Labor Day is usually seen as the last big “hurrah” of the summer. A time for Americans to go on one more camping trip or have friends and family over for a big backyard BBQ before the kids return to school and cooler weather sets in.
It’s also a weekend when Americans look to do some shopping. In 2018, Americans spent $2 billion online on Labor Day, stocking up on everything from furniture to clothing to appliances and more.
Last year, however, brought a different approach to Labor Day shopping. According to our previous research, for example, back to school items saw demand drop during Fall 2020 compared to 2019.
So we dove deep into our data to learn more about how COVID-19 impacted online demand for some of the categories most associated with Labor Day sales in 2020, how things are trending in 2021 so far, and what that might mean for the future.
First things first, let’s take a look at online demand from 2020 through this summer in a handful of the categories most associated with Labor Day purchases to see if the holiday moves the needle.
We started by examining the online demand for those categories during the week of Labor Day and comparing it to the average weekly demand throughout the rest of 2020. Here’s what we found:
It seems that plenty of people turned to online shopping to get their hands on some non-white shoes last year. From our pool of categories, shoes got the biggest Labor Day bump with a 21% increase in demand compared to the typical week during the rest of the year.
Labor Day week was the 12th biggest week of the year for shoes, making it a solid holiday for shoe sales, but definitely not peak shoe season.
The same was true for most of the other categories we examined as well. Labor Day brought solid if not astonishing increases in online demand, usually around a 10% increase over the average week.
Only outdoor games and activities saw a dip in demand, as Labor Day weekend is most likely a holiday when people bust out the cornhole and bocce ball sets they bought during the spring for one final game of the summer.
For a clearer picture, here’s how 2021 looked for each of the above categories.
Most of these categories experience their largest increases in demand during the summertime. By the time Labor Day rolls around, demand is still above the annual average, but well below previous high points.
Furniture and patio furniture both experienced their high points during the late spring and early summer. Camping and hiking equipment saw demand at its highest from June through the end of August, while shoes experienced even more dramatic highs during that same timeframe.
Outdoor games and activities, meanwhile, saw demand spike in the weeks immediately following lockdown, as Americans were eager for new forms of at-home entertainment. Interestingly, this is the only of these categories where the holiday shopping season brought a substantial boost in demand.
Either way you look at it, though, Labor Day wasn’t a major driver of online demand. It could be that Americans were more eager to do some in-person Labor Day shopping last year after spending a significant portion of the year in lockdown, or it could be that Labor Day simply isn’t the online shopping holiday that others are.
Still, looking at these trends got us curious about how these categories are looking so far in 2021. Has the COVID-19 pandemic had long-lasting repercussions on demand for shoes or camping gear? And how might those trends impact demand during Labor Day weekend this year?
Last year, the pandemic had a clear impact on demand for each of the categories in our analysis. Furniture, patio furniture, and outdoor games all saw demand spike at the start of lockdown as people found themselves stuck at home for the foreseeable future.
Both shoes and camping/hiking equipment saw demand drop in the initial weeks of lockdown, only to rebound in a big way later in the summer.
So how has 2021 compared so far? Is demand up even more as things have reopened? Has the delta variant surge over recent months had any impact?
Let’s start with a broad look by comparing all of 2021 so far to the same timeframe in 2020.
It looks like the more things reopened this year, the more Americans decided they needed a new pair of shoes to venture out in. Online demand for shoes is up a whopping 157% in 2021 so far compared to the same timeframe in 2020.
Each of the categories in our analysis has seen demand up in 2021, though. Online demand for outdoor games and activities has been up 10% in 2021, while each of the other categories has experienced a nearly 30% increase.
For an even clearer picture, let’s next compare monthly demand for the past three years for each of the above categories.
Comparing monthly demand in 2021 to what we saw in 2020 and in 2019 will help paint a much clearer picture of how the long term effects of the pandemic have impacted consumer behavior. So let’s start with demand for shoes, which we in the previous section has been up big this year.
2021 saw online demand skyrocket in March, which during a pre-pandemic year was far from the height of shoe shopping season. Our best guess is that this may have been due to the initial rollouts of the vaccine, as more and more Americans began to venture back out after a year practicing social distancing.
After a brief dip in April, demand shot back up in May and has remained consistently high throughout the summer. We will definitely be keeping a closer eye on this category as the back to school shopping season closes and Labor Day weekend approaches.
Now let’s take a look at online demand for both indoor and outdoor furniture.
During a pre-pandemic year, online demand for furniture was remarkably consistent. It rose slightly over the spring and summer, and was slower during the winter months.
In 2020 we saw a huge surge in online demand for furniture after millions of Americans spent a month or two isolating at home, many clearly decided to invest in some new furniture to spruce up their surroundings.
Interestingly, 2021 also saw a surge in online demand for furniture early in the year, this time in March. The driving force behind this one is less clear than in 2020. Perhaps people were preparing to host in-person gatherings at home.
Either way, demand in 2021 has remained above 2020 levels every month of the year so far, although at diminishing levels each month. Patio furniture and accessories have seen a very similar trend to their indoors counterparts.
As you’d expect, a normal year saw online demand for patio furniture peak even more during the summer months. This trend was particularly exaggerated in 2020, again, likely due to more Americans than ever spending almost all of their free time at home.
2021 has also seen online demand stay consistently higher than in 2020, particularly earlier in the spring. This may simply be due to people getting more used to making larger purchases online after last year, or it could be that even more people were interested in upgrading their backyard lounging situation to prepare for some huge post-lockdown parties.
