Too early to start talking about the holidays? For retailers, this is certainly not the case. Holiday sales revenues are critical: the holiday season accounts for more than 18% of the industry’s annual sales revenue in the U.S.
And because consumers have come to depend on the convenience of Internet shopping during the busiest time of the retail year, the holidays are especially important for e-commerce. Sales in the final two months of the year drive 23% of full-year U.S. e-commerce sales. In the UK, online sales in November and December comprise 17% of annual e-commerce sales.
No wonder holiday sales promotions are kicking off earlier and earlier in the year, and retailers are planning for the holidays sooner than ever before.
As it turns out, consumers have been conditioned to take advantage of the deep-discount promotions at Thanksgiving time (if not earlier) in order to get a jump on their gift buying. In 2015, for example, U.S. consumers had completed nearly half of their holiday season shopping by the close of Cyber Monday.
So what are retailers doing differently this summer to get ready for 2016’s digital-savvy holiday shoppers?
1. Retailers Are Embracing the Mobile Channel
The desktop still accounts for the lion’s share of holiday browsing and buying but mobile is by far the fastest growing retail channel. As consumers become increasingly comfortable with mobile transactions, some retailers are planning for 50% growth in holiday sales on smartphones and tablets this year. They’re speeding up load times on their mobile sites for a better user experience. They’re building audience graphs to connect cross-device data at the customer level. And, knowing that in-store customers often use smartphones to check prices on the Internet, they’re empowering sales associates to match lower online prices in order to make the sale.
2. Ad Targeting Will Be More Sophisticated
Advertising costs skyrocket during the holidays. This puts added pressure on retailers to make the most of fourth quarter ad budgets by getting the right message to the right shopper at the right time. So retailers are leveraging their CRM data to focus ad spend on customers who are most likely to buy from them again. By connecting their offline and online customer data, they can target customer audience segments across web and mobile with addressable media and personalized messaging.
3. Marketers Are Building Stronger Connections With Consumers
Amazon’s annual Prime Day is a case in point. This July sales event actually has everything to do with holiday season, providing a significant opportunity for Amazon to earn more Prime members and gather valuable customer information that it can leverage for advertising and marketing when November finally arrives. It’s clear that Amazon is top of mind with consumers during the holidays, prompting competitors to follow suit. A number of big retailers are now running summertime promotions to capture new customers – and gather customer data that can be turned into individualized, persistent profiles for targeting consumers and keeping them engaged in the fourth quarter and beyond.
The stakes this holiday season are higher than ever for retailers, and planning ahead is the key to success. To learn more about how U.S. consumers will shop this holiday season, check out Signal’s latest infographic.
Originally published August 12, 2016