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With one of the biggest retail holiday months at our doorstep, ‘tis the season for consumers to indulge in gift shopping (and indulge they are – holiday sales in the U.S. alone are forecasted to increase by 4.55% from last year!) To help prepare retailers for the madness ahead, we’ve rounded up the top 5 holiday retail marketing trends and tips to keep on your radar in the weeks leading up to Christmas.

1. Mobile dominates the shopping scene in terms of sales and traffic.

2018 will be the year that mobile solidifies its position as the primary medium for shopping. Black Friday and Cyber Monday figures already prove this.

Our data shows that 56% of Black Friday/Cyber Monday sales in the Fashion segment came from mobile channels, up 6% from last year.

It also accounted for 71% of total traffic – 76% total if combined with tablet usage.

Keep in mind: Even though a large number of purchases made during the retail holiday season (or anytime, for that matter) may be done in a physical store, the customer journey almost surely has a digital detour. In fact, Google data shows that 90% of retail sales still happen online, but digital influences 74% of all holiday store visits. So if you’re an omnichannel retailer, don’t fret if your online conversion rate isn’t at its finest. Instead, focus on incorporating tactics into your marketing strategy that drive a customer from screen to store, such as…

  • A solid social media strategy (like targeted Facebook posts that promote products that are specific to a city or region)
  • Optimization of your webstore for SEO
  • “In story only” discount vouchers

If your business is purely digital-based, consider setting up cart abandonment emails to drive the customer back to the checkout page to complete their purchase.

 

2. Social media is expected to drive more traffic than ever before.

Adults spend about 40 minutes solely on social network sites or apps when on their phones. Coupled with mobile’s growing dominance in the retail scene, social media is becoming an increasingly important driver of retail traffic. In fact, Salesforce expect social traffic share to increase over 51% this season – an increase of 17% from last year.

Keep in mind: Instagram is the most popular medium among adults in both North America and Europe. A strong social media strategy that keeps you in front of your target audiences will help you engage (and re-engage) shoppers and help ring in that extra holiday revenue.

An extra note: Be sure to sign up for our 2018 Ecommerce Holiday Calendar where we reveal the social advertising tactics retailers should use to drive conversion!

 

3. AI-Recommendations will drive more revenue than in previous years.

AI-powered product recommendations are predicted to generate 35% greater revenue during the retail holiday season alone – this marks a 25% increase from last season. Considering the rise of AI across the retail industry, it comes as no surprise that businesses are leveraging this technology more than ever to stay ahead of the pack. And when it comes to personalizing product recommendations for shoppers, the added layer of intelligence allows retailers to understand customer intent and build more personal connections like never before.

Keep in mind: While AI is an ever-popular buzzword in retail, its definition is one that continues to evolve over time. This year, we partnered with Retail Week to dissect the current understanding of Artificial Intelligence and how leading retailers are using this technology to deliver memorable, relevant experiences.

 

4. Free shipping will have a stronger presence in online ordering.

Everyone loves a little free shipping incentive – especially when dishing out the big bucks during the holidays. With Powerhouse retailer Amazon is even going as far as offering every customer free shipping during the holiday season. Thus, offering free shipping is a small but strong way to establish brand loyalty – as well as a key driver of conversion and retention well beyond the holidays.

Keep in mind:  Although free shipping is a major perk in the eyes of most consumers, it’s also not considered a promotion: an estimated 38% of shoppers won’t shop somewhere that doesn’t offer free shipping. To maximize Average Order Value, consider offering free shipping once shoppers have reached a certain order value. Personalize the Cart page to show shoppers how they can reach the threshold – by adding last minute items to their cart.

 

5. Sales momentum will rise after Black Friday/Cyber Monday (say hello to ‘Cyber Week II’!)

Cyber Week – technically, the Black Friday and Cyber Monday weekend – marks the start of the holiday sales period. While it’s expected that 37% of all U.S. holiday retail sales are made during this period, only about 18% of consumers say that they finish all their holiday shopping at this time. This means that 82% of consumers can be influenced in the proceeding weeks leading up to Christmas – and even after…

Ever heard of Cyber Week II? This is the period after Christmas when consumers are armed with gift cards and ready for round two of the shopping bonanza. This has traditionally been the most popular sales period across several markets worldwide – with the Mellandagsrea in Sweden, for instance, now only matched by the introduction of Black Friday.

Keep in mind: A personalized offer goes a long way – especially in the busy holiday season.  With slight edits of course, may not be ideal to run the same copy. Also, this is when people start to “treat themselves”, so personalized offer may come even more in handy here.

 

When it comes to planning a killer holiday retail marketing strategy, timing and relevance are everything. Need some additional tips and insight to help prepare your store for holiday success? Give our team a shout and we’ll be happy to help.