In an always-on world, nothing is constant. Paradigms shift and if you’re not paying attention what once was a failsafe plan becomes obsolete with the release of a new algorithm. But, not to worry, that’s where we come in. Our team of experts is here to guide you through the ever-changing of digital commerce.

In order to understand where we are going, we need to understand where we have been.

In November and December of 2017, retail sales in the US clambered 5.5% with an additional 17.8% boost in retail ecommorce sales. Predictions suggest that this trend will decline somewhat with a total retail sales growth of 3.8% and ecomm sales growing by 15.3%.

The surge in mobile shopping will continue and experts suggest total US retail mcommerce sales (yes, that is what we are calling mobile sales now) to grow 32.7% this year. For reference, US retail mobile sales climbed more than 40% in Q4 last year.

Stay sharp, because shoppers have been conditioned to start looking for deals early. So, leverage your data and invest in state-of-the-art tools that allow you to gain insights faster, so you can take action sooner. Continue reading to remain agile this season, or check out our comprehensive holiday guide full of key insights and industry trends.

Retailers can acquire up to 59% more customers during the holiday season. In 2016, Black Friday and Cyber Monday shifted from two days into an entire weekend of sales. We saw bigger discounts, longer sales periods, and an increase in shoppers and order sizes,” said Paige Gerber, Head of Marketing, Vantage.

Shopping Habits:

Last year, deals started cropping up in early November. Which, has prompted somewhat of a cascade effect that we are sure to see continue in 2018.

Customers have come to expect more sales around Thanksgiving. These six days (Thanksgiving through Cyber-Tuesday, as researchers are now referring to it) accounted for 16.2% of ecomm holiday spend in 2015, 16.8% in 2016 and 17.7% last year. A trend that is likely to continue.

Long before your gift and décor options are on your site, many of your consumers already started thinking about what to purchase. Make sure you stay top of mind, as they make their mental lists! Cater to holiday décor shoppers by promoting holiday via your digital channels, and ‘give permission’ to shoppers who wonder if it’s too early to start tackling their list now. Is it ever too early to be prepared?

Pro tip: Enhance the shopping experience with offline and online channel integration.

Yes, Marketplaces are Still Important:

Online buyers are turning to Amazon to start their product search with increased frequency. Studies show that 97% of online shoppers in the US have made a purchase on an online marketplace. Yes, you read that right. And only two short years ago that statistic was only 85%. The thing is, Amazon is the first place (site or app) that consumers visit when shopping marketplaces (54%), followed by Google (15%) and Walmart (6%).

Last year, Amazon’s Black Friday sales brought in close to $1.4 billion dollars. Or, 27% of total online shopping for that day. Not to be outdone…by themselves, Amazon brought in almost $2 billion dollars on Cyber Monday accounting for 30% of total online sales.

It might go without saying, but Amazon is a force to reckon with and be a part of. So, you want to dip a toe in? Start with paid advertising, directing users to your website vs. marketplace listings to gauge opportunity for your business.

For more tips, check out our holiday guide.

Next Gen:

Here’s the thing, Millennials are leading fashion ecomm growth and Gen Z isn’t as reliant on mobile as one might think. Yes, it is true that a majority of Gen Zers spend the most time on their smartphones, however, they still show a fondness for brick-and-mortar stores. This trend could stem from the fact that close to a third of Gen Zers research an item online before heading to the store to make a purchase in-person.

Mobile search plays a key role in driving foot traffic for retailers. To buoy that, recent studies show that more than 80% of consumers use their mobiles to search for products and retailers “near me.” By leveraging “near me’ keywords, brands can gain visibility in local searches.

While desktop still garners a great portion of online apparel sales, all the growth in the apparel sector in the first three quarters came from mobile shopping.

“In 2017, millennials were the only generation to see growth in online apparel sales—to the tune of 4 percent, which represented $2 billion in incremental sales,” he said. “But these same retailers also need to understand and fulfill the desires of millennials’ even younger counterparts, Gen Z.” – John Roswech, executive vice president of brand solutions, Criteo, New York

Channels That Matter to Your Shoppers:

Studies show that consumers have come to expect changes in prices and variations across channels. That’s not to say that they like this nuisance, but brands have conditioned consumers to hunt for a deal

“Social ads are a must! Get in front of shoppers where they already spend the majority of their time and show them with a beautifully built ad why your product is a must-buy this holiday season.” – Paige Gerber, Head of Marketing, Vantage

And then there is email. Ok, email might not be as glamorous as social. But, it is still the preferred method to receive brand offers.

“On average, retailers increase their email frequency to their subscribers by roughly 50% during November and December, compared to non-holiday months. That’s a lot of extra emails that have to get designed, coded and QAed. Starting early can help marketers avoid rushing later.” – Chad White, Research Director, Litmus

Need for Speed:

Half of web users expect site load time to be under 2 seconds or they are gone. Basically, anything more than 3 seconds and you’ve been forgotten. If you think you’re fast, you’re not fast enough. Google likes blistering fast sites so much it is preparing to move to what it is calling a ‘mobile first‘ index in 2018. Read, slow load times on mobile can negatively impact a site’s ranking

79% of online shoppers say they will not return to a site if they have had trouble with load time in the past.

It isn’t hard to tell that this world has fundamentally, and irreversibility changed, and it all started with the launch of the smartphone. Technology has given us real-time access to just about anything (life without GrubHub, what would that be like?).

The challenge for marketers? How can a brand find new and authentic ways to connect to their audiences?

It is true that marketers in this oversaturated space are under relentless pressure to stand out. However, there is a silver lining, in many ways, this is a time of opportunity! Brands have never had as much data as they do now. It isn’t really so much about the amount of data, but what you’re doing with the data. Be sure you’re tracking the right data, you know, the data that means something to your business and your unique KPIs.

The holiday season is always a bit stressful (to say the least) but that is why we are here. To let you know you have someone in your corner. And if you ever have questions, we’d be happy to chat with you. After all, we are data nerds with a marketing soul.