Salesforce Reveals 2020 was the Biggest Holiday Season Ever for Digital Sales

Digital sales grew around 58 percent during the five days leading up to Christmas, despite earlier shipping cutoffs
$330 billion in online purchases are expected to be returned globally–about 30 percent of all purchases made

Salesforce, the global leader in CRM, released its 2020 Holiday Shopping Report, highlighting data and trends that shaped the holiday season and will impact how consumers shop in 2021. Salesforce data shows a 50 percent increase in digital spend over the 2019 shopping season, making it one of the biggest digital holiday shopping seasons to date. Consumers spent $1.1 trillion online worldwide and $236 billion in the U.S., compared to $723 billion worldwide and $165 billion in the U.S. in 2019.

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Top Salesforce 2020 Holiday Shopping Insights

Salesforce combined insights from over one billion global shoppers across more than 40 countries powered by Commerce Cloud during the holiday season—between November 1 and December 31, 2020. This season’s top highlights and trends include:

  • Digital commerce surged later in the year, despite an earlier start to the holiday season: Although retailers kicked off holiday discounts and promotions earlier in October, the bulk of this year’s digital sales were still generated during traditional shopping holidays. Total Cyber Week digital sales reached $270 billion globally and $60 billion in the U.S., while the first two weeks of December accounted for $181 billion in global sales and $39 billion in the U.S.
  • Retailers offering curbside and other pickup options grew almost twice as fast as those that didn’t: With strained shipping systems and consumers prioritizing safety, retailers with curbside, drive-through and in-store pickup options outperformed those without these services. U.S. retailers that offered these options increased digital revenue by 49 percent on average year-over-year, while retailers that didn’t only saw 28 percent average growth year-over-year. Retailers offering curbside, drive-through and in-store pickup options also experienced 54 percent digital revenue growth year-over-year in the five days leading up to Christmas, compared to 34 percent growth for those that didn’t.
  • Consumers embraced financing options: With consumers looking to pay for big ticket holiday gifts in installments, buy now, pay later usage saw a year-over-year increase of 109 percent, with the biggest increase taking place the week before Christmas.
  • Sporting Goods and Home Goods were the hottest product categories: Revenue for Sporting Goods grew 108 percent compared to the previous year, Home Goods grew 89 percent and Food and Beverage kept pace with 80 percent growth. Active Apparel (35 percent), Footwear (39 percent) and General Apparel (40 percent) experienced the least growth in revenue this holiday season.
  • Retailers brace for “returnageddon”: Over $330 billion in online purchases are expected to be returned globally—about 30 percent of all purchases made—as a result of this holiday’s ecommerce spike.

“The 2020 holiday season was defined by the pandemic and forced retailers and brands to innovate quickly with the introduction of services like curbside pickup, virtual concierges and a focus on social, messaging and live streaming to reach shoppers in new ways,” said Rob Garf, VP, Industry Strategy for Retail, Salesforce. “We expect to see these new innovations remain in 2021 with holiday strategies becoming the new standard that consumers expect from their favorite retailers and brands.”

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Salesforce Powers the Holiday Season

As the pandemic forced shoppers out of stores and into the world of ecommerce, Salesforce helped retailers around the world double down on digital as they navigated new challenges, including scaling their ecommerce operations. Between November 1 and December 31, 2020, Salesforce customers drove more than 204 million online orders on Commerce Cloud, while delivering fast, easy and personalized digital experiences to shoppers.

  • Commerce Cloud: Digital sales powered by Commerce Cloud grew 76 percent year-over-year this holiday season.
  • Marketing Cloud: Global marketing communications made through Marketing Cloud overall surged this holiday with 7.2 billion push notifications, 3.7 billion SMS messages and 129 billion total emails sent, as marketers engaged consistently throughout the season.
  • Einstein: Artificial intelligence continued to play a role in how consumers shopped this holiday season. Einstein accounted for 11 percent of digital orders, growing 25 percent year-over-year.
  • Service Cloud: Agents viewed or worked on cases more than 14.5 billion times and received more than 946 million customer service calls this holiday season through Service Cloud.

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