The data is in. According to multiple sources, the holiday 2017 online shopping season was one for the books. Due to a "strengthening economy, high consumer confidence and rebuilding efforts after a season of natural disasters across the country", online sales increased 10.4 percent from last year compared to only 4 percent from brick and mortar stores [source: NYTimes]. Due in part to retailers really ramping up their e-commerce operations and crazy deals for Black Friday/Cyber Monday (upwards of 50%-60% off, is anyone making any profit off of these margins after discounting?!), this growth and climb is the largest since the 2008 recession. It also though falls during a time in which online shopping in general makes up for almost 10% of all retails sales in general.
As marketers and business owners, what can we learn from these numbers? By looking at some of the strategies that lead to these sales numbers, we can borrow ideas from some of the big online players and weave into our plans and initiatives for 2018. Here's what worked and what you should consider:
Deals, messaging and low prices should lure buyers before Black Friday and Cyber Monday.
The time period from Nov 1 - Thanksgiving should be just as important as the 5 days around Black Friday and Cyber Monday. These 20 or so odd days are for the early birds who are out in force. Spending during this time period accounted for 7 times the total spend from just Cyber Monday alone. Getting started on a serious holiday sales and messaging strategy as early as November 1st for the holiday shopping season should now be the new norm.
Connect online to offline.
Wal-Mart did a really aggressive push this season to will play up its vast brick-and-mortar presence and in-store pickup services for online shoppers. Many other mall retailers also pushed their pick-up in store feature as a way to cut down on shipping and close deals and sales before the delivery cut-off hit in late December. Giving customers the option to shop the online deals in person is also another way to drive sales in store. Connecting the dots between online and off is extremely important.
Don't forget about your mobile shopping strategy.
Shopping from phones was responsible for approximately 21% of just Cyber Monday sales alone so you could only imagine how highly effective and profitable this platform is the month of November, let alone the whole year. Be sure your mobile shopping experience is seamless this year, especially in Q4. Thinking of doing an update to it? Re-design or overhaul? Start now!
I hate to end this post on a bit of bad news but let's get real: Amazon is really crushing everything. This behemoth player is responsible for 50% of the holiday spending growth in general. After that, we're all just small fish in a very, very, very big pond filled with kois owned by Bezos.