OK fellow marketers.  Another holiday shopping season is almost behind us.  So let’s unwrap it and see what we’ve got.

As always, holiday retail sales kicked into gear while kids were still counting their Trick-or-Treat winnings.  Then things got amped up especially early this year with many retailers kicking off Black Friday specials far in advance.  We saw aggressive changes not only in timing, but also in execution as retailers respond to more and more shoppers going online.

Three key retail marketing trends are particularly notable as businesses adapt to new shopping behaviors:

    1. eCommerce is mainstream
      When 2012 numbers come in, it is estimated that Holiday eCommerce sales will be 15% higher than 2011. Online shopping now accounts for 10% of holiday spending, and retailers are working harder than ever to ensure their holiday season positioning and promotions are in place. Look out Black Friday, Cyber Monday is creeping on your turf, and some of the best deals are now found with the click of a mouse. Looking back, it seems as though every day ending in “Y” has been a Cyber “day”.

 

    1. Sharing information
      Last year, Mashable reported that 66% of all Black Friday and Cyber Monday purchases were influenced by social media activity. Strategic-minded shoppers reveal their deals beyond personal social gatherings by going online and posting likes, retweets, and shares.

      Target, one of the largest retailers, promoted their Black Friday specials well before Thanksgiving with shareable campaign-themed posts and even a Facebook game promising “sneak previews” of select sales and offers. And they weren’t alone – Walmart, Amazon and Sears combined for a 40% increase in Black Friday social media campaigns as compared to 2011.

      This approach seems to be working as, on average, social networks and emails drove 77% more sales conversions to retailers than they did in October.

 

  1. Showrooming
    It’s the new age retail equivalent of the test drive. Ever go to a store to try out the latest gadget and buy it online later? If you answered yes, then you, my friend are guilty of showrooming. Retailers have adopted an “if you can’t beat ‘em, join ‘em” attitude, embracing new approaches designed to drive shoppers to their store and engage them while they are there. When you visit Best Buy, Walmart and Apple Stores, for example, iPads and other electronics are on open display for liberal exploration… with helpful associates nearby to engage and assist. Many retailers offer specials that are only available for in-store purchases.

    The Harris Poll reported that 43% of consumers take advantage of of showrooming. Because of the great savings (and often free shipping), an astounding 57% of showroomers buy from Amazon.com. To put the impact on retailers into perspective- only 8% of people who go on to buy after they try products out at a Best Buy location will purchase that item on BestBuy.com, whereas 71% will order from Amazon.

With perpetually-changing trends in consumer behavior, retailers must adapt and change their strategy—and creatively. It’s a deal-eat-deal world out there.

Image  Source: Flickr- France3d