2020 Retail & E-Commerce Holiday Marketing Report

Insights from brands and consumers on how they're approaching the upcoming holiday season

Attentive’s 2020 Retail & E-Commerce Holiday Marketing Report reveals insights into how brands and consumers are approaching the upcoming holiday season, given the state of COVID-19 and its lasting impact. We surveyed more than 300 of our leading retail and e-commerce customers to understand when they plan to start holiday sales and promotions (and if they’re changing their strategies this year); how they’re approaching digital channels (including personalized text messaging); and much more. To better understand how shoppers are approaching this holiday season, we also surveyed 2,000 consumers. We learned when they plan to start shopping, how they’ll be researching and completing purchases, and what factors are motivating their decisions.

Key Takeaways

Online Revenue Soars

As we enter the second half of the year, retailers continue to see significant increases in online revenue. Over 80% of retailers surveyed reported year-over-year revenue growth in Q3, and nearly half expect to drive significantly more e-commerce revenue this holiday season compared to last year’s holiday season.

Early Start to the Season

When looking at holiday promotions, 56% of retailers surveyed said they planned to start theirs several weeks earlier than usual—in line with industry discussions that indicated the holiday shopping season would start in mid-to-late October. Shoppers were eager to take advantage of these early sales, with 59% saying they began their holiday shopping in October.

Channel Diversification

To drive record sales this season, both online and in-store, retailers are primarily investing in paid search and social, email, and text messaging as top-choice channels. Retailers have identified text messaging as a vital part of their strategy to reach mobile-first consumers.

Potential Shipping Delays

To deal with potential shipping delays, retailers are planning to have earlier shipping cutoffs, offer customers the choice of shipping providers at checkout, and encourage shoppers to place their orders sooner in the season to get ahead of delays.

Text Messaging Reliance

78% of retailers plan to send more text messages than average each week throughout November and December. Many retailers agree on one key strategy: nearly half of those surveyed plan to use their text messaging channel to treat subscribers like VIPs by sending SMS-exclusive promotions.

Rise in Mobile Reliance

This holiday season, 80% of consumers plan to use their smartphones when shopping online for gifts, with nearly half saying they’ll rely primarily on mobile. Consumers plan to do everything from completing their purchases and searching for new products to looking for discounts and tracking shipping/delivery updates via mobile.

Price-Conscious Shoppers

In the midst of a protracted period of economic uncertainty, consumers are focused on finding the best deals. 58% of consumers say that price is the most important factor while shopping online during the holidays, and 62% will use their smartphones to compare prices across different websites.

Product Discovery

Product discovery will look different this year as 90% of consumers plan to shop online this year, compared to 7% who plan to only purchase gifts in-store. More often than not, consumers will be exploring a brand’s product offerings on their phone. 68% plan to use their mobile device to browse new products.

Text Messaging Tactics


Q3-Q4 E-Commerce Sales


Holiday Season Promotions


Digital Channels




Text Messaging FAQs