The holiday season is upon us, which means holiday shopping is upon us, which more and more means online holiday shopping is upon us.
Last year, consumers spent about $70 billion on ecommerce during the holiday season. That was up 13% from the year before, and all expectations point toward a further increase this year. That growth rate far exceeds that of brick-and-mortar stores during the same period of time. This is thanks in large part to the growth of mobile ecommerce. Consumer holiday spending on smartphones and tablets alone accounted for $12.7 billion, which was around 18% of the total. That was up by a whopping 59% from 2014.
Clearly, online shopping is on the rise in general, but at its very peak during the holidays.
So, what should ecommerce businesses be aware of as we dive into the heart of holiday shopping season? And what can they do to capitalize?
Mobile is Crucial
The increase of mobile browsing, mobile searches and the necessity for mobile-friendly websites has been well-documented in recent years. Mobile web traffic has overtaken desktop. Google says that more searches now take place on mobile than on desktop. Mobile ad-spending has overtaken desktop. People even have a tendency toward mobile search and browsing when there is a perfectly usable desktop computer available. All of this has lead Google to start prioritizing mobile-friendly sites in search results.
So why would it be surprising that there has been explosive growth in mobile ecommerce as well?
For a while, mobile ecommerce was lagging behind. People didn’t feel as secure entering their credit card information on their phones. Mobile ecommerce sites have not traditionally been as reliable as their desktop counterparts. Filling out checkout forms on mobile has been a total pain.
But no longer. Thanks to easy and secure payment services like Visa Checkout and Apple Pay, and amazing mobile ecommerce templates from services like Squarespace and Shopify, mobile ecommerce is catching up in a big way. That means for ecommerce sites, having a great, well-organized mobile shopping experience with fast and secure checkout is an absolute must.
Especially around the holidays when shoppers may have put off gift shopping until the last minute, online retailers have to make sure they are offering a variety of flexible shipping options. A free shipping option can be a difference maker when comparing one store to another, but certain customers are going to be willing to pay a premium for speed. Make sure they are able to get their order filled and shipped quickly and reliably, so they know they can come to your site for great last minute gifts.
If you have a brick-and-mortar store along with an online store, offer, make sure to offer a “buy online, pickup in store” option. According to Google, nearly 70% of customers think it is important that a store offer them multiple ways to purchase a product. Buying online and picking up in store is a great way for consumers to save on shipping costs and feel like you are catering to their needs.
Another growing trend that those with brick-and-mortar stores should be aware of is the use of mobile searches in store. More and more, customers are using their smartphones to look up information and reviews about products online while they are standing in a store and considering a purchase. Making sure that your mobile site is fast and filled with good reliable product information will help ensure that your in-store customers will both get their info and make their purchase through you, and not one of your competitors.
The holiday season is filled with special shopping days that retailers need to be aware of. From Black Friday to Cyber Monday to Green Monday to Free Shipping Day, customers have an expectation that their favorite stores will be participating in and contributing to all of the shopping goodness.
Make sure you focus your marketing and SEO efforts around these holidays. Offer promotions, discounts and sales, and let people know about them through social media and newsletters. (Pro tip: the increased holiday traffic can also be a great opportunity to bolster your newsletter subscribers – but make sure you give them a good reason to sign up with special promos and content.)
Changing your social media banners, making custom landing pages, and creating a schedule of social media and blog posts are all great ways to stay ahead of and capitalize on the holiday shopping season.
Nearly three-quarters of retailers say that 20% or more of their annual sales come during the holiday season. Hopefully these tips and trends will help you stay on top of things during this busy time, and finish out the end of your year strong. Contact us today to see how we can help increase your sales and boost your growth potential for 2017!