2016 holiday shopping season review

It’s over. No, not the world. But for all intents and purposes, the 2016 holiday shopping season is. In our Holiday shopping trends for a successful 2016 post, we scoured the interweb for what to expect this holiday shopping season.

Did they go boom or bust and what does it all mean? That’s precisely what we’re here for: enjoy!

Amazon is still the king of the jungle

The biggest online day, Cyber Monday reached its biggest day ever with $3.3 billion in sales…most of that went to the jungle and almost half of shoppers explored Amazon in the weeks leading up to Christmas. Nothing more to say here, let’s move on.

Singles’ Day experiences growing pains

While Amazon may be king of the jungle, Alibaba gets to be king for a day. The main beneficiary of Singles’ Day reported another record breaking sales day with a with a 32% increase to the tune of $17.79 billion.

But there are some growing pains for both Alibaba and Amazon: The Chinese consumer organization CCA cried foul on both, claiming that they inflated prices just before the sales day to make discounts look larger. Ouch.

Shoppers were virtually on the move

Amazon, Alibaba, what’s going on here? eCommerce. Brick-and-mortar continues to crumble into dust under the heel of the internet. Fine, a little dramatic but we can both agree it is struggling for breath.

We’ve already seen what happened for Singles’ Day in China but what about the season overall for eCommerce? In short, growth. In the US, eCommerce transactions increased 12%. Not to be outshone by their progeny, it rose 13.6% in the UK.

However, there’s a larger trend at play: mobile. Mobile device transactions grew another 31% in the US and smartphones represented 68% of that growth. While impressive growth, 84% of ALL transactions were made via mobile for Singles’ Day.

The day is still king, but some are in name only

For eCommerce, Cyber Monday is still be king but Black Friday may turn out to usurp the throne: Black Friday was only $110 million behind its cousin. It will still be Cyber Monday in name but the actual case may be otherwise in 2017.

Meanwhile, Boxing Day continues to slow. The one-two punch of Black Friday and Cyber Monday are blackening its eyes. From less foot traffic to lower in-store stock levels, it’ll remain important…symbolically so.

Reading between the lines

Amazon and Alibaba continue to rule the eCommerce universe. “Duh,” and fair enough. But there’s a story. Did you know that most of the traction gained by Amazon was primarily due to logistics and mobile?

Specifically, more people than ever subscribed to Amazon Prime this holiday season and almost 3/4 of Amazon customers shopped through their app. But don’t worry about having to go in-app, most shoppers still use browsers.

Logistics not only accounts for shipping to but returning from. For Black Friday in the UK, around £1 billion worth of goods is expected to be returned and eCommerce averages a general return rate of 15 to 30%.

Expand on this holiday shopping season

What is great about holiday shopping season in general is that it is merely a highly concentrated version of what is happening within the retail world at large. Whether you made it big or small, take the essence of what happened and expand it throughout the year:

  • Get your head out of the sand, it’s all going mobile
  • Advertise earlier but drive traffic toward the day of
  • Optimize your site for mobile
  • Improve your shipping AND return logistics, make this process easy as possible
  • Mobile wallets will continue to gain traction, look into them
  • Alibaba effectively created Singles’ Day, look into creating and promoting sales events of your own

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