You will hear two different sentiments starting around this time of year...
- "...are they serious? It's only September!?!"...or...
- "It's almost the end of September and how are we going to get everything done?"
When you hear it you know - it's holiday season again. Consumers have to deal with the increasing flood of holiday themed merchandise and marketing messaging, while retailers are pulling their hair out trying to prepare for the inevitable rush of traffic that is months away.
To make matters more muddled, the speed of technological innovation from year to year creates new challenges forcing retailers to rethink the market landscape and subsequently their market strategies.
So, for the question on everyone's mind - how will the 2012 holiday season look?
Charting the 2012 Landscape
It's an (increasingly) digital world and we're just living in it.
Experts expect overall consumer spending to grow during the 2012 holiday season when compared with the same period in 2011; however, eCommerce spending will account for the lion's share of that number.
According to ShopperTrak, retailers have reason to be optimistic about store sales this year. Compared to November and December of last year (defined as the holiday season), sales are expected to rise 3.3% and foot traffic should be up by about 2.8%.
Comparatively, online shoppers are expected to spend 16.8% more dollars this year than in 2011. If that prediction holds true, it will mark a fourth consecutive year of growth in the eCommerce industry. In addition, EMarketer says that those numbers equate to eCommerce purchases accounting for 24.3% of all retail spending during the holiday season. While this clearly shows that brick-and-mortar stores are still vitally important, it also affirms that online shopping is here to stay and that retailers should not only take note, but take action.
Let's make a deal.
No I'm not talking about the game show. With the proliferation of daily deal and flash deal sites, consumers have more choices and more savings to sort through. While industry leaders like Groupon and LivingSocial continue to dominate, their success has paved the way for niche sites serving a variety of retail segments like The Clymb (outdoor gear/apparel), Joss and Main (home decor), and a slew of others. If 2011 is any indication, 1 in 5 shoppers bought a holiday gift from a daily deal site according to data from ComScore Inc.
Retailers who want to influence and convert shoppers during the lucrative holiday season know that they must be where their customers are...which is to say, everywhere. As shoppers become more savvy users of technology and integrating knowledge gleened from the web, mobile and in-store experience to make buying decisions, retailers must follow suit. Providing multiple touchpoints and making it easy for shoppers to comparison shop or navigate product catalogs will drive additional sales.
As with any forecast nothing is certain, especially if you don't take the steps to capitalize on the market. So, what can you do to prepare this season? Karen Klein at Bloomberg has this list to consider:
- Go Festive - It's not too early to start the transition to holiday themes and hot products.
- Think Promos - Last year's "free shipping day" grossed $1.072 billion in industry sales.
- Make Things Easy - Ensure that the purchase process is intuitive and that customer's know how to contact you via the web, phone, or in person.
- Engage Customers - Differentiate your offering by piquing interest. This could be simply posing questions about routine purchases or utilizing eCommerce tools that create a unique user experience.
- Speed Up - Optimize your site for load time; every second it takes to load, a website loses 10% of it's audience.
- Go Mobile - With the increasing importance that mobile has on shopping, be sure that you have a presence across the various devices.
- Remove Barriers - Make it as easy as possible for customers to find and buy the product they want (i.e. offer a guest checkout if you normally require registration).
- Use Video - A clear and engaging visual strategy can speak more to your customers helping them engage with your message.
- Think Global - If you want to exploit international opportunites, be sure your site is translatable and simple to navigate in any situation.
- Get Feedback - Leverage this opportunity to listen to your customers and learn what they want/expect.
Who is iGoDigital?
iGoDigital is a leader in personalization and user experience tools for eCommerce. If you are interested in learning more about best practices for the holiday season or how our Toolbox of Services can help you engage with shoppers to drive additional conversions and incremental revenue contact us at email@example.com.