The good news is that more buyers are making their holiday purchases online. Online retail should grow 13.9 percent to more than $79 billion this year, according to Practical Ecommerce.
The trick is making sure you get your share of those holiday sales. To do that, you need to be aware of holiday trends for 2015.
RJMetrics states that the period from Black Friday to Christmas Day pulls in 50 percent to 100 percent more ecommerce revenue, compared with the rest of the year.
Cyber Monday is making a particular impact. It’s expected to reap $3 billion this year, more than Black Friday, with an estimate of $2.7 billion. RJMetrics points out that 92 percent of shoppers look for bargains online, and notes that Cyber Monday is the most heavily discounted shopping day.
Be aware, however, that 48 percent of holiday shoppers in 2014 did the majority of their shopping before Cyber Monday.
Here are the top times when people shop on Cyber Monday, according to the National Retail Association, so plan accordingly:
Early morning, 40.8 percent; late morning, 37.9 percent; early afternoon, 32.5 percent. Those time frames are likely to be repeated this year.
The NRF 2015 Holiday Consumer Spending Survey researched more than 7,000 consumers between Oct. 5 and Oct. 13 to determine their shopping habits this holiday season. Top findings:
- Average spending per person will reach $805.65, comparable to the 2014 holiday season, which averaged $802.45.
- Consumers said 46 percent of their shopping – which includes browsing and buying – will be done online. That’s up from 44 percent last year.
- More than 21 percent of smartphone owners said they will use their device to purchase holiday merchandise this year.
- Some 93.1 percent of online shoppers said they will use a free shipping offer to buy holiday merchandise.
- Nearly 56 percent of shoppers will splurge on non-gift items for themselves and others, spending an average of $131.59, up from $126.37 last year.
- Millennial shoppers are more likely to take advantage of same-day delivery options when buying holiday items. That includes 16.7 percent of 18- to 24-year-olds and 15.9 percent of 25- to 34-year-olds, compared with just 7.8 percent of the rest of the population.
Here are some strategies to help you take advantage of holiday trends:
- You want a seamless, fast website for customers. According to Radware, a website solutions provider, 57 percent of customers will abandon a site that doesn’t load after three seconds.
- Make sure your site is mobile responsive. Last year, 45 percent of all online traffic to retail sites and apps came from smartphones and tablets.
- Help customers find what they need faster. For example, preview some of your holiday products on your home page. If you have items or services that would make great gifts or you have special deals for the season, call out that section on your navigation bar, and make special landing pages.
- Stock plenty of inventory – you don’t want to run out. It’s wise to update this section daily.
- Your back-end system needs to be compliant with the Payment Card Industry Data Security Standard – and it has to be able to handle anticipated transaction volume through the holiday season.
- Streamline your check-out process so it’s fast and convenient.
- Email is more important this year. It’s a good idea to personalize and automate your mail messages, so shoppers who make a purchase see follow-up messages designed to make additional sales and retain the customer all year long.
- Gift cards top the list of requested gift items, so make sure you offer them. According to the NRF, nearly six in 10 consumers (58.8 percent) would like to receive gifts cards. Close behind are clothing or clothing accessories (52.2 percent), followed by books, CDs, DVDs and video games (40.5 percent).
- Many social media networks – Facebook, Pinterest, Instagram, Twitter and YouTube – have introduced “buy” buttons so consumers can purchase directly from those platforms. Most likely you are already active on social media channels, so why not sell in real time as you interact with customers online?
Make sure you connect with your customers, wherever they are: on social media, a desktop computer or a mobile app. Make it easy for them to find and purchase your products during the holiday season, and communicate with them in a personal vein to keep them around all year long.