Top 3 eCommerce Trends of the Holiday Season
The holiday season is the single most important season for ecommerce professionals. In fact, holiday shoppers generate almost half (40%) of total annual retail revenue (National Retail Federation, 2013). That’s a lot of spending, and a great opportunity to engage both new and existing customers.
It’s no surprise that, according to Comscore, the top 10 heaviest online spending days in 2012 happened during the holiday season—with November 26 or “Cyber Monday” coming in first place at $1.465 billion in spending. From our own perspective, LivePerson hosted a record breaking 860,000 live chats last Cyber-Monday, an increase of 30% over 2011 figures.
There is no better time to engage your customers by delivering an outstanding customer experience, than during the busy holiday rush. It’s crucial to have a strong customer engagement strategy in place— you only have a matter of seconds to win over customers from the competition, and you need to know when and how your customers want to be engaged.
2012 Holiday Shoppers Seek Personalized, Real-Time Customer Service
During the 2012 holiday season, online shopping spend during the first 32 days of the season increased by 14% as compared to the previous year (Comscore, 2012). More shoppers purchased in 2012, and to further fuel the upturn, the amount spent per person also increased.
This upward trend is expected to continue into 2013. In its 2013 online holiday sales forecast, Shop.org expects online sales in November and December to grow between 13-15 percent over last holiday season to as much as $82 billion (Shop.org, 2013).
To prepare for 2013 success this holiday season, we suggest learning from the leading trends, demands and habits that emerged during last year’s most profitable quarter.
1. Sites offering a high quality shopping experience will win the Cyber Monday battle
In 2012, Cyber Monday was the “heaviest online spending day in history,” (Comscore, 2012). You’ve covered the basics, and made sure that your website is optimized to handle a heavy onslaught of traffic— but are you prepared to deliver a high-quality experience, at the one to one level, to a larger volume of shoppers? By engaging more “ready to buy” web visitors with real-time assistance or personalized deals, you can maximize conversion rates and boost average order values. From 2011 to 2012, cyber Monday saw a 30% increase in online sales with online activity peaking at 11:25 a.m. (IBM, 2012). These numbers validate a well thought out strategy, tailored to maximize the influx of cyber Monday shoppers seeking special deals.
Other key shopping days to plan for include Black Friday, December 4 and December 10 (Comscore, 2012).
2. Shoppers Demanded Omni-Channel in 2012
Holiday spenders consulted several channels while making a purchase decision in 2012. From Google Think Insights:
“63% of shoppers used multiple devices to help with their holiday purchases.”
Google also found a direct correlation between number of channels used along the customer journey, and amount of money spent-- in 2012, those who consulted more channels shopped more! Ecommerce pros have the opportunity to profit by engaging customers across multiple devices. You want customers to connect with you however they prefer, whether it be your website, mobile site, tablet app, etc., so think of how your customers are using each channel, and find how to optimize the experience for each. Most importantly, you must offer a seamless omni-channel experience, one that provides consistent quality and functionality from one device to the next.
3. 2012 Shoppers Preferred Meaningful, Real-Time Engagement
Great customer service impressed holiday shoppers during 2012. During last year’s holiday season, Live Chat was the top-choice customer service support channel, according to LivePerson’s Holiday Ecommerce Survey in 2012. Customers appreciate the ability to interact with a salesperson in real-time, without having to leave the website. From LivePerson:
“94% are likely to use Live Chat to get help online while shopping.”
Holiday shoppers are likely shopping for several items and appreciate convenience and efficiency. By offering customer service support in real-time (whether via voice, video or chat), consumers are more likely to find what they need and complete their purchase successfully. Also by providing an optimal experience, customers are more likely to come back long after the holidays are over.
During the holidays, it’s more critical than ever to deliver a high-quality customer experience. Does your team have a strategy that’s customized specifically for holiday shoppers? Make sure your strategy aligns with last year’s trends, as well as more recent retail trends.
A high-quality holiday strategy will include omni-channel marketing, personalized messaging and real-time engagement. Stay tuned for the second post in LivePerson’s holiday series for more details on the steps to take to optimize the holiday shopping experience.
What significant trends did you or your company report during last year’s holiday season? Please feel free to share your comments below.