Despite the holiday jingles you’ll hear this year, the weeks that surround the holiday shopping season aren’t all chestnuts and open fires for retailers. From November to December every year, retailers buckle down and make the most of the busiest shopping season, making as much as 30% of their annual sales in just a few weeks.
The past few years have brought dramatic shifts to how people are doing their holiday shopping. The frenzied midnight mall outings on Black Friday have turned into online hunts for the best deals. So what will Holiday 2017 bring for retailers? Here are a few of our predictions.
It’s 2006 Again
Christmas will fall on a Monday this year. The last time Christmas fell on a Monday was 2006 and the next time it will do so is in 2023.
In the world of retail, days matter. This year there will be 32 days between Thanksgiving and Christmas – one day longer than last year and three days longer than 2015. That means more earning opportunities for retailers.
That also makes Super Saturday, the biggest in-store shopping day of the year, almost as late in the season as it can be.
The fact that Christmas falls on a Monday also means that same day delivery will be big this year. Many shipping providers do not deliver on Saturday or Sundays – the last day for expensive overnight shipping is Thursday or Friday. Same day delivery and in store sales will be the only way to receive goods over the weekend before Christmas.
Mobile is the front door to the store
More than half of visits to shopping sites — 54% — will come from smartphones and tablets, surpassing desktop computers for the first time according to Adobe.
This reflects a fundamental shift in how people shop. Consumers now have the world’s inventory in their pocket. They are using their smartphones more and more to frequently and casually browse and purchase online, creating a shopping experience made up of mobile “micro moments”.
We began to see the effects of these “micro moments” last year, as online purchases increased 9% but average order value increased .2%, meaning shoppers are bought more often instead of increasing the size of the order. And while only a third of ecommerce purchases were on mobile in 2015, today’s larger phones and mobile-optimized sites are sure to aid mobile conversions.
Shoppers Expect Choice
A third of shoppers are early birds and began shopping before October while another third of shoppers are procrastinators and don’t begin shopping until December according to the NRF.
The ability to choose delivery options lets early-season shoppers enjoy inexpensive (often free) delivery and convenience. For last minute shoppers, rapid fulfillment and delivery ensures they’ll receive their goods on time. In fact, 61% of shoppers expect orders placed by noon to qualify for same day delivery and 25% of shoppers said they would abandon their cart if same-day delivery was unavailable.
Amazon’s 2-day, same day, and even 1 hour delivery options have reset customer expectations for delivery. Consumers can now purchase online with the confidence that their products will arrive well before they’re needed. With over half of households having an Amazon prime membership, these shipping timelines have become the standard. Retailers that have kept pace with customer expectations with multiple delivery options will reap the benefits this holiday season.
Stores Are Critical to Winning Holiday
True, shoppers plan to spend 51% of their holiday shopping budget online, compared to 42% in stores, according to Deloitte’s survey of more than 4,000 Americans.
According to National Retail Federation data, 99 million people said they shopped in stores on Thanksgiving weekend last year — a drop of three million from the year before. Meanwhile, 108 million people shopped online in the same period — a five million increase year over year.
Brick and mortar stores continue to be a touchpoint in the shopping experience, with 75% of 18-34 years olds reporting they would visit a store to see a product and purchase it online afterwards. While this convolutes the value of in-store sales, it attests to the importance of an omnichannel approach to retail. The ability for shoppers to see items in-store and compare prices online has shifted the power back in their favor, forcing retailers to cater to the expectations of the empowered consumer.
In order to compete with Amazon with same day delivery, retailers need local inventory. The good news is that they have over 100K stores that can be used as local fulfillment centers. Keeping products closer to consumers lets retailers fulfil same day delivery orders directly from their brick and mortar locations.
It will be another record-breaking Holiday season for Amazon
The latest retail trends all seem to be working in Amazon’s favor, setting the company up for another historic holiday season. The retail giant has almost single-handedly revolutionized delivery speed, and they’ve since launched same day delivery in over 40 markets. Their acquisition of Whole Foods gives them the ability to open pop ups for the first time, adding an in-store touchpoint to their previously pure-play approach to e-commerce.
Last year, Amazon sales made up 37% of all online holiday shopping in 2016, with Best Buy capturing the second largest share with 4%. With their move into brick and mortar and their ever-increasing base of Amazon Prime members, Amazon seems set for another record-breaking holiday season. Compounded by the increasing number of product searches that begin on Amazon, we’re predicting Amazon takes more than 50% of all online sales this year.
Overall, holiday shopping is becoming more convenient every year. The delivery options and online purchasing abilities are making it easier for consumers to shop when they went, wherever they want. With consumers more confident than years past and projected revenue to increase 15%, this season can pay dividends for retailers who have kept pace with shopping expectations.
But let’s not forget that this season isn’t just about the money spent by consumers, but about the time spent with family and friends. Happy Holidays!
Daphne Carmeli is CEO of Deliv