENA David Quaife predicted the White/Black Friday weekend will also see the most sales in the UAE and Saudi Arabia: “White Friday will be, and has always been, the biggest online selling period. Typically, online retailers should expect to see 3.5x increase in sales in November vs October–this may vary between pureplay and omnichannel retailers.” In the past year or two, the Middle Eastern ecommerce market has experienced sharp growth which is why he expects to see a very strong performance for the big online players this year.
Additionally, the delayed Expo 2020 Dubai will commence in October 2021 and run through to end of March 2022. The footfall to this event will provide a major boost to retail sectors with many visitors expected from outside countries such as Europe and the USA. David stated it would be interesting to see if any of these customers place online orders with Amazon.ae during their stay.
In Latin America, though Black Friday and Cyber Monday are still large festivals, Buen Fin which takes place earlier in November, usually kick-starts the shopping season in Mexico.
“Brands need to be ready by the time Buen Fin rolls around to not miss out on capturing the entirety of Mexico's shopping season. Last year, the event raked in US$11.9 billion in total revenue for both brick-and-mortar and ecommerce,” George Hatch advised.
In Europe, Torsten predicted: “This year, the biggest days for online sales could be as late as Sunday 19th and Monday 20th December, because of when Christmas falls.” Furthermore, he stated: “last year was an exceptionally strong Q4 online because of store closures, and so retailers may not achieve year-on-year sales increases online. However, they should see growth on their 2019 holiday sales–maybe as much as 25% to 50% growth on their sales two years ago if they are running an established online shop and if they have acquired new customers in 2020 who have become more confident buying online.”
In China, Singles’ Day is the biggest 24-hour online shopping festival in the world and is expected to continue being so. Pattern’s General Manager Asia, Arthur Cheung predicted: “Tmall will release the best offers seen throughout the year. However, the sales volume will be so large that it will heavily impact the speed of the fulfilment. It could take a month for an order to arrive to the customer, which is not very common in China where delivery times are usually within 2-3 days.”
And it’s not just in China where we expect to see issues with delays in fulfilment processes. Pattern’s leadership team in Europe, the USA, and China expect that retailers and brands will focus their efforts on trying to spread out sales peaks and promotions so their warehouses and delivery infrastructure can cope.
In Europe, typically Black Friday and Cyber Monday sales have been spread out over the week leading up to the shopping event and the whole week of Cyber Monday–a trend that Torsten predicted will continue. He also added: “This is a combination of retailers trying to attract spend before their competitors and retailers spreading out the peak so that their fulfilment operations can cope with the spike in demand. Last year, Amazon ran Prime Day in mid-October, but it has already taken place this year, so discounting and promotions are likely to be more focused on the Black Friday and Cyber Monday weekend, with retailers trying to maintain full price sales prior to that.”
Meanwhile, delivery delays are not expected to be such an issue in Europe and the Middle East, but there could be real issues in other regions. In the USA, Amazon has been working to improve its logistics capabilities by relying less on UPS and USPS, but George still anticipates that many products will not arrive in time for Christmas if they are bought after early to mid-December.
Similarly, in Australia it has already been advised that consumers can expect lengthy delivery delays leading up to Christmas. Therefore, Merline predicted that the majority of consumers will aim to get most of their Christmas shopping completed by Cyber Weekend, hence why she believes Black Friday will be the strongest day on the 2021 trading calendar.
Lastly, in Australia and the UAE it is expected that retailers will have lots of stock to discount that they haven’t been able to sell while stores were closed. They will likely try and discount online to get rid of product over the Black/White Friday and Cyber Monday weekend.
David expects to see a very big push from these businesses to clear a lot of that aged inventory in the month of November with deep discounts, which may then result in a big swing to online channels. Merline also mentioned that some retailers who are eager to clear stock will offer significant promotions. However, others in Australia have consistently faced stock shortages and logistics delays during 2021 and will not want to discount stock so close to the Christmas period.
Looking for more Q4 advice from industry experts across marketplaces, advertising, fulfillment, data insights, and brand protection? Get in touch with Pattern to learn how we can accelerate your brand.
Find relevant content to accelerate your ecommerce business. Stay on top of industry trends and best practices.
If you’re in the global ecommerce space, you are most likely aware of Amazon, and probably selling your products on the marketplace. With over $470 billion in sales in 2021 alone, Amazon stands as the third largest company in the world based on revenue. The ecommerce giant is a household name in the U.S. and working hard to grow its market share across five continents worldwide.
Having your products available on Amazon and being competitive there, though, are definitely two different things. If you want to really succeed on Amazon, you’ll need specialized insight into how Amazon works and how to make it work for you. So, for many brands, it’s a great idea to work with an Amazon Search Engine Optimization (SEO) agency.
At Pattern, Amazon SEO optimization service is one of our key competencies. We understand that technology, data-driven insights and expertise are the most important tools brands can leverage to win top listing spots on digital marketplaces. With expert teams and years of experience, we help brands conquer the Profitability Death Spiral as they compete with other products and sellers online. We offer Amazon SEO agency services as a core solution to brands that need more resources to get ahead.
An Amazon SEO agency serves brands by improving their products’ rank and listing performance on Amazon. They make strategic decisions about ad spending and placement that lead to higher traffic, conversions, and revenue for ecommerce brands.
A great Amazon SEO Agency partner will:
Unfortunately, many Amazon SEO agencies profit in unfair ways from your brands’ perceived success based on the ROAS numbers they provide. This is done through including branded search terms in ROAS reports, which naturally skew listing performance.
Let’s say, for instance, your brand is called “Annie’s” and you sell lollipops. Your brand has a very high likelihood of winning the top listing spots on Amazon for lollipop search terms that are paired with “Annie’s,” your brand name. So, SEO agencies will spend your ad money on those terms and report a very high ROAS.
To avoid scenarios like these, it’s best to look for an agency that either calculates their profits on metrics other than your ROAS scores or weighs branded search terms differently in the performance metrics reports. Regardless of your Amazon SEO agency’s cost structure, you should align onbranded search terms before committing to a scope of work.
A great indicator of a high-quality Amazon SEO agency is the level of insight they can provide into your competitors’ listing positioning and how it compares to yours. Data fanaticism is so important at Pattern that we’ve developed proprietary technology to display this exact information with precise detail for every brand we work with. In fact, you can find our free version here to see how you compare to some of your top competitors based on ASIN.
It’s certainly possible to improve your Amazon search performance with blind spending strategies. But a truly great solution will help you to know where your dollars are at their most powerful and competitive.
Amazon’s A10 algorithm prioritizes customer satisfaction—it wants to show consumers the best products that align with their search intent to improve conversions and sales. So, the best way to gain momentum on Amazon is to work on incremental wins.
Improving your performance on more obscure search terms that align with your customers’ search intent is a great way to increase ROAS for the long term. A10 will reward your success with better rankings on higher-volume search terms and the virtuous cycle can help you conquer your most-coveted listing spots. And the best part? This process of gaining momentum, if done right, will naturally decrease your ad spend over time as Amazon recognizes your value and works with you to keep your products at the top of consumers’ search results.
As an Amazon SEO specialist, Pattern knows how to help your brand win better success for long-term profitability on Amazon. With our data-driven tools and brilliant teams of ecommerce experts, we help brands with listing management, content optimization, Amazon ad strategies, and more.
Contact us to learn more about our SEO optimization services.