Holiday shopping trends for a successful 2016

Last year, mobile finally beat out brick and mortar stores in the war for shoppers. Although retail was relatively flat in general, ecommerce boomed with 13.4% growth and mcommerce surged with 59% growth.

This year, projected ecommerce growth is 17% and retailers have started as early as September. Simply put, you’re late to the party if you haven’t started yet. Don’t worry, most of your customers still haven’t decided on their +1s: there’s still time to make an impression.

Nonetheless, consumers are transitioning from shoppers to buyers; it’s now or never. Outfitted with the right information, you can ensure that you are fashionably late. After all, it’s better than to never arrive.

Most are traveling to the jungle

No longer synonymous with darkness, disease, or death, the jungle is now orange, black, and paralyzes you with the The Paradox of Choice. It’s Amazon, and its sellers will continue to claim the lionshare of ecommerce.

It’s no secret that Amazon’s appetite is insatiable. Obvious? Fair enough. What does this mean for you? A larger trend is at play; people are moving the majority of their searching and buying online.

Like a rising tide lifts all boats, you can take advantage of the growing pool of potential buyers. Unfortunately, you probably won’t reach the necessary scale to lease jets or even deliver via drones…oh well.

Hello retailer, have you met my avatar?

Not only is searching and buying shifting to mobile, search is well-established. 56% of the holiday searches that resulted in clicks to top retail sites were on mobile in 2015. Mobile is social, targeted, and real-time, all of which mean opportunity.

Mobile optimization is a MUST. Social media presence is a MUST: it’s not a buy channel, but a drive channel. Using mobile targeting for local advertising and/or merchandising is a MUST.

Fewer consumers will begin their searches in-store and more will use them as showrooms. They don’t need to shop there: delivery is offered later and the hysteria is being broadcast everywhere. Consumers don’t want The Hunger Gamesthey just want their gifts.

It’s still all about carpe diem…

Technology has extended the buying window, but the majority of your revenue will still come from traditional deal days. After all, tradition is strong: Black Friday is the unofficial start for the Christmas shopping season and will likely continue to be in the Western world.

In fact, 68% of US retailers earned most of their holiday revenue on Black Friday 2015. Not surprisingly, Cyber Monday 2015 (the Monday following Black Friday) was the biggest sales day for mobile. But, there is an even bigger day in China.

It is Singles Day, the day that is to singles what Valentine’s Day is to couples. In the first 30-minutes alone, Alibaba recorded its first $1 billion on 11.11.2015 and has expanded its promotional window to 24 days this year. The tide may build throughout the season, but it shatters the dam day-of.

…but, the fat lady is singing later

Nonetheless, the swan song doesn’t begin on gifting day. Only 39% of US shoppers were finished by December 21st and two-thirds of shoppers plan on making purchases after Christmas. True to trend, 43% of them plan on shopping online.

Shopper behavior is similar across the pond. Once the servant’s Christmas, Boxing day is one of the UK’s biggest shopping days. Taking place on Christmas +1, 1/3rd of Boxing Day shoppers intend to shop from the safety of their homes.

The holiday shopping season is a veritable salmon run: you can catch shoppers before, during, and after the primary sales days. Stay top-of-mind during the build-up, set your site up to catch them day-of, and grab the stragglers after the swell. But, what can you do so they buy from you at all phases?

When they do drop in, they want it all

Some questions for you to consider: do you

  • provide the shopping cart total prior to check out?
  • guarantee on-time delivery?
  • engage in conversational commerce to help push the customer to purchase?
  • offer free returns?

Why these questions? They are what customers overwhelmingly want and where you can gain the edge by answering “Yes” to. Even if you cannot offer them all, providing one or a few can give you conversions instead of abandoned carts.

Putting a bow on it

As you’ve probably surmised, the core of these trends parallel what’s happening with retail overall: e- and mcommerce are the future: the holiday season is merely the concentrated, distilled version of this future.

Bear in mind that many of these reports are based on large retailers with extremely tight profit margins. They need to start earlier due to overhead and fierce competition among themselves, as well as with Amazon.

Except you. You’re smaller, but you’re nimbler. Even if you didn’t start in September, or haven’t started now, you can adjust your posture more quickly and those adjustments will have greater impact. The bow isn’t on the present just yet, get to work and get your share this season and next.

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