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Ecommerce Lessons from Q4: The Pandemic, the Election, and Dramatic Growth

15 Jan 2021 Anastasia Sorokina

in Digital, Google, Paid Search, Trending

Last year’s colossal brick and mortar sales declines are well known: businesses were forced to pivot to a heavy ecommerce strategy, sparking new opportunities and challenges. Many brands saw exponential digital user growth but were faced with supply chain issues, warehouse closures, shipment delays, and more. In addition, businesses had to adjust to enormous changes in consumer behavior that impacted the entire purchase journey. Despite so much change, Q4 and the holiday season remained imperative, and business objectives had to be met. At Stella Rising, we worked to exceed client goals through expert digital marketing; now, we detail our top learnings from that pivotal time.


Deloitte projected that 2020 Q4 ecommerce sales would increase by 25%-35%. Even with explosive digital growth, total sales were expected to be essentially flat to 2019, as the ecommerce increase would not make up for brick and mortar shortfall.


Many Stella Rising clients were relying on Q4 to make up for Q2 revenue losses. This meant that our teams had to be more creative and agile when thinking of solutions to aid in the most efficient way possible. We looked at our top e-commerce clients’ performance in the Beauty, Apparel, Accessories, and Luxury segments—here are the significant insights:

  • Ecommerce retail sales spiked. Across our top ecommerce clients, sales increased by 26% in Q4 2020 YoY. Thanksgiving long weekend, known as Cyber Five, saw revenue up by 28% YoY. Even without “doorbuster deals” during Black Friday, consumers searched online and converted. By channel, Google was responsible for most of the revenue for all ecommerce clients, with a healthy 35% increase YoY.


  • The presidential election impacted online shopping revenue. The presidential election was bound to bring even more uncertainty to 2020. In 2016, retail demand dropped 7% during the week of the election when comparing year-over-year but rebounded within a few days. Our team noticed a slowdown across the board during the election period with a jump in revenue during the second and third weeks of November. Google Ads revenue was flat before November 3rd and began to increase after November 16th for most ecommerce clients, regardless of their product category.
  • The pandemic pushed the start of holiday shopping earlier. Many consumers began shopping for holiday gifts earlier, concerned with shipping delays and other logistical issues. According to an NRF report, 42% of customers started their holiday shopping in early November. Furthermore, Amazon Prime Day (normally held in July) was moved to early October, really kickstarting holiday shopping in the beginning of Q4. Many brands off-Amazon offered promotions during Prime Day to inspire deal-seeking behavior; that helped overall revenue growth but changed the Cyber Five outlook. The majority of Stella Rising clients saw revenue surges later in October with a 31% year-over-year increase during the October 13th– 31st period. In addition to revenue growth, front-end metrics including ad impressions started to ramp up leading into later October as well.

Q4 2020 revenue levels - 26.3% increase from prior year:                                       


  • Black Friday exceeded expectations. Typically, ecommerce retailers see larger increases on Cyber Monday, while Black Friday drives brick and mortar growth. In 2020, clients saw a larger lift on Black Friday with an additional spike on Cyber Monday. For top Stella Rising clients in aggregate, Black Friday revenue surpassed that of Cyber Monday by 13% and increased 520% over LY.

Coming out on top for our clients: Cyber Five revenue levels 2020:


2020 was a challenging year for all; the Q4 wins our team could deliver for clients—through pivoting strategy and effective communication—ended the year on a high note. In 2021, we look forward to strengthening and maintaining relationships with key partners—like Google and Facebook—to deliver even better solutions for our clients.

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