The Holidays Are Here! 3 Holiday Online Shopping Trends to Watch for in 2016

Welcome to the Holiday Season 2016! This is undoubtedly the most important time of year for many retailers and consumers. Shoppers are out in full force seeking out the best deals and are wasting no time to jump on the latest offerings. According to data from the National Retail Federation, more than 154 million consumers have shopped over Thanksgiving weekend, up from 151 million shoppers in 2015 https://nrf.com/resources/consumer-data/holiday-headquarters.

The data is not surprising given that consumers are increasingly shifting more of their attention online. Changes in consumer behavior and the accelerating adoption rate of new technologies (e.g. mobile devices) are also contributing factors. It pays to look closely at emerging online trends to gain useful insights.

Below are some of the most impactful online shopping trends this holiday season.

1. Early Holiday Shopping

Black Friday and Cyber Monday are two of the biggest shopping days of the year. According to the National Retail Federation (2016), 55.7 percent of shoppers have already started buying holiday gifts, the second-highest level in the history of the survey, down slightly from the record 56.6 percent at the same time last year https://nrf.com/media/press-releases/more-half-of-consumers-have-already-started-holiday-shopping.

Walmart is promising savings on a broad selection of its products from electronics to toys for eight weeks. This is in stark contrast to the usual limited time only deals that many retailers offer. Target is also launching major sales early with additional perks including free shipping and an expanded Price Match Policy beyond the 14 day window. Users of its Cartwheel app can browse deals on hundreds of products including half off on a different toy every day until Christmas Eve.

Other retailers including Amazon and Kohl's have also started to offer early online promotions and sales.

Main takeaway: Consumers are doing more of their holiday shopping early. Consider offering storewide discounts or other perks to attract more sales to your site.

2. Growth of Mobile Sales

Mobile usage has seen explosive growth in the last few years alone. More consumers than ever before are now using mobile devices including smartphones and tablets to shop online. These usage patterns will contribute significantly to online sales this holiday season as they already have in previous years. In fact, Amazon and Target have both reported that 60% of their holiday traffic to their sites last year came from mobile devices.

Mobile will undoubtedly play a major role in the explosive growth of online sales this holiday season. But retailers risk losing sales to competing brands if their site isn't optimized for mobile devices. A survey from Google found that 52% of users were less likely to engage with a company if it had a poor mobile experience.

Main takeaway: A significant amount of online holiday sales are expected to occur on mobile devices. Invest in a mobile friendly design for your site to capture and convert more visitors.

3. Online Personalization

Personalization is another growing trend that creates a compelling customer experience. It makes customers feel more valued and appreciated with a personal touch. But personalization goes beyond simply welcoming back a returning customer. It uses existing data about a customer to create a more personal shopping experience which in turn contributes to higher brand loyalty.

A Traf-Sys survey found that 78% of consumers are more likely to be repeat customers if a retailer caters to their preferences with personalized offers. Another survey from the E-tailing Group Inc. found that 59% of shoppers indicated it was easier to find what they were looking for when retailers personalized the shopping experience.

Personalization is key to increasing brand loyalty and even attracting new customers. Whether it's greeting new site visitors, sending personalized emails, or tailoring deals based on previous purchasing history, adding a more personal touch creates a unique shopping experience.

Main takeaway: Many customers actually want a more personal shopping experience tailored to their preferences. Increase engagement during the holidays by incorporating personalization into your campaigns.

The year is quickly coming to a close so shoppers are in full swing. Understanding the latest trends as detailed above ensures a strong competitive advantage. It's not too late to start planning and implementing your own marketing campaigns to prepare for the holiday rush.