Camping and hiking equipment may not have had the same kind of total increase in 2021 that shoes experienced, but there’s no question that Americans are venturing out in big numbers this year.
2020 saw demand dip somewhat during the first months of lockdown, but rebound to slightly above 2019 figures during the summertime. 2021, meanwhile, has been nothing but a consistent month-over-month increase in online demand for camping and hiking gear.
Our analysis of camping gear back in May showed early signs that 2021 was going to be a big year for the category, and that certainly hasn’t changed. In fact, August was the biggest month of the year for camping and outdoor gear back in 2019, so there’s no reason to believe that this month might be the biggest month for the category yet.
We’ll be keeping a close eye on each of these categories and more as the summer comes to a close and Labor Day weekend comes and goes.
Our data shows that Labor Day weekend may have only a moderate impact on online demand for key categories, but that COVID-19 has had a major impact.
Understanding the factors that influence consumer behavior can help brands better understand how to forecast demand for their products on online marketplaces, and even inform product design and marketing strategy.
For example, we may see Labor Day weekend continue to be a more modest weekend when it comes to online sales, as Americans have spent this past summer online shopping for new shoes and camping gear.
It could be, however, that last year was an anomaly, and that Labor Day weekend may drive a surge in online sales for some of these key categories.
To stay up to date on consumer behavior and ecommerce news, info, and trend analyses, be sure to subscribe to Pattern Insights on the right.
And, if you’d like to learn more about how you can best leverage our data to help your brand win online, holiday or not, schedule a demo today.
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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.
If you’re interested in expanding your brand internationally, you’re probably familiar with Tmall. Tmall is Asia-Pacific’s (APAC) largest marketplace, and indisputably the biggest ecommerce powerhouse in the world. It represents a huge opportunity for many brands, but entering the space is also a big challenge to take on.
At Pattern, we recommend brands looking to enter international markets should first focus on dialing in their domestic presence. Once you’re satisfied that your brand is well-represented and optimized locally, you’re ready to think about tackling new regions, like APAC, and launching on marketplaces like Tmall. Our top advice for entering Tmall is to understand and strategize around its three most important metrics: service, delivery, and content.
Service, delivery, and content ratings are the three elements that make up Tmall’s Detailed Seller Rating (DSR) score. Each component is scored on a scale of 1-5 that is displayed publicly on your brand’s Tmall flagship store page. This is meant to help consumers decide whether or not to purchase your products.
DSR scores are important because they’re highly influential in driving conversions—customers see DSRs as a way to quickly understand if a brand is trustworthy and worth buying from. They also matter quite a bit to Tmall itself—they monitor these scores and will take action to close flagship stores with low scores.
Let’s go over each element of the DSR score and some steps you’ll need to take to achieve high ratings.
Service is a huge ecommerce component in APAC marketplaces. In most other regions, product listings are static, and consumers use content and reviews to make a decision about what to purchase. On Tmall, consumers want to interact with your brand and test its validity before buying—each transaction takes at least one human interaction to convert.
So, to get a great service rating, you’ll need to have a large, established customer service team dedicated to Tmall sales that can offer real, human touchpoints and very fast response times. To get an idea of the speed your agents should be capable of producing, in our Tmall benchmarking exercise, 92.5% of brands’ customer service agents replied to queries via live chat within 30 seconds, 5% replied within one minute and the remaining 2.5% of brands took longer than a minute. So, look for a Trade Partner (TP) that has enough resources to compete with those numbers, support your sales, and maintain a good DSR score.
Another thing you’ll really want to focus on is a high-quality delivery experience for consumers. As in other regions around the world, Tmall consumers have high expectations for their delivery experience. In our Chinese consumer polling report that targeted consumers buying from Tmall Global, we found that 6% expected same-day delivery, 15% expected next-day delivery, and 46% expected 2-5 day delivery.They want to receive their products fast and they want the products to be undamaged and pristine upon arrival.
So, to achieve a high score for your delivery capabilities, we highly recommend partnering with a TP or ecommerce accelerator like Pattern (which serves as a TP) who has the ability to facilitate your distribution. Make sure your TP has the right infrastructure in place to support high-quality logistics experiences for all of your consumers—they should have an established, well-oiled delivery process in place and the capability to fluidly add you to their current fulfillment system.
As in every digital marketplace, content is a huge component of the decision-making process for consumers on Tmall—they can’t touch your product with their hands or see it in person before buying, so it’s important they’re empowered to make a good decision on whether or not to purchase based on the videos, images, and copy.
The goal is to make all of the content and relevant information on your flagship site easily-accessible—consumers should be able to visit your page and make a decision about whether or not to buy without navigating to a new site/page and taking their conversions with them. Images with text and extensive product details are a great way to do this, as well as making sure your service team can speak to all aspects of your product with any consumers (via text or chat).
As the world’s foremost brand partner for ecommerce acceleration, Pattern truly understands the significance of international expansion. With regional offices around the world, Pattern knows how to successfully launch and grow brands on Tmall and other marketplaces, with the data, insights, and marketplace intelligence to build the metrics that matter.
It’s important to have a fantastic brand presence, a knowledgeable guide, and a clear go-forward strategy for your best chance at success. With our in-country resources, expert teams, and extensive experience in growing brands around the globe, Pattern can help you get there.
Set up a call to get your international expansion strategy in motion.