Holiday Nerves: Retailers Sweat Short Season, Amazon, Tariffs, Adobe Reports

Retailers are as merry as they can be about the pending holiday shopping madness, according to Adobe Holiday Retailer Survey, a new study by Adobe Analytics.  

Of the brands surveyed, 66% expect their sales to top last year’s. But 33% do not foresee an increase, and 41% are concerned about the shorter season. 

Worse, from a national news angle, 51% have had to increase prices of some products because of tariff costs. And 56% fear Amazon.

Those issues aside, the study identified a few major marketing trends.

One is that that email will be a critical tool — 73% use the channel to communicate with customers, second only to company websites, which are leveraged by 83%. Another 72% utilize social media, and 62% are sending holiday-specific marketing emails, texts or social posts.

Another key trend is the Buy Online, Pick Up In Store (BOPIS) service, which is growing in importance. It is offered by 55% overall, including 64% of those with sales of over $10 million and 42% of those that are lower. 



Among the higher-tier firms, 48% say BOPIS provides a significant portion of their sales, And 45% of the smaller firms agree.  Among international brands, 57% offer BOPIS, as do 62% of national firms and 59% of regional firms. Strangely, only 46% of local retailers provide the service.

Then there’s experiential shopping — i.e., mock showrooms/AR experiences that add to the shopping experience. The study shows that 56% are creating them.

Loyalty programs should also grow, given that 66% call them a benefit to their businesses.

Voice tech is another high-tech tool — 62% plan to use it to drive sales in the future, although 7% do so now.

But worries remain. The top concerns for those selling products online: 

  • Staying price competitive — 40% 
  • Shipping to consumers (on time) — 23%
  • Converting visits — 22% 

Competing on “perks” such as free shipping, and driving website traffic — 20%

Apart from sending holiday-specific emails and text, retailers are deploying the following to engage their customers during the Yuletide run-up: 

  • Mobile payments such as Apple Pay, Google Wallet — 52%
  • Push personalized offers, coupons — 47% 
  • Location based marketing — 44%
  • In-store free wifi used for customer tracking — 34% 
  • Point-of-sale dashboard — 34%
  • Alternative currencies or payments (Paypal, Bitcoin) — 29%
  • Augmented reality — 6% 

Finally, despite the heated atmosphere that now prevails, 62% are keeping politics out of their advertising. But what about the other 38%?

Adobe Analytics surveyed 403 U.S. retailers with annual revenue of over $500,000.


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