eMarketer has a nifty new report called, “Online Holiday Shopping Preview: What Retailers Need to Know,” that can help, but here are a few of the basics. 42.7% of the people surveyed said they would only buy gifts that were on sale and 36% said they’d be doing more comparison shopping before forking over the cash.
In the past, Thanksgiving was the traditional start of the holiday buying season and most retailers kicked it off with a huge Black Friday sale. The upswing in online shopping led to the creation of the Cyber-Monday sale a the start of the week after Thanksgiving, but Fiona Dias of GSI Commerce told eMarketer that most consumers aren’t going to wait that long for a deal.
“For the holiday season, the earliest retailers start to make noise around Halloween. So by the time Black Friday comes around, the most savvy shoppers have already taken advantage of Black Friday–like prices and Cyber Monday–like prices a good month ahead of time.”
Dias also likes Twitter as a means of driving business this season as it allows retailers the opportunity to constantly put their name in front of customers with flash sales, gift ideas and answers to questions. As we’ve seen in the past, a good deal on Twitter can go viral in minutes which leads to another warning by eMarketer’s Jeffrey Grau who wrote the report. Now is the time to test your website checking for the ability to handle large amounts of traffic, looking at SEO strategies and just making sure that your shopping cart works. Even for a great deal, consumers won’t keep trying if a site doesn’t work the first time or two.
Experts are also saying this is the year that mobile shopping really comes into play. Brian Murphy, who handle New York-based mobile advertising sales at Google, told Mobile Commerce Daily that Sears sold two $300,000 tractors through their mobile site last year;
“If somebody’s going to buy a $300,000 tractor from a mobile phone, something unexpected is going to happen. We’re going to read an article from a major bricks-and-mortar retailer about how they sold a line of products through mobile that you never thought anyone would buy through mobile.”
The key says Murphy, is delivering information not advertising. He points to a program by Panasonic that offered a branded guide to buying a flat screen TV. Consumers could download the guide to their phone and use it while they were at the store to compare features.
Panelists at a recent holiday focused, Mobile Marketing Summit agreed that businesses need to step up and embrace mobile sales opportunities. And that these mobile sales effort must end with the ability to actually purchase an item from a phone. They felt that anxiety over the security of mobile payments was overstated and that new technology made mobile payment as secure as payments done over the web.
The message here is that retailers are going to have to be more creative when it comes to wooing customers. The urgency and viral nature of flash sales, the convenience of mobile, making the shopping experience as fun and error-free as possible – these are the keys to seeing green instead of red this holiday season.