You Decked the Halls, But the Shoppers Aren’t Coming

The 2015 holiday season is picking up steam! And you’ll soon be able to gauge whether your holiday marketing plan is on target. If things don’t go quite as you had expected, are you prepared to change course and salvage the season? Even if you’ve created a detailed contingency plan, consider some fresh consumer research before deciding how to re-ignite the season.

Understand Shifting Buying Patterns     

If consumers aren’t responding to Thanksgiving Day promotions, don’t be alarmed. A recent poll of 1,000 holiday shoppers conducted by Bronto finds that only 2% percent of shoppers plan to start their shopping on Thanksgiving Day. Faced with a public backlash against mixing stuffing and sales, retailers are pulling back from opening stores on Thanksgiving. While that won’t necessarily affect ecommerce, it could.

Also, realize that 18% of shoppers 50 and older, along with one out of four male shoppers, won’t start shopping until after Cyber Monday. On the other hand, if Millennials aren’t responding to email promotions for Black Friday, you’ll need a re-engagement strategy because 22% percent of shoppers ages 18-29 plan to get started on Black Friday, with the month of November their second favorite starting time. If you wait until early December, you could lose this group.

Add Free Shipping to Your Lineup

More than a third of holiday shoppers (38%) won’t shop with a site that doesn’t offer free shipping, while only 16% of holiday shoppers said free shipping does not influence their purchase decisions. In contrast, only 18% of online-only merchants and 30% of multi-channel retailers offer free shipping all the time. Consider at least dropping order minimums for free shipping or emphasize policies such as free in-store pickup or in-store returns. At minimum, make sure your shipping costs are as transparent as possible so shoppers aren’t surprised at checkout.

Two Holiday Sweaters Instead of One

Shoppers don’t just like a buy-one-get-one promotion for orange juice and yogurt, they also love to see these offers for the holidays (52%). But only 38% of retailers (in a separate survey) say they plan to offer them. This could be the perfect option for slower-selling merchandise you absolutely must offload during the holidays. Other specials that entice shoppers: 66% of females like a free gift with purchase promotion – think about offering items that work as hostess gifts, teacher gifts or stocking stuffers. If you want to pump up sales in the 18-29 demographic, consider a flash sale as 54% of shoppers in this demographic love them.

Send Them a Festive Cart Reminder

Shoppers are not as averse to cart reminders as commerce marketers might think as 42% consider them helpful. But since that isn’t a resounding majority, consider gender and age segments when choosing to send them. Forty-five percent of female shoppers consider them helpful, as do 61% of shoppers ages 18-29 and 45% of those 30-39.

A majority of online shoppers (73%) use the shopping cart to store items to possibly buy later (88% for shoppers 18-29). What do they expect in a reminder message?

  • 48% expect just a reminder.
  • 37% expect a coupon or discount code.
  • 15% expect a free shipping offer.

Males and younger shoppers are more interested in free shipping offers, while shoppers ages 49 and under are attracted to coupons and discount codes. If you have a physical location, you can remind shoppers to check out the items in person – 40% say they plan to do that anyhow.

As you tweak your contingency plans this week, try incorporating some of these strategies to ensure a merry holiday season.

Jim Davidson is Head of Research for Bronto Software