3 Major eCommerce Trends Driving Sales for Retailers this Holiday Season

By Drew Hendricks December 04, 2014

Black Friday, Small Business Saturday and Cyber Monday are just around the corner. Historically, these have been known as the biggest shopping days of the year - this year it gets even better, especially for businesses engaged in e-commerce. While holiday season retail sales are expected to grow at a steady 4-4.5 percent, as with previous years, online sales are expected to increase by a whopping 13.5-14 percent (Deloitte). Translation: get your products online now!

Source: Statista

Don't move too quickly, though. With the massive amount of competition and the ever-changing digital shopping landscape, it's not going to be easy to stand out in the sea of amazing deals.

Here are some of the top consumer shopping trends we'll be seeing this season and how businesses can take advantage of them.

1. Researching Prices Online Before Purchase

A good online deal won't always get you the sale because a better price may be just a few clicks away. Online shoppers are well-versed in the art of bargain hunting and they even have dedicated websites and mobile apps to help in their search for the best offer.

Businesses wanting to capitalize on this trend need to do two things. Firstly, you need to be where your customers are. Most shopping apps like PriceGrabber, ShopSavvy and RedLaser, allow businesses to add their products and offers to the site.

Once you're a part of the search, you need to optimize pricing to ensure customers pick you.

With thousands of retailers to compete with and millions of products to keep track of, this won’t be an easy task and should never be attempted manually. With the democratization of big data, we’re seeing new, affordable and innovative ways of using the vast amount of pricing data we have access to. An innovative price monitoring service like Wiser is perfect for this. Their service automatically pulls pricing data from millions of online stores and sources, allowing retailers to price their products competitively. In addition, their dynamic pricing allows online retailers set rules that allow the system to automatically change store prices in real-time in response to market pricing shifts. So you'll always have the perfect price at the right time to win customers.

2. Shopping on Mobile Devices

As previously mentioned, apps are all the rage this season. 33% of holiday sales are expected to occur on mobile devices and tablets.

Source: ForwardDigital

Many of these sales come as a result of recommendations on social media. Once people see a tweet or Facebook post with a great deal they want - they'll take advantage right away so they don't lose out.

This means businesses need to optimize their social media, website and landing pages for mobile viewing. Use Twitter product cards and social media optimized images to ensure that whenever persons share your product, people can see an image and description too (which get a lot more attention that text-only tweets). Use Facebook and Twitter ads to get your deal in front of niche audiences - the smaller, the better.

Twitter Product Card example. Source: Social Media Examiner

Ensure that the links for deals lead back to the product sales page or a custom landing page for that specific offer, not just your homepage. You want to make the process as easy as possible to avoid frustrating and losing customers. Our short attention spans will not allow us to search endlessly for your deal or fill out 20 fields on our phones.

One thing you don't need to do is throw all your money into developing an app. Customers have limited space on their devices and they'd much rather hear from friends and other consumers through search than relying on your perfectly curated app.

3. Frictionless In-Store Shopping Using Mobile Devices

Open your door, give us free Wi-Fi and let us roam.

The thought of showrooming, where persons come into a store just to view a product but buy online from somewhere else with cheaper pricing, is enough to drive retailers crazy. Statistics show that 58% of those using mobile devices in stores are actually checking out competitors' prices.

But that fear might be unfounded. 38% of those shoppers also said they are simply researching product information and reviews. It's also been said that customers using smartphones during in-store tend to spend 25-50% more than those who aren't. And since they are already in your store, you have the ability to capture that sale before they leave.

Source: Shopatron

So how do you do it? Well, it's not by sending a pushy salesperson over to distract us from our intense searching process. It's grabbing our attention where we already are - our smartphones!

Shopping apps, like those mentioned above, give users the ability to set up alerts to be notified of the best deals. They also have geo-location targeting capabilities that push notifications to devices when customers are close to stores. Some of these apps, like RedLaser, give customers the ability to pay online and check out automatically, eliminating the long lines and waiting times.

If you aren't able to take advantage of these just yet, you can still capitalize on this trend on a tiny budget. Offer specials on apps like Foursquare for when persons check into your vicinity or store. You should also make sure your Google My Business profile is properly filled out to get the most out of local searches and, if the budget allows, use geo-targeted Google Ads that show up when customers are searching while in your area.

As you can see, there are numerous ways to capitalize on this year's hot shopping trends, but you need to get to work right now to ensure that you don't miss out on what's sure to be a lucrative season for businesses engaging in e-commerce.

Edited by Stefania Viscusi
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