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Make it Big Podcast: Cyber Week 2021 Trends and Insights from a Record Holiday Season

Welcome to The Make it Big Podcast, a bi-weekly audio series about all things ecommerce by BigCommerce.

In this episode, join experts from BigCommerce as they analyze retail trends from Cyber Week and the 2021 holiday shopping season.

BigCommerce’s VP of Product Marketing Meghan Stabler and Director of Content Marketing Melissa Dixon discuss the unique global economic factors impacting the broader ecommerce landscape this season.

How did retailers overcome these challenges for a record Cyber Week? Read on for critical takeaways on what this means for ecommerce in 2022 and beyond. 

All episodes of The Make it Big Podcast are now available on SpotifyApple and Google.  

The Make it Big Podcast: Episode 12

Melissa Dixon: I want to set the stage with some of the challenges that merchants were seeing this holiday season. What were some of those biggest challenges from your perspective, and how did those play out during Cyber Week?

Meghan Stabler: “Let’s talk a little bit about Cyber Week, because I think Cyber Week is going to become a misnomer. There was certainly going to be the Black Friday deals and the Cyber Mondays, but technically, if you’re a merchant watching this, you probably did it yourself — you started promoting in October.

We started to see promotions happening from merchants to their customer base in October, so it’s, I think, changing from Cyber Week to sort of a cyber hybrid, monthly, weekly thing that’s going to be happening going forward, so it’s a little bit of a misnomer.

But you’re right, there were some challenges, and I think everybody really knows what those challenges were.

The supply chain is probably the biggest one for me, beyond the pandemic….but, the reality is — the pandemic impacted supply chain, so there were shortages.

But I do think merchants pivoted on that. Whether they were including drop-shipping or amplifying the stock that they had, they then used that to go ahead and start promotions early. And they also started to use the idea around promotions as far as ‘FOMO’ — the fear of missing out.

Then there’s been the carrier surcharges on shipping. There’s a lot of different shipping methods, so it’s making sure, ‘Am I paying a fair price for that product? Is it going to arrive at my doorstep in a time that is convenient for me?’. And if I’m shopping ahead, hopefully it is going to go ahead and do that.

So I think these are things that we are getting used to either as merchants or as shoppers at the end of the day.”

MD: What do you think will happen as far as sales spreading out more and more over the longer holiday season? Should merchants still be banking on Cyber Week moving forward?

MS: “I think so, because that can bring you the hype that you need. People like to have a firm date when something is going to happen, so working toward a Cyber Monday or a Black Friday or Cyber Week in general is something that shoppers have become accustomed to. So I don’t think it’s going to go away, I just think that it’s going to spread out.

This is a new world. We don’t know what to expect. But button up your supply chain, make sure that your distributors and suppliers have inventory or capability to provide you with some so you can continue to grow. 

Start to plan for what is in the psyche of the customer. Last year I talked about hyper-personalization. Know everything you can about Melissa Dixon — what she likes, what she loves, her size, what things she tends to buy more of. Maybe there are things on a cycle, so add a subscription model to it.

Start to think about how Melissa likes to purchase. Is it through other things like SMS and retail and one-click touch checkout and stuff like that? So that was the hyper-personalization.

“Now I think we’re into the psyche of ecommerce personas, and it’s how do we really connect to that individual in a way that makes them want to buy now?

MD: What’s your advice for how merchants can really ramp up their omnichannel strategies for 2022 to better meet customers and shoppers where they are?

MS: “Certainly it’s so easy nowadays to connect to somebody and sell to them on TikTok or Instagram or Facebook or any myriad of other shopping experiences that are out there, because the objective that you and I have as a merchant — and this is what we enable with the BigCommerce platform — is for you to connect to Melissa where she is in the moment right now. In that psyche that I talked about. Where she’s got the FOMO of missing out.”

“You want to be able to capture and convert, and that’s all that the game is about.”

MD: We know during Cyber Week for BigCommerce, our merchants saw a 39% increase in Buy Now, Pay Later (BNPL) solutions. It’s just one more way of how retailers can respond to changes in consumer shopping habits. Consumers want that convenience.

MS: “I think it’s also beyond convenience. It’s the fact that we’re living in a very strange economic world right now, right?

So I think part of it is people want to feel good and be able to purchase gifts. And if they can stagger their own payment, and manage their expenses over a period of time — that’s when BNPL can come into it, right?

It’s going to help them get that momentary thrive of getting that good and then having to pay for it in three or four installments.

So there’s a ton of benefits — not really coming out of Cyber 5, but really coming out of how ecommerce has evolved over the past 22 months since COVID technically hit and shut down a lot of places in March of 2020. There’s a lot of cool technology that’s come along that has really been adapted for, and then adapted by, the shoppers at the end of the day.”

MD: If you had to distill it down to those key takeaways for merchants, what do you really think they should focus on? What are you anticipating for 2022?

MS: “If you’re not mobile-ready, be mobile-ready. If you are not offering convenience, do it.

Whether it’s one-click checkout, BNPL. Whether it’s looking at how can you best show what you sell in different formats, meaning AR/VR. I think it’s adapting to use things like social commerce channels, as well. It is understanding the psyche of the shopper and where they are.

But I think the cool thing about BigCommerce for me is what we are building for 2022. It’s a platform that is built for growth regardless of the size of the merchant. It’s a platform that is built for integration.

We talked about BNPL and payments and shipping and AR/VR and all these other things. It’s built to allow you to snap and connect some of these other partners that we have in our ecosystem so that you can begin experimenting.

That’s one of the things the BigCommerce platform is built for. It’s built for flexibility, it’s built for building out unique experiences for your shoppers. And you’ve got literally a toolbox of all the things that you need to make yourself successful.”

For more insights, discover BigCommerce’s full 2021 Cyber Week Trends Report and stream full episodes of The Make it Big Podcast on SpotifyApple and Google.

Krystin Gresham avatar

Krystin Gresham is a Content Marketing Manager at BigCommerce where she focuses on thought leadership content. Krystin holds a BBA in Marketing from Texas A&M University. With a background in both retail and tech, Krystin enjoys staying up on the latest retail and technology trends in the ecommerce industry. When she's not crafting content, Krystin enjoys traveling with her husband and volunteering with the Junior League of Austin.