In Depth

Retail’s Holiday Shopping List

It’s make it or break it time – the holiday shopping season. And when it comes to eCommerce, being prepared – and proactive — is critical, cautions Digital River in a recent white paper, “Predictive Data For Holiday Campaign Planning.”

And to the victor will go the spoils. Being able to capitalize on the shift to online retail in the United States – which will account for roughly 9 percent of all holiday sales this year – means taking a good slice of this $79 billion spend.

One key to capturing spend, said Digital River, lies with strong and targeted marketing spend, which will in turn drive consumer awareness and adoption. Prescient and proactive marketing spend, according to the research, begins with a review of past practices, which can highlight both successes and failures, with an eye on finding out what worked, what didn’t, and what might work going forward. Such examination will help ensure that promotional activity going forward, and headed into the holiday season, remains effective.

The potential benefits of such benchmarking remain substantial, said Digital River, including the potential to recognize patterns that may have gone unnoticed. Research from comScore found that 2014 online holiday sales were up 15 percent over 2013, which translated into $53 billion spent online. That year, Cyber Monday loomed large on the retail landscape, with top ranking as the heaviest spending day of the year at $2 billion, and that was in desktop buying alone.

According to Digital River and looking at the Top 10 spending days of the year, “an interesting pattern emerges.” The pattern is that Mondays and Tuesdays post Black Friday top the list, and not, as conventional wisdom holds, weekends or the days within a week of Christmas comes into the Top 10.

For strategies during the holiday season: Social media should see growth in the holiday season, with a 1.9 percent tally of digital purchases garnered directly from this channel last year and likely to increase this year, driven by gifting ideas.

For areas that need to be addressed, Digital River said that “customer centricity” needs to be top of mind and effort for retailers, yet many consumers remain disappointed with the lack of customer service they experience from those retailers.

With the growing advent of mobile in online shopping, retailers should expect to see as much as 32 percent gains in this channel this year, with one key driver coming in the form of better fulfillment and exchange options. And, added Digital River, firms would do well to add Facebook retargeting and Google retargeting efforts to boost returns on funds spent on advertising.

Email marketing also should have a place in the online retailer’s toolbox, said Digital River, as email marketing was responsible for nearly 18 percent of online ordering last year, and content is a strong driver of click-through rates.  

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