Why you should prepare your web shop in time for the upcoming holidays

20 October 2023

Now that the pandemic is long past, both Belgian and Dutch consumers are once again finding their way to physical shops. Online shopping is also fully established, and well-known platforms are managing to seduce more and more consumers.  

Belgian and Dutch consumers are expected to order online significantly more often in the coming years than before 2020 — and this has not escaped the notice of many retailers. 

Even as the 2023 holiday season approaches again, many retailers are wondering what this year has in store. Besides Christmas, holidays like Black Friday, Cyber Monday, and Singles' Day are getting more and more attention in Belgium and the Netherlands. What does this mean for local retailers? We looked into it for you. 


Increase in online and hybrid shopping

Over the past three years, online shops have achieved impressive increases in their sales, even reaching notable peaks during lockdowns. Remarkably, sales continued to increase monthly, even during periods when physical shops were open.

The proximity of those physical shops appears to be an important factor, which continues to contribute to this upward trend. This is because they not only promote brand awareness, but also boost consumer confidence. Such proximity therefore plays an important role in the competition with the big players within the online retail market.

For instance, a whopping 59% of consumers admit that they like to visit physical shops to see or touch products, even if they plan to buy online — which is more than last year. An increasing number of consumers are therefore willing to shop online and even prefer an online shop to a traditional shop.

What future does the physical shop have? They're still alive and kicking, but it's important to keep combining the power of online and offline shopping. Delivering an exceptional shopping experience — by any means necessary — remains the key to success.

online shopping

Preparing for the holiday season

It's common knowledge that the shopping season for the holidays starts with Black Friday and ends with Christmas. Therefore, it's never too early to start thoughtful planning for your webshop. In mid-October last year, for instance, we saw that as many as 20% of consumers had already completed their end-of-year purchases.

So you certainly don't want to miss out on seasonal promotional opportunities or holiday deals, especially to competitors who may have already started preparations.

That's why the most important part of the holiday season is a successful campaign. We'd like to give you some tips that will help you grow your company's sales exponentially.

Gain the trust of your buyers

Online shoppers attach great importance to easy shipping. More than half of Belgian and Dutch consumers prefer shops that offer free shipping.

One way to spotlight these benefits is to add annotations in Google Search and Performance Max results — both in free and paid offers. By using annotations such as "Free delivery during Black Friday" or "Get it before 25 December", you can convince customers and win them over.

Another way to give buyers more confidence in their purchases is to indicate extended return periods for the holidays with annotations such as "90 days free returns" or "Free returns until 31 January".

online shopping

Showcase your products

Every day, hundreds of millions of people visit Google to shop and browse products. Many people don't know this, but you've been able to showcase your products for free using the Google Shopping tab for a few years now. All you have to do is sync your full product range in Google Merchant Center and enable the "Within Google's platforms" option. 

Do you still prefer to be visible above the standard search results? Then of course, as an advertiser, you will pay an amount of money based on the set budget. Shopping campaigns, which are best set up within a Performance Max strategy these days, are therefore becoming increasingly important, as most people navigate from the well-known search results. 

Goodbye Smart Shopping, hello Performance Max

By the end of 2022, Smart Shopping campaigns were phased out completely. Instead, Google introduced a new type of campaign: Performance Max. Making full use of Google's advanced AI technologies, Performance Max offers advertisers the chance to significantly increase their reach. This is done through keywordless targeting in Search and boosting additional conversions across Google platforms, such as YouTube, Display, Maps, Gmail, and Discover.

And that's not all. Advertisers who made the switch to Performance Max achieved an average increase of more than 18% in conversions at the same cost per conversion last year. So relying on Google's AI-driven tools during the holiday season becomes more important than ever.


Connect with shoppers in the physical world

Physical shopping, meanwhile, is back to normal. Yet, we see that hybrid shopping continues to grow in share. The number of searches like "Now open near me" continues to rise. So there are different ways to respond to this:

Is your physical shop open? Then make sure customers can easily find you online. Post more information about your shop and the products you offer. After all, with a comprehensive company profile, you create a sense of confidence among your customers.

Moreover, many of your customers are constantly switching between online and offline shopping. Google offers several ways to measure the impact of online ads on your physical shop, such as measuring shop visits and shop sales. It's interesting to add this data to your Smart Bidding strategy. This way, you can see which campaigns, keywords, and devices give you the most shop visits.

online shopping

Prepare for the shopping rush with these useful tools

Every year, planning your marketing campaigns for the holidays is a challenge. That's why Google offers some tools that will make your life a lot easier.

Check out the best-sellers report in Google Merchant Center to determine which new brands and/or products are best to stock for the holidays. What's more, the report also tells you the price range of a product, so you can see at a glance whether your competitors are outperforming you or not.

In addition, the insights page for Performance Max can help you analyse data relevant to your products or services. The data you see here comes from Google's entire ecosystem, based on search trends, demand forecasts, and consumer interests.

Google also gives you actionable recommendations that can immediately help you improve your campaigns. Once again, Google's AI proves how important it is to switch to automated solutions.

Google is surely not the only path to consumers

Consumers are more present than ever on all kinds of platforms. For instance, consumers still spend a lot of time on social media, so being present there is also a good idea.

Consumers, in the holiday season more than ever, get many different signals from different advertisers. So it is important to be present there, too.

If you only use one platform to target your consumers and your competitor does so on different platforms, your brand might be less top of mind. And that is ultimately what it's all about: standing out in the crowd.

Cover eindejaarsgids

The ultimate end-of-year guide

Cyber week and the end-of-year are approaching fast. There's still a lot of great opportunities to boost your sales. This guide, will help you fine-tune your communication and advertising strategy so that you can grab your target audience's attention and keep it. We will teach you how to sell through external platforms and marketplaces like Bol.com and Amazon, and how to roll out the digital red carpet for your customers.

Robbe De Vos
Robbe De Vos
Digital marketer - iO

As a member of the original Google generation, Robbe finds himself on the front row every time the world's most important algorithm starts a new chapter. As a critical user but just as good as a digital marketer. In both roles, however, privacy is something he holds in high regard - as is ethical, sustainable data.

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