Believe it or not, holiday season is just around the corner. In fact, By Labor Day last year, 32 million U.S. consumers had already started checking items off their holiday shopping lists for 2016, according to CreditCards.com. This means that for retailers, the time to start planning for one of the most important times of year is right now.
Holiday shopping season is about much more than profits. Indeed, this hectic time is a monumental moment for retailers to impress their consumers with relevant, memorable, shopping experiences that are more fun than stressful. Beyond foot traffic and Web visits, Holiday 2016 is an opportunity for retailers to earn loyalty from consumers long after the final gifts have been unwrapped. As holiday preparations ensue, be sure to keep these eight facts in mind:
1. Retail Sales Will Increase Just Slightly This Year
According to eMarketer, total retail holiday season sales will only increase 1.8% this year. Retailers be warned: This year, it is necessary to up the ante and focus on creating positive experiences.
2. More Purchases Will Be Made Online
While overall retail sales are expected to remain flat, eMarketer projects [tweetable]holiday e-commerce retail sales will grow 13.3% this year.[/tweetable] This means retailers must offer excellent digital shopping experiences that are on par with Amazon.
3. Amazon Is Top-of-Mind
Why do retailers need to compete with Amazon? The proof is in the numbers. According to a recent survey conducted by Signal, 42% of U.S. consumers report the e-commerce giant will be their primary holiday gift destination.
4. Mobile Is On the Rise
According to comScore, mobile commerce was up $5 billion during the 2015 holiday, a 59% increase from 2014. Considering the number of devices consumers will use this year to check off their shopping lists, retailers must be prepared to offer seamless cross-device experiences.
5. Personalization Pays Off
According to holiday shopping research by MarketLive, 55% of consumers are comfortable sharing their preferences in exchange for personalized product recommendations. Additionally, holiday shoppers are likely to take advantage of tailored product recommendations received through e-mail (55%), on a retailer’s website (52%) or a customized mobile ad (42%).
6. Seamless Experiences Are Everything
Adlucent pointed out that 66% of consumers shop both online and in-store during holiday season, which means an effective omnichannel strategy is critical for retailers. Consumers will demand seamlessness this year, and retailers who don’t deliver risk losing valuable customers.
7. Digital Advertising Has an Impact
Digital advertising can make or break holiday success this year. According to the Signal study, 34% of U.S. consumers say that digital advertising on a website or in a mobile app influences their holiday gift buying. In addition, one-third of consumers said that ads help them get discounts or deals, and 27% said ads provide them with new gift ideas.
8. Holidays Are Peak Season for Valuable Data
Everyday, the world creates 2.5 quintillion bytes of data, says IBM. In retail, big data creation hits its peak as holiday shoppers crowd the stores and storm the Internet. Retailers that have the ability to turn all this rich data into persistent customer profiles can gain significant competitive advantage. Ensuring profile stability with a universal ID, which doesn’t expire like fragile Web cookies, will help marketers power relevant experiences and keep customers engaged into the New Year and beyond.
This year, consumers will rely on multiple devices throughout their shopper journeys and expect relevance and seamlessness at every touch point. In response, retailers must tap into their first-party data to recognize their customers across channels and devices, create memorable experiences and above all, make life easier for shoppers during a hectic time of year.