What will Cyber Monday look like this year? Earlier this month when Meta, a.k.a. Facebook and Instagram, laid off 11,000 employees, the company chalked up the reduction in staff in part to its underperforming e-commerce investments. Meta laid off 13% of its staff in part because of an investment in e-commerce platforms that haven't paid off. But is that bad news for online retailers? source That doesn’t mean online shopping is heading for a bust, but it could be a reflection of the wild ride e-commerce has taken since the initial lockdowns of 2020. With physical storefronts largely shuttered two years ago, customers went online to shop in droves: according to the US Census Bureau, e-commerce sales increased by a whopping $244.2 billion, or 43%, in 2020 alone. According to Shopify, that flood of new businesses shifting online in 2020 has made today’s online-selling environments more competitive than ever, which may also mean businesses had options beyond Meta for marketing their wares. Business owners themselves, when surveyed by Shopify, indicated that competition would be their biggest obstacle to growth in 2022. Is there room for everyone? That’s hard to say, but since there’s no immediate end in sight to e-commerce’s overall growth — US online sales are set to cross 1 trillion for the first time ever in 2022 — the outlook continues to be pretty rosy. Finding Holiday Season Success Online in 2022 I’m writing this article on a Wednesday in mid-November, but if you ask my inbox, Black Friday—and its e-commerce twin, Cyber Monday—have already arrived, bringing with them discount codes, social media marketing campaigns, and tempting financing offers. The stretch to and through Cyber Monday is a make-or-break time for many businesses hoping to cash in on holiday spending. Last year, Salesforce reported that US shoppers spent $13.4 billion on Black Friday, up 5% year over year, as well as another estimated $11 billion on Cyber Monday. If you’re hoping to earn a piece of this shopping rush, consider these four suggestions for how to prepare wisely for the upcoming e-commerce rush—and enjoy the results: 1. Know Their Spending Habits: Customers and Competitors With recent inflation raising consumer prices— as of September, 8.2% higher than last year’s — many shoppers are re-imagining their approach to holiday spending. And deals are welcome. Assess your competition: what online-only deals are they offering this season, and can you match them? Is there an opportunity for a BOGO or percentage discount that makes your offerings irresistible? Your own business may be feeling the pinch of inflation, too, so it’s more critical than ever to attract online shoppers to your site. 2. Diversify Your Payment Options Another pandemic-related shift in online shopping and in-person shopping alike is the proliferation of online and contactless payment options via digital or mobile wallets. More and more customers are hoping to use payment options like Venmo, PayPal, Apple Pay (which has a 43.9% mobile payment market share in the US), and beyond to check out online, as well as checkout services like ShopPay that remember a shopper’s online banking and shipping information across checkout carts. If you haven’t made checking out as flexible as possible for your customers, now is the time to do so. Buy now, pay later (BNPL) options like Affirm, Klarna, and Afterpay, among many others, are also becoming increasingly popular in 2022: according to LeadsBridge, there are around 360 million BNPL users to date, with the coveted Gen Z shopper most likely to use BNPL. eMarketer has found that “BNPL adoption rates are expected to increase from 36.8% in 2021 to 47.4% in 2025.” Especially if you're hoping to capture this demographic’s business over the holidays, make sure you have flexible payment options in place in your e-commerce store. 3. Make a Plan for a Weekend Holiday Days of the week may seem to matter less online, where you can click “purchase” 24/7/365. But receiving those products is a different story. This year, Christmas Day falls on a Sunday, with the following day counting as a federal holiday; according to USPS, that means for those 2 days, only Priority Mail Express packages will be delivered. Many customers, especially those burned by ongoing shipping and delivery delays, will be ordering gifts earlier as a result. What better time to offer free rush shipping on orders, or to put a last-day-arrival-date guarantee on your e-commerce site’s home page? 4. Find Your Customers Where They Are My email inbox isn’t the only place inundated with e-commerce holiday deals. My social media accounts are also flooded with offers…and I’ve already clicked through and browsed my fair share, sometimes without even realizing it. Whether TikTok, Instagram, or elsewhere, knowing where your customers are socializing online is a vital part of driving business, via targeted advertising, to your e-commerce store over the holiday season. Offer social-media-only deals to entice customers to shop, or partner with an influencer to get the word out about your unique offerings. The views and opinions expressed in this blog are those of the authors and do not necessarily reflect the official policy or position of Lendio. Any content provided by our bloggers or authors are of their opinion and are not intended to malign any religion, ethnic group, club, organization, company, individual or anyone or anything. The information provided in this post is not intended to constitute business, legal, tax, or accounting advice and is provided for general informational purposes only. Readers should contact their attorney, business advisor, or tax advisor to obtain advice on any particular matter.