To plan for the 2023 holiday season, retailers are investing in artificial intelligence, customer service and shipping communication. Plus, a number of merchants are rethinking their return policies.

The height of the pandemic is over. The shipping and supply chain crisis is under control. And inflation is starting to wane.  

Of course, the headlines from the past three holiday seasons are the backdrop to the current retailing environment and the upcoming holiday season for businesses. But fortunately, the sense of crisis has faded for U.S. consumers. There’s not even a November election to distract shoppers.   

In some sense, the 2023 holiday season may be the most “normal” in years for online retailers. And that means opportunity to prepare your business for the holiday season and boost holiday sales.  

Prepare your business for the holiday season

According to Digital Commerce 360 research data, over the three-year period 2020-2022, the Top 1000 online retailers in North American generated $75 billion more in ecommerce revenue than they would have if pre-pandemic growth rates had continued.   


So what are retailers doing with all this extra sales revenue prior to November and to boost holiday sales? The Digital Commerce 360 August Strategy Insights, “The 2023 Holiday Planning Report,” digs into what retailers and small businesses are planning for the holiday season. A number of retailers are investing in the ever-buzzy artificial intelligence. Generative AI has taken hold of everyone’s interest, including those in the online retail industry. In “Will AI take over customer service this holiday season?” retailers discuss their investments in generative AI and how they expect it will help this holiday season.   

Communication always is key for online retailers, and especially when holiday-related purchases are in transit to shoppers. In “Keeping customers updated during the shipping process can make or break the experience,retailers share how they’ve improved their shipping communications so shoppers can be confident that their purchases will arrive when the retailer promises, or that they will immediately be notified of any issues. This is especially important as businesses prepare for the holiday season.    

And, of course, the end note to the holiday season is always returns. This year, online retailers are making their return policies stricter, shortening the window or considering making sales final. “Retailers revisit return policies ahead of the holiday season” discusses this trend and provides examples of retailers opting to enhance their return operations.  

It’s also worth noting that online holiday season sales have slowed in the past few years, according to Adobe Analytics data.   


While the 2022 holiday season brought in the largest online revenue to date ($211.70 billion in web sales in November and December, according to Adobe) that represented only 3.5% growth compared with the 2021 online holiday season.  

So while the above-mentioned investments will likely improve the customer experience, customer satisfaction and customer retention, it may not lead to meteoric online sales growth this holiday season.   

Perhaps the best way online retailers can prepare for this “normal” holiday season is with reasonable expectations of neither a boom nor a bust, but a solid season.   


To read more about how online retailers are preparing for the 2023 holiday season, download the August Strategy Insights “2023 Holiday Planning Report.”

— April Berthene, Editor, Strategy Insights