Holiday Predictions

  • by , Op-Ed Contributor, September 28, 2015
Summer is gone, and we are a month away from Halloween and gaining an hour of sleep. As marketers, publishers or service providers, this is the time of year when everyone is distracted, overstimulated and likely grasping for straws for how to do things better or differently from last year.  It’s the perfect time to get the crystal ball out and make a few predictions for this holiday retail season.  If you’re not a retailer, don’t stop reading — there’s a few nuggets for you too.

First prediction:  People will buy early, with many purchasing Christmas gifts before Halloween.  As early buyers look for deals, pay close attention to my fourth and five predictions below, as you’ll need to be far more creative in how you merchandise your brand experiences during this time.

Second prediction is that online sales will increase.  Shocker, right? Again trends last year, and early predictions by eMarketer this year suggest that retail sales in November and December could grow 5% over last year, reaching close to $885 million.  So, they consumers buying earlier — and then more during peak holiday times?  



Third predictions is that mobile commerce will continue to grow.  During key shopping days in 2014, mobile commerce accounted for almost 25% of online sales.   With the heavy press from last year and more responsive sites, bigger smartphone screen sizes and improved mobile payment options, this is an easy prediction.     

Fourth prediction is that showrooming ,  Web-rooming and in-store mobile browsing will continue to blur ecommerce boundaries.   While showrooming is the opposite of Web-rooming, the fact is that consumers want convenience and an interactive shopping and fulfillment experience.   

So don’t forget the foundational steps of any post purchase followup:  thanks, reviews, shares and cross-sell.  Don’t leave money on the table for the in-store online shopper or shop-and-pick-up customer.   Do remember, the most valuable parts of the purchase experience is when customers receive their goods. Work on that timing and how you communicate then — it offers a gold mine of brand value.

Last prediction: Customers will become less price-sensitive outside of a nutty Black Friday and Cyber Monday, when price is the goal and an experience. The biggest myth of the Internet was that customers could compare prices easier and would buy at the cheapest price.

So sell time over money.   In the age of the on-the-go consumer, the value of convenience will far outweigh matching discount strategies.  Watch this holiday season and you’ll see more and more marketers focusing on the Millennial and Gen-X audiences that put a premium on making the buying experience more genuine, convenient and adaptive, regardless of device preference.

If people buy earlier, sales increases during peak season, mobile continues to rise as a commerce channel and methods of shopping, buying and fulfillment aren’t as predictable, your ability to adapt to customers’ needs will be more vital.   Several things to keep your eye on to match these predictions:

-- Maximize the interaction. Whether it’s purchase, delivery or a post-store visit, be in a position to react.

-- Automate, but have some flexibility. Nothing is worse than a poorly thought-out automation program

-- Be smart about mobile. If you are an email marketer and have no influence on your mobile website, consider deep linking strategies with your mobile apps or even triggering off a mobile browse behavior at a later time.   When there is intent, you need to provide the motivation.

I’ll leave you with a quote from Arnold Glasow, author of “GloomBusters” and just a great American thinker: “The trouble with future is that it usually arrives before we’re ready for it.”   So — are you prepared?

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