Ecom Edit - January 2024 issue
2023 proved to be another challenging year for marketers as consumer confidence made hitting forecasts a constant challenge. Peak period helped some retailers close the gap but BFCM certainly felt different this time around, with consumers much more deliberate with how they bought.
Talk in the lead-up centred around balancing discount demand with margin protection. The result was that UK sales were up a modest 0.4% vs 2022 for the BFCM weekend, compared to +7.5% for the US. The compounding effect of 18 months of inflation has taken its toll on discretionary spending. The marginal uplift is largely thanks to rising retail prices rather than the consumers' appetite to spend more.
For those brands that partook in promotional activity, bundle discounting and discount ladders (20% off over £100, £30% off over £200) were out in full force with PitViper and Bellroy driving up large AOVs. On the flipside, many brands, particularly in Europe, chose to gaslight Black Friday in favour of leaning into their sustainability ethos or championing product quality. So much so, that the French government had their say too, actively encouraging French consumers not to participate in BFCM.
Looking at 2023 as a whole, it was a difficult year for wholesale. Zalando were down on 2022 sales (p. 8) as the rise of ethical shopping habits encouraged a shift to D2C. Brands such as Philip Kingsley lead the way by creating superior D2C experiences.
CPMs were on the rise last year across Google Ads and Meta, particularly in the US where the average CPM hit an eyewatering $13.35. With this in mind, smart marketers are allocating budget based on a better understanding of market fluctuations, as well as improved localisation of their copy and creative to tailor to different countries and genders.
As we roll into 2024, the uncertainty about shopping behaviour and global inflation remains. What isn’t in doubt though is the continued growth of eCommerce, with 1 in 5 retail purchases now happening online. China and the US unsurprisingly lead the way for global eCommerce sales, with the UK as Europe’s biggest market.
This is driven by improved martech, better omnichannel experiences and the rise of social commerce. TikTok continues to make waves and is soon to have CVRs that match Meta platforms. This demonstrates the growing trend towards a rebalance of performance and brand activity as many retailers choose to adopt a longer-term growth strategy this year.