Tune-Up Tips: Holiday Shopper Edition

June 24, 2019

(Editor’s note: This is part of a monthly series about tuning up different aspects of marketing activities.)

Forget working on your suntan. Let’s work on getting ready for the holidays.

Before you start to groan, shoppers start preparing for the holidays in July. Four in 10 shoppers used Amazon’s Prime Day on July 26, 2018 to buy holiday gift cards and about 1 in 5 shoppers between ages 18-34 used Prime Day to finish 25% of their 2018 holiday shopping.

Not only do you need to be ready for those early-bird shoppers who may be visiting your store soon, but it’s also time to start planning your holiday promotions out. Better to get planning before you get too busy to prepare properly! We provide 5 tips to help you get your holiday marketing on track for 2019 and provide a mini-dive overviewing 2018 holiday shopping.

Tip #1: Set Up Your Social Media Strategy

Both marketers and shoppers are turning to social media for holiday help. The 88% of marketers who ran a holiday ad campaign in 2018 said it was effective.

55% of consumers of (global) holiday shoppers said that Facebook influenced their holiday shopping and 39% said that Instagram had influenced their holiday shopping. Both Facebook and Instagram users look to their social media channels for holiday gift inspiration.

You don’t need to sell directly through social media to launch a viable social media strategy. Inspire holiday shoppers to give with your social media strategy! We suggest including unique gift ideas and holiday savings in your social media strategy.

Tip #2: Set Up for Smartphones

More consumers used mobile devices to make holiday decisions. than prior years In 2018, 66% of consumers did while 63% did so in 2017. 88% of shoppers ages 18-24 used mobile during Thanksgiving Day weekend and 87% of shoppers ages 24-34 used their mobile devices for 2018 Thanksgiving Day shopping.

40% of consumers use their smartphones to conduct holiday research. Holiday shoppers use their mobile devices to browse, discover and research what purchases to make before they visit a store. In-store, consumers use their smartphones to compare prices, compare products, take pictures, read product reviews and look for coupons or discounts.

It’s clear that smartphones are playing a growing role in the holiday shopper’s path to purchase. Some ways to plan for successful smartphone usage include:

Optimize your website content with mobile in mind

Add a Holiday Gift Ideas page to your website (or Holiday Meal Headquarters—whichever makes the most sense for your business)

If your website is not set up for customer reviews on your site, add links to product reviews for your shoppers

Include photos of gift suggestions

Tip #3: Dig the Discount

Promote early and often—a discount can make or make a sale.

Three in 4 consumers said that sales/promotions are either extremely or very important to them. Discounts are so important that 85% of shoppers said that they have backed out of buying an item because it was not on sale (even if they really wanted that item). And 66% of consumers said they planned to shop during Thanksgiving weekend to take advantage of sales/discounts last year.

Cyber Monday had a record 31% average discount rate in 2019. Most marketers sent out SMS and email notifications early in the week to grow Cyber Monday sales.

Marketing tactics drove 50% of holiday weekend revenue in 2018. Those tactics included paid search, email and social media.

Plan out discounts your company will offer and use your digital channels to share your holiday discounts early and often!

Tip #4: Consider Offering Click & Collect

Holiday shoppers are showing an increasing interest in ordering online and picking up their purchases in-store.

Total click and collect orders increased 47% year-over-year from November 1 to December 19 from 2017 to 2018. Buy online, pick up in-store (BOPIS) sales increased 50% during the 5-day Thanksgiving weekend from 2017 to 2018.

However, BOPIS holiday shoppers tended to buy fewer items that were less expensive than the purchases that in-store shoppers made. The average BOPIS order contained 1.9 items while the average in-store order contained 2.7 units. The average BOPIS shopper spent $38 while most in-store shoppers spent $42 per trip.

Consider offering click and collect services to meet the growing demand. If click and collect is not feasible, can you find other ways to streamline holiday shopping for your customers?

Tip #5: Test, Test and Re-Test

Test everything before launching it live to consumers. How do your email blasts look on a smartphone? Does your website display correctly? Can your website handle the higher traffic volume?

Testing is an important step that is often overlooked. Additional testing may have saved to major retailers from their embarrassing Black Friday blunders in 2018. J. Crew offered 50% all online orders on Black Friday. Unfortunately, online shoppers were greeted with a screen that said J. Crew’s website was experiencing more traffic than usual, preventing consumers from completing their transactions. J. Crew fixed the site, released an apology via social media and extended the sale through Cyber Monday. Lowe’s website also stopped working on Black Friday. When faced with an online message that said Lowe’s site was down for “maintenance,” many shoppers went elsewhere.

Mini Dive: Holiday Shopping Overview

Total holiday sales reached over $850 billion in 2018, which was a 5% increase over 2017. We will examine holiday shopping, Thanksgiving weekend spending and early holiday shoppers in this mini-dive.

Early Holiday Shoppers

Many shoppers start their holiday gift hunt early.

Last year, 45% of consumers started their holiday shopping by October. Of those early bird holiday shoppers, 6% started in January and  86% started in June.

Why do they shop so early? About 50% of consumers said because they want to feel prepared; 38% want to avoid crowds and 21% said because the holidays stress them out.

But just because they start early doesn’t mean they get it all done. 22% of holiday shoppers expect to finish their shopping before December.

Some are holding out for those last-minute deals. 17% of consumers shop at the last minute because they expect better deals closer to the holidays.

Only 6% of holiday shoppers wait until the week of Christmas to start their holiday shopping. The least revenue in the 2018 season was Christmas Eve with $880 million.

Thanksgiving Weekend

Over 165 million U.S. consumers shopped Thanksgiving Day through Cyber Monday in 2018. The average shopper spent $313.29 on gifts and holiday items during this five-day period, $217.37 of which (69%) was on gifts. This was a 5% decrease from 2017, in which the average consumer spent $335.47 on gifts and holiday items during the same time period.

Over 89 million people were multi-channel shoppers (both online and in-store), which was up almost 40% from 2017. Multi-channel shoppers spent an average of $93 more than single-channel shoppers.

Cyber Monday was the most popular day for online shopping, followed by Black Friday. There was $6 billion in total digital spending on Cyber Monday, which was 28% growth in total digital spending from the previous year. Over $2 billion in Cyber Monday’s sales occurred between 7 to 11 p.m. PST, which was the most active period of Cyber Monday. Conversions were about twice the day’s average during this active period.

Black Friday was the most popular day for in-store shopping, followed by Small Business Saturday. Thanksgiving Day was the biggest day for social media usage—94% of all website to retail traffic came from Facebook and Instagram, which was up from 92% in 2017.

There was significant growth in mobile spending. Mobile spending grew 38% on Thanksgiving  and 6% on Black Friday.

Holiday Shopping

Three in 4 holiday shoppers expected to visit at least 3 brick-and-mortar stores for Christmas gifts. What makes consumers spend more with a specific retailer?

67% Lowest price point on a specific item

64% Free shipping

51% Best sales/discounts throughout the weekend

Customers don’t just use their smartphones to make purchases. The top uses for mobile in holiday shopping include tracking the status of their orders, browsing for gifts online, comparing prices and getting a store’s location.

Editor’s note: This is another entry in our monthly Tune-Up Tips series. Look for our next Tune-Up Tips: Direct Mail Edition on July 8, 2019.

Read the previous entries in our Tune-Up Series:

Tune-Up Tips: Social Media Edition

Tune-Up Tips: Email Edition

Tune-Up Tips: Digital Marketing Edition

Tune-Up Tips: App Edition

Tune-Up Tips: Websites Edition

Service Tags: 
Email Marketing
Social Media Management
Marketing Strategy