More than a third of all retailers began planning for the 2017 holiday shopping season at least one month earlier than they did in 2016, and online shoppers say price matters most during peak buying season, according to two new holiday surveys.
A new report from e-commerce software provider BigCommerce Pty. Ltd. finds that 31.05% of retailers surveyed started planning for the 2017 holiday shopping season one to two months earlier compared with the 2016 season, and 4.44% started their holiday planning three to four months earlier, while 53.79% started at the same time as they did last year. BigCommerce surveyed 1,018 of its merchant clients vie email from Aug. 28-Sept. 13. A BigCommerce spokeswoman says the company’s merchants define the holiday shopping season as Thanksgiving (Nov. 23 this year) through Christmas.
Retailers are starting their holiday planning earlier because they expect at least some kind of sales increase. Nearly 89% of the retailers surveyed (88.65%) said they anticipate a year-over-year sales bump compared with the 2016 holiday season, with more than half (50.28%) reporting that they expect a spike of 1% to 25%.
When it comes to driving sales via digital marketing, retailers surveyed said they expect a greater impact from Facebook ads than they do on their email marketing campaigns, but it was by a slim margin. The BigCommerce report finds that 51.61% of retailers surveyed think that Facebook will be the most effective digital marketing channel this holiday season, compared with 51.20% who say email will be the most effective, followed by Instagram at 29.32%, SEO at 24.90% and Google Shopping at 25.30%. Respondents were asked to pick their top three channels.
Regardless of marketing channel, retailers need to get to the point, fast. “This is not the time for retailers to wordsmith their way into a customer’s heart,” according to the report. “Shoppers are plagued with options as they browse during the holiday season, so merchants should let consumers’ eyes and emotions do the work by engaging them through visual means.”
In a survey of consumers conducted by online review community TrustPilot, shoppers said price and customer service will be most important when shopping online during the holidays.
TrustPilot surveyed 13,000 shoppers on its website from August to September of this year, and respondents could select multiple responses. Pricing is the most important factor for shoppers—62% named it as the top concern—when it comes to determining which online retailers to patronize during the holidays, while customer service (47.5%) and shipping and delivery (40.9%) ranked second and third, according to the vendor’s data. TrustPilot is the customer ratings reviews vendor for 15 retailers in the Internet Retailer 2017 Top 1000.
BigCommerce, which is the e-commerce platform provider to 25 retailers in the Top 1000, suggests in its report that retailers try to stand out by offering “unexpected promotions, such as free gift wrapping (showcasing their brand to the recipient); store credit for a future purchase (turning the purchaser into a return visitor); an exclusive, gated sale for holiday shoppers; or a Facebook trunk show. The uniqueness of the offering can add brand differentiation, and may be just the incentive a customer needs to complete the checkout process.”