Forecasts expect a robust holiday sales season in which online sales growth will again outpace overall retail sales. Emarketer projects that ecommerce sales will rise nearly 17% this year (versus 5% growth in retail overall) and could make up 8.4% of all holiday season sales. That said, a late Thanksgiving Day again this year – which is thought to have cost retailers more than a billion in potential online sales in 2013 – has the potential to upend this growth.
7 Key Strategies: Combat the Short 2014 Holiday Sales Season
US consumers have been conditioned to wait for Black Friday for the best deals and when Thanksgiving falls late in the season, retailers miss out on important shopping days. Here are 7 key strategies to make every day in Holiday 2014 count based on last year's lessons. [Want more trend data? Check out Slideshare.]
#1. Think Thanksgiving Week…the Whole Week
Advertisers and Publishers should take advantage of ramping sales activity during Thanksgiving week and not overlook Thanksgiving Day itself as a day to turn up the engagement with shoppers. Advertisers in the Women's category should particularly take note of this week's sales opportunity—last year sales in this category were very strong mid-week.
#2. Get Creative on Timing
On Black Friday last year, 26% of sales on that day were completed on either a tablet or smartphone, according to Adobe Digital Index. Evolving growth in mobile connectivity means more shoppers are engaged at all hours and more opportunities exist for Publishers and Advertisers to entice with gift ideas and offers. Affiliate marketers this year should consider what they can offer to engage shoppers during non-work hours and on weekends.
#3. Consider Cyber Sunday
The day before Cyber Monday is emerging as a new shopping day for always-connected consumers. Given the time constraints of the holiday season, shoppers last year were inclined to pull the trigger on purchases even before Cyber Monday. In addition, many purchases during the weekend between Black Friday and Cyber Monday happened on tablets and smartphones (Adobe).
#4. Gift Guides
With fewer days to shop, holiday shoppers will need easy and efficient tools to help them get the job done and gift guides fit the bill. Advertisers should have gift guides available on site (and then create tracking links to them so that Publishers can drive shoppers right to them). Publishers should connect shoppers with these guides by either highlighting them on their own sites.
#5. Amp up Mondays in December
Holiday 2013 suggests that shoppers try to make up for a shortened shopping season by shopping more in December. Mondays in December, as a result, are very important for retailers—days like December 8 (Green Monday) and December 15 this year are key opportunities for taking back the sales lost by fewer shopping days between Black Friday and Christmas. In addition, late-shipping snafus that occurred last year (which resulted in many last-minute orders not arriving by Christmas) have potentially dulled shoppers' confidence in ordering late—thus, these two dates will be viewed as safer and more attractive shopping days.
#6. Drive Shoppers In-Store
Holiday 2013 shows us that sales will begin to migrate offline after December 18 (Free Shipping Day), but affiliate marketers can continue to get a share of holiday sales by focusing on site to store-type promotions and gift cards. Between December 18 and 24, Publishers should actively promote offers for stores which track purchases tied to affiliate-channel offers. In addition, gift card purchases are perfect last-minute items to promote in the days leading up to Christmas.
#7. Meet the Post-Christmas Need
Last year's post-Christmas sales were more robust than previous years, suggesting that some shopping needs (or wants) were not met with pre-Christmas shopping. Advertisers in the Virtual Malls, Shoes, Women's and Outdoors categories were top categories on the day after Christmas. If shopper sentiment is similar to last year, more categories can seize the opportunity of post-Christmas shopping.
Mark Your Calendars!
Top 2014 holiday sales days as projected by CJ:
Holiday 2014 – Key Shopping Days
November 27 (Thanksgiving Day)
November 28 (Black Friday)
November 30 (Cyber Sunday)
December 1 (Cyber Monday)
December 8 (Green Monday)
Key 2014 shopping days for top Advertiser categories: