Creative Retail Marketing Ideas For Holiday eCommerce Stores [2020]

Creative Retail Marketing Ideas For Holiday eCommerce Stores [2020]

The holiday season is almost here! Is your eCommerce site ready? Here at CAKE, we’re absolutely elated to help our customers and other eCommerce businesses gear up for what’s bound to be one of the best online shopping seasons yet.

That’s why our creative eCommerce strategy team has put together this  guide to assist you in coming up with the sweetest holiday sales strategy possible. Let’s get started.

Pay Attention to Product Selection

While it would be fun to promote everything in your product catalog all at once, it is a much better idea to select one or two products to highlight. This keeps your customers streamlined and focused on their shopping without becoming too overwhelmed.

What we’ve also seen in the past with some of our clients is that bestsellers and gift sets sell better than other items. Capitalize on this by ensuring plenty of visibility for those items on your website and marketing graphics across all channels.

And make it easy for customers to sort out the reason for buying a gift from your online store. For example, add in sorting capabilities or gift guides that feature products for recipients by age, interest level, or other demographics.

Expect an Increase in Gift Card Purchases

The COVID-19 (Coronavirus) pandemic makes this holiday season a little more unique than some. Instead of gathering in person, many families will have to send gifts to loved ones across the country. That means that the added cost in shipping those items will rack up fast, so a lot of people or opting for giving gift cards this year.

To get ready, make sure your eCommerce store is equipped to handle selling gift cards. There are tons of great apps for doing this on Shopify, so take the time to get it installed and all the technical aspects figured out.

Then add gift card marketing to your various channels like email, paid advertising, social media marketing, and more. Not only is a gift card sale easier for your team to fulfill, but it also gives your shoppers the chance to give a meaningful gift to someone they love without having to deal with hefty shipping costs.

Prepare for Shipping Changes

Speaking of shipping, it is important to note a few changes for the 2020 holiday season.

First, we already know that many carriers are now requiring a COVID-19 surcharge during prime shopping season. While this might seem like a disappointment, it is sort of par for the course as we work through this highly unusual time around the globe. Make sure you’re figuring this in as part of your retail marketing strategy if you’re offering free shipping.

Second, there are certain deadlines that you’ll want to pay close attention to. Due to the anticipated increase in order fulfillment versus in-person shopping this year, these calendar dates are a little tighter than previous years. A few key ones to keep in mind are:


  • Retail Ground: Tuesday, December 15th, 2020
  • First Class Mail: Friday, December 18th, 2020
  • Priority Mail: Saturday, December 19th, 2020
  • Priority Mail Express: Wednesday, December 23rd, 2020


  • SmartPost Services: Wednesday, December 9th, 2020
  • Ground: Tuesday, December 15th, 2020
  • Home Delivery: Tuesday, December 15th, 2020
  • Express Saver: Monday, December 21st, 2020
  • 2Day Services: Tuesday, December 22nd, 2020
  • Overnight Services: Wednesday, December 23rd, 2020


  • Ground: Friday, December 11th, 2020
  • 3 Day Select: Monday, December 21st, 2020
  • 2 Day Air: Tuesday, December 22nd, 2020
  • Next Day Air: Wednesday, December 23rd, 2020

Be Clear with Your Email Marketing

Another thing you’ll need to pay close attention to as part of your holiday marketing strategy is your email campaigns. More than ever, customers are relying on you to be as clear as possible with your messaging and all pertinent information.

What does this mean? Well, for starters, preemptively make it completely clear that shipping and fulfillment might be delayed due to the COVID-19 pandemic. Just about every eCommerce brand out there will have some sort of altered handling policy this season, so make sure you’ve thought through yours carefully.

In addition, you also want to make sure your marketing message is hitting the mark. This year, there’s a big push on personalization and located-based targeting, so it is a good idea to take advantage of this.

Offer Plenty of Incentives

Data suggests that over 30% of all purchases made this holiday season are going to be online. The major retail brands know this and offer pretty major incentives, which means you need to be prepared to compete by throwing in a few bonuses of your own.

However, don’t go with all the usual ones you would expect to hand out this time of year. Sure, gift wrapping and free shipping are great. But think about other offers like purchasing a preset order amount and getting a free gift card. Or even free one-hour curbside delivery if you have a brick-and-mortar store. Even something as simple as a ‘send as a gift’ option on your website that allows you to add a little note and a gift bow can really make a difference when someone is deciding to purchase from your store.

BONUS: Six Tips for Planning Effective Promotions

As a bonus to this guide, our CAKE team wanted to include our best tips for planning effective promotions. Here are a few ideas to consider:

  • Determine Your End Game: What is most important for this holiday shopping season? Is it increased purchases from new or existing customers? Are you trying to get rid of an excess of inventory before the end of the year? Do you want to push a new product? Get clear on your goals as you plan out your holiday promotions.
  • Dive into the Data: Look at past marketing data and decide the channels you want to focus on. Identify audiences that you want to craft your overall marketing message to.
  • Spy on the Competition: Review the latest promos and offerings from other stores in your industry. Use these as inspiration for your own marketing messages, but don’t outright copy them.
  • Shape Your Incentive: Decide the shape your desired offer will take to reach your target customer. Is it a promo code? Free gift? Special offer? Or a combination?
  • Get Creative: Use consistent messaging paired with eye-catching graphics, videos, and copy across all marketing channels.
  • Set Objectives and Goals: Know what you want to achieve and map out how you plan on getting there with your holiday promotions.

Feeling a Little Lost? Check Out Our eCommerce Consulting Services!

It’s perfectly normal to look at a guide like this and feel a little lost. A lot goes into planning your holiday marketing promotions, and having your eCommerce CRM strategy worked out ahead of time is very important.

The good news? You don’t have to tackle it alone. Our CAKE team is super excited to help our customers create successful and fun marketing promos for Black Friday, Cyber Monday, and all the other shopping days leading up to the end of the year.

Ready to learn more about what we can do? Please contact our team of eCommerce marketing strategists today for further details.