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Shop.org: Online retailers prep for holidays early

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Washington, D.C. – Many online retailers are starting or have started their holiday preparations early this year. According to Shop.org’s eHoliday survey conducted by Prosper Insights & Analytics, 74% of online retailers had started preparing for the 2013 holiday season by July of this year, and 51% plan to start their holiday promotions by Halloween.

Online retailers are also looking to mobile commerce to boost profits this holiday season. More than half (57.4%) have invested in optimizing their mobile websites, nearly four-in-10 (38.3%) have invested heavily in the smartphone user experience, and one-quarter (25.5%) say they invested in mobile commerce apps for smartphones.

Retailers will also tap specific mobile marketing tools to attract holiday shoppers this year. At the top of the list of mobile tactics for more than half (55.3%) of retailers: mobile email optimization. Additionally, 44.7% will use smartphone paid search campaigns, two in five (21.3%) will use SMS campaigns, and 17.0% will use QR codes or other barcode scanning promotions.

Looking for heightened return on their investment, many companies will focus more on social media this year. More than half (54.8%) will increase their use of Facebook in November and December, and 59.5% will increase their use of Pinterest. Additionally, 55% of companies surveyed will increase their use of Instagram.

Other findings include:

  • About seven-in-10 (68.8%) online retailers say that at least 20% of their total 2013 online marketing budget goes toward holiday marketing, and two-thirds (66.6%) say that at least 20% of their total online promotions budget goes towards holiday promotions.  
  • More than one-quarter (27.3%) say they will offer free shipping earlier because of the economy and 31.8% plan to offer discounts earlier than they did last year, and another 31.8% will increase their use of daily deals for their customers.
  • 16.3% of retailers will offer their first holiday free shipping offer by the week of Oct. 28; more than one-third (34.9%) say they already offer year-round free shipping, compared to 23.1% last year.

“Retailers have been preparing for holiday for months, smartly investing in what’s important to online shoppers: value, free shipping, a user-friendly site, and flexible returns, among other features,” said Shop.org executive director Vicki Cantrell. “Retailers understand that holiday shoppers also look for merchandise selection and quality, and have boosted inventory to offer ample selection and exclusive products to help customers find just the right gift for everyone on their list.”

© 2014