The holiday shopping season seems to begin earlier every year. And retailers need to be prepared as it’s one of the most critical shopping times for them and their customers.

“U.S. retailers should review the lessons learned from the 2020 pandemic-era holiday season to gauge consumer sentiment and demand to plan their marketing, fulfillment and more,” writes Fiona Swerdlow, vice president, research director at Forrester Research, in ‘The 2021 Holiday Planning Guide” by Forrester.

Last holiday season—November through December 2020—U.S. shoppers spent $201.32 billion online, up 45.2% from $138.65 billion in 2019, Digital Commerce 360 estimates. That’s more than triple the year-over-year growth rate during the holidays for the year prior, when web sales grew at a rather sluggish 13.6%. COVID-19-related shifts in buying behavior translated into an additional $41.54 billion in digital revenue for November-December, according to Digital Commerce 360.

Plus, 59% of consumers said they bought more gifts online during the 2020 holiday season compared with buying in stores and 45% said they bought most of their holiday gifts online, according to the survey. Digital Commerce 360 and Bizrate Insights conducted their annual survey of 1,137 consumers in January 2021.

Thus, with lots of dollars up for grabs, it’s imperative retailers can handle a holiday shopping season that’s shifting back towards normal while still being impacted by the after-effects of the pandemic. Forrester’s report outlines four tips for retailers to consider that encompass the entire ecommerce experience.

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