ECOMMERCE

The busiest online shopping day in history will be…

BY Marianne Wilson

Black Friday is still No. 1 when it comes to setting sales records.

Black Friday, which falls on Nov. 24 this year, will be the busiest digital shopping day in U.S. history, exceeding Cyber Monday (Nov. 27) for the second year in a row, according to a report by Salesforce.

Mobile traffic to retail sites will grow to 60% of total across the globe this shopping season (compared to 34% for desktop and 5% for tablets). Orders placed on phones will approach 40% on big shopping days such as Black Friday, according to Salesforce's 2017 Holiday Season Predictions report.

Consumers will only have 50% of their holiday shopping completed by Sunday, Dec. 3 and 80% completed by Friday, Dec. 15. Cyber Week (Thanksgiving to Cyber Monday) will see both the deepest discounts (average of 28% off list price) and highest rate of free shipping (86% of all orders will have it). Beyond Cyber Week, Monday, Dec. 11 will have the deepest discounts and highest availability of free shipping.

In other insights from the Salesforce report:

o The most popular online shopping time for website visits and orders is from 8 p.m. to 10 p.m.

o Seven to 10% of all iPhone orders will go through Apple Pay.

o The most used channels for research before buying online include website (74%), email (43 %), social media (38%) and a retailer's mobile apps (36%).

o Voice-enabled digital assistants such as Amazon Alexa, Apple Siri and Google Assistant will be used by 40% of Millennials (ages 18-36) to research merchandise before buying online.

o Fifty-eight percent of consumers think that store associates need the ability to look up product details on-demand on a mobile device in order to help deliver an excellent customer experience.

o Over a third of Millennials (35%) say the ability to search merchandise in a physical store or online catalog using an image and receiving product recommendations based on the attributes of that image would be appealing.

o Millennials are also 2.5 times more likely (28% vs. 11%) than Baby Boomers (ages 53-71) to say personalized digital offers from retailers based on their purchasing history would appeal to them.

o Despite a desire for more personalized experiences, 63% of consumers feel like retailers don't truly know who they are.

o In addition, 61% believe that in order to help deliver an excellent customer experience, store associates need visibility into all available inventory at other stores or warehouses if an item is out of stock.

"Just like watching television, holiday shopping has moved from an appointment based activity to an on-demand activity," said Rob Garf, VP industry insights, Salesforce Commerce Cloud. "Salesforce expects to see continued growth not only in mobile orders and website visits, but also in newer technologies such as mobile payments and artificial intelligence. It's not too late for retailers to make adjustments today in order to meet consumer expectations and better compete this holiday season."

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MARKETING/SOCIAL MEDIA

Report: Consumers to get early jump on holiday shopping

BY Marianne Wilson

More and more Americans plan to get an early start on their holiday shopping. And they also plan on spending more.

Nearly half (45%) of Americans plan to start holiday shopping before November, with one in four starting before October, according to RetailMeNot's 2017 Holiday Retail Trends and Guide. Retailers are capitalizing on this earlier start: Nearly 80% indicated they will begin holiday marketing efforts earlier this year.

Consumers plan to spend an average of $743 during the Black Friday (Nov. 24) to Cyber Monday (Nov. 27) shopping weekend, up 47% from last year’s average of $505, according to the report. Echoing the trend observed in 2016, RetailMeNot expects that Black Friday deals will start well in advance of Thanksgiving Day, and last beyond Cyber Monday. In fact, the holiday shopping weekend of Thanksgiving to Cyber Monday will likely now expand into two full weeks of deals.

According to RetailMeNot, Cyber Monday is becoming just as important as Black Friday as it gains popularity amongst consumers. Fifty-six percent of consumers said they plan to shop Cyber Monday deals in 2017 versus just 39% in 2016.

“With the expanded shopping season this year, Black Friday and Cyber Monday are no longer single-focus days. It’s now a two-week-long promotional opportunity,” said Marissa Tarleton, CMO, RetailMeNot. “Not only are these two days as important as ever, retailers must consider how to win the two-week period.”

This year’s holiday season gives shoppers an extra Saturday before Christmas Eve for last-minute shopping. Four in 10 retailers are setting aside more than a quarter of their overall holiday marketing budget for last-minute promotional activity. RetailMeNot recommends retailers plan to trigger special “pulses” of savings for maximum ROI. On average, RetailMeNot data shows the ideal promotional length to be about three days — and this data shows a 3x conversion lift when retailers combine short pulse promotions with longer, evergreen promotional content.

Download the full study at rmn.com/holidayinsights2017.

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DESIGN/CONSTRUCTION

Innovative retail concept in store expansion mode

BY Marianne Wilson

A tech-savvy retailer with an unusual business model is expanding its brick-and-mortar footprint nationally.

b8ta announced plans to open four new stores, designed by Gensler, with locations in San Francisco, San Jose, Calif. (Santana Row), Houston (Galleria), and New York City. The expansion, which brings the company's total store count to nine, kicks off with the opening of a store in San Francisco’s Hayes Valley neighborhood on Sept. 29.

b8ta stores are designed to give shoppers a hands-on demonstration of cutting-edge tech products and gadgets — most of them from start-up companies that lack the resources and/or know-how for entering traditional retail channels. Indeed, most of the featured companies (or “makers” in b8ta speak) sell products directly on their websites or through crowd funding campaigns. Each store feature a mix of more than 100 products, and customers are encouraged to see, touch and try out the products.

b8ta is different than the traditional retail model in that the company makes its money essentially by leasing space in its stores to the product makers/manufacturers. Proceeds of all in-store sales go directly to the makers themselves.

Data powers the entire enterprise and b8ta’s inventory changes month-to-month based on performance, offering frequent opportunities for new makers — and novel experiences for customers. The product makers have access to detailed data and the ability to test and control the experience of their product in store.

b8ta opened its first store in late 2015, in California. The company was founded by Vibhu Norby (CEO), William Mintun (COO), and Phillip Raub (CMO).

“In December 2015, we opened our first b8ta store in Palo Alto to prove that retail wasn’t dying because consumers had lost interest in shopping, but because the makers behind the best products had lost interest in working with retailers," said Norby. "After opening our first five stores, filling them with hundreds of unique products, and engaging 25,000+ customers a month, we’ve proven our thesis. In the next few months, we’re extending our reach coast to coast, allowing our amazing makers to meet their customers across the country.”

b8ta has also launched its e-commerce platform, giving customers the opportunity to purchase products online from any of the store locations. The company’s growth has been fueled by a $19.5 million funding round led by Khosla Ventures, Fifth Wall Ventures, and TriplePoint Capital with participation from Comcast Ventures and national mall operator Macerich.

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