It’s hard to believe, but we are more than halfway through the 2012 holiday shopping season. The biggest shopping days of the year are behind us and Cyber Monday’s sales of $1.46 billion have eclipsed every other online shopping day in history.
But analysts are saying there’s still money to be spent. Consumer confidence has just reached a four-year high, and as the gifts still on our shopping lists prove, there’s still a lot of shopping left to be done.
So what are this season’s top retail trends that could help you increase sales, whether in the next 15 days or for the next holiday season?
- Consumers blur the lines between online and offline. According to a Holiday Shopping Intentions Study conducted by Google and Ipsos OTX, 51 percent of shoppers plan to browse for an item online before they visit the store to actually purchase. Another 32 percent say they will research online, visit a store to look at the item, and then boomerang back online to complete the purchase. What does this mean to you? The path to purchase is becoming less linear as consumers easily shift back and forth between channels. Sales that started in the store can be lost if the online experience isn’t right. Instead, make sure your shopping platform is robust, easy to search and use, and shows multiple product views and full specs. You can guide consumers through their boomerang behavior by letting them scan the item at the store to create an easy-to-reference list of items they want to find online later or allowing them to purchase the item online and head to the store for instant pickup.
- Retailers create new shopping holidays. The initial burst is over, but stores will continue to see last-minute shopping. Today, Dec. 10th, has been dubbed Green Monday, and online retailers expect nearly 1.5 times more sales today than on an average day throughout the year, according to Adobe Digital Index. What can you do? Time a Free Shipping Day with national Free Shipping Day on Dec. 17th, and expect to turn twice as many browsers on your site into actual purchasers. Comscore reports that consumers spend an average of 42 percent more when transactions come with free shipping.
- Gift cards are fashionable. No longer perceived as a tacky gift from a lazy giver, retailers are finding unique new ways to market them. But you don’t have to offer an exclusive $450 steel gift card through Gilt.com the way Starbucks is doing to package your gift card in a way that will stand out from the crowd. The key is to give the gift giver ways to convey their thoughtfulness. What can you do? Consider packaging your gift card with a more concrete gift as well, such as a picture frame or pair of mittens. Offer customization options, such as virtual cards with a user-uploaded photo, or let the customer choose from a variety of unique designs that let them say, “I knew you would love this!”
What else have you seen from retailers that is smart, clever or strategic? As the season wraps up and we head towards Christmas, keep an eye out for other ideas as you begin planning for next year’s holiday campaign.