TECHNOLOGY

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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TECHNOLOGY

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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TECHNOLOGY

Report: Aerosoles exec to lead Walmart’s online fashion team

BY Deena M. Amato-McCoy

Walmart has tapped a retail veteran to bolster its foothold in its growing online fashion category.

Denise Incandela was named Walmart’s senior VP, fashion, effective October 2, 2017. She will lead the fashion businesses for Walmart.com, Jet.com, and Shoes.com, according to Fashion Network. In her new role, she will report to Walmart’s chief revenue officer Scott Hilton, the report said.

Most recently, Incandela served as CEO for Aerosoles. Incandela took on the role in April, succeeding R. Shawn Neville, who assumed the role of executive chairman of the board. She was also appointed to the company’s board of directors.

Prior to Aerosoles, Incandela served as president for Ralph Lauren’s global digital division. She was also executive VP and chief marketing officer for Saks Fifth Avenue, and executive VP ad president of Saks Direct.

Last week, Aerosoles filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection as it looks to shutter nearly all of its U.S. stores. Aerosoles plans to maintain four flagships, in New York and New Jersey, as it shifts its focus to enhancing its e-commerce, wholesale and international businesses.

Incandela’s appointment is Walmart’s latest move to strengthen its online fashion offering. For example, the retailer acquired Shoebuy in December 2016, followed by outdoor apparel retailer Moosejaw in February and ModCloth in March. In June, the chain announced it would purchase Bonobos for $310 million in cash.

In a move to woo millennial shoppers, the retailer plans to sell the upscale Bonobos or ModCloth brands on Jet.com — a company that Walmart acquired in September 2016.

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