3 Key Highlights From IBM’s Online Retail Holiday Readiness Report

christmas-holiday-summer-300It’s Christmas… In July… And retailers need to be ready for Cyber Weekend 2014 and beyond. As consumers cash-in on summer sales, with swimsuits, sundresses and sunscreen dominating shopping carts, retailers are prepping for the most crucial shopping period of the year.

For those retailers looking to score big this holiday season, it’s all about personalization, engaging customer experiences, and of course, mobile.

Here are three key highlights from IBM’s Seventh Annual Online Retail Holiday Readiness Report, compiled from the cloud-based IBM Digital Analytics Benchmark:

Consumers Spending More Dollars Online


Average order value and items per order both reached new three-year highs according to the IBM Digital Analytics Benchmark. In part, these increases are thanks to an economic upswing, with consumer spending up across the board. In fact, according to the U.S. Commerce Department, consumer spending in March rose at its fastest pace in nearly five years.

In terms of online spending, increases in AOV and items per order suggest retailers are savvier than ever when it comes to delivering a streamlined online shopping experience – making it easy for consumers to find items and providing an enticing brand experience.

To capitalize on this trend, heading into the holidays, retailers will need to rely on personalization and cross-sell recommendations to further strengthen customer relationships and wallets.

Consumer Attention Spans Dwindle


According to the U.S. National Library Association, the average attention span of an adult is eight seconds – and those eight seconds shrink to just four when it comes to online shopping. Fueled by the growth of mobile users, who make quick and abbreviated visits to retail sites, online retailers saw average time on site sink to a new low in September 2013 of just 7:09.

Page views per session also hit a new bottom of 6.93 in March 2014, two fewer pages than the same period in 2012. What does this mean for retailers? Ultimately, shoppers have little tolerance for poor customer experiences – if they can’t find what they need, they’re moving on.

To ensure a seamless customer experience this holiday season, marketers should consider investing in customer experience management technologies to identify customer struggle and quickly resolve onsite problems, which can ultimately lead to lost revenue.

To enhance the visitor experience, marketers and retailers might consider improving site navigation, providing useful content like how-to guides and user forums, as well as ensuring a consistent brand image across channels.

Mobile Continues to Dominate

christmas-in-july-shift-to-mobileIt’s no surprise; mobile will continue to play a significant and dominating role in online shopping this holiday season. Mobile sales, both smartphones and tablets, reached a high of 19.1 percent of all site sales this past December, up three-fold from December 2011. Mobile site traffic reached a record of 38.2 percent in March 2014, more than double that of March 2012.

As a result, the IBM Digital Analytics Benchmark predicts these figures to continue to rise, with mobile accounting for more than 20 percent of site sales and more than 43 percent of site traffic come November 2014.

To succeed this holiday season, retailers will need to pay attention to both device type and operating system, to better focus their mobile app and analytics investments, while at the same time ensuring a flawless customer experience between devices and operating systems.

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