Welcome to our Project Launchpad Blog Series. Here we are breaking down the tips, tricks, and tools you need to exceed your aggressive 2021 revenue goals. 

To start, let’s look back and understand what the data tells us.  

We all know 2020 was a crazy year. US ecommerce penetration as a percent of total retail sales confirms this.

If we go back to 2009, ecommerce penetration was about 6%. Fast forward a decade later to 2019, and with steady YOY growth, it increased to 10-15%. Then came the 2020 Global Pandemic, and over just eight weeks, it grew to 27%. This means, we sped up ten years in eight weeks! 

The data further shows us there were six distinct phases in 2020, and ecommerce revenue was up in all vs. 2019.


The year started +9%. With the state of emergencies declared and stay at home orders in place, it jumped almost 30%. When stimulus checks hit, we all shopped and drove revenue to its peak of +60%. During the long stretch of WFH, staycations, and virtual learning, consumers continued to spend +53%. The cyber week started the holiday season with a strong YOY comp +20% and continued through the end of the year. Don’t let +20% fool you, overall a tremendous increase pacing double the pre-COVID phase.

Consumer engagement was also up. Connecting via email and SMS was a lifeline during the Pandemic. 

Looking at email send volume, the year started flat, then a massive +70% spike happened when stores closed. Retailers and brands knew they needed to communicate via email and SMS with their customers and future customers. Send volume slowly decreased throughout the year, but was up 40% in total. 

Another data layer tells us click rates and open rates went in 2020. This means people sent 40% more messages throughout the year, and people interacted at the same level.  

Here are a few real-world examples that validate this data point. Remember, people love hearing from brands, and engagement will be high when it’s a message based on what the customer or subscriber is interested in or is browsing.

  1. A high-end automotive parts brand sent 110% more emails YOY. They've been around for two decades, and during the Pandemic, they doubled their sends. The result: almost doubled their revenue.
  1. A luxury apparel retailer +70% in email. 
  1. A leading skincare company used SMS to connect and sent +100K messages a week vs. YOY. The result: better engagement and better sales.

Holiday 2020 data gives us a look at what happened most recently. We all can agree Holiday 2020 was anything but ordinary. The usual build-up of Back to School to Halloween to Thanksgiving to Christmas didn’t exist. it was a blur – gift shopping accelerated everything – with fears of sold-out inventory and shipping snafus.

Because of this, retailers went highly promotional with their messaging strategy. This worked because it answered consumers wants - what gifts were popular, what was in stock, what avoided shipping issues. Plus it gave them a discount offer, so they felt good about spending money.

Omni-channel messaging and shopping was used by many for the first time. Retailers and brands who communicated to a single customer via a mix of email and SMS saw great results. This strategy allowed them to provide relevant information – order status updates, shipping notifications, BOPUS communications – plus add in a layer of promotions and recommendations to drive incremental revenue. Omnichannel moved ecommerce forward in 2020.

In summary the data tells us, customers want to engage. Don’t be shy, remember you need to comp 2020. Engage smartly by giving them personal and relevant information. Lastly, 2020 accelerated ecommerce like no year has done prior. Consumer expectations are now extremely high. We all need to think and plan 2021 like it’s 2025.

You can watch the full Look-back webinar video here

Continue reading and get Step #1 of the 2021 Success Plan.

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