TECHNOLOGY

Online holiday spending to increase by double digits over last year

BY Deena M. Amato-McCoy

Black Friday and Cyber-week promotions will be paramount in driving this online holiday spending even higher than last year.

Digital holiday sales are expected to increase by 14% from last season, growing from $133 billion in 2017 to $151 billion in 2018. Many of these sales will happen early in the season, and will be largely driven by promotions, according to early findings from Forrester Research’s holiday retail forecast.

According to data, more than one-third of the year’s e-commerce sales will stem from the holiday season. In addition, online holiday retail sales will account for over 32% of total United States e-commerce sales in 2018.

During this time, U.S. online shoppers are expected to spend an average of $785 each, which is 11% more than the 2017 holiday season.

“In the U.S., e-commerce during the months of November and December will account for 20% of overall retail sales. This is a higher concentration of online penetration compared to the other 10 months of the year,” Forrester’s principal analyst Sucharita Kodali said during Forrester’s podcast, Retailers, Don’t Give Customers “Socks” This Holiday Season.”

To grab this wallet share early, many companies will offer more Cyber-week and Black Friday promotions.

“Interestingly, only one-third of holiday sales will happen in December, while two-thirds will happen in November,” she added. “That is an amazing statistic as these sales will push much activity, and have conditioned shoppers to behave very differently. A lot of that shopping is shopping for self. These might be big purchases you have had an eye on, and you want to make sure you’re getting the most value for your money.”

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TECHNOLOGY

Amazon shifting focus to exclusive brands

BY Marianne Wilson

Amazon is starting to compete with itself in a few categories.

Private brand expansion has been a major priority for Amazon, with several new labels being introduced every year. But the online giant is now slowing its private brand expansion to invest in a number of Amazon-exclusive brands, according to a new report by e-commerce analytics company One Click Retail.

Unlike Amazon-owned private labels, these brands are owned by manufacturers, such as Perrigo and First Quality, and still benefiting from the high visibility that comes from being an ‘Amazon Brand.’ Basic Care, for example, launched in August 2017, is owned and manufactured by Perrigo. Basic Care over-the-counter medicine is the Amazon-exclusive alternative to Perrigo’s own Good Sense brand, and as of the third quarter, has now surpassed the latter in market share on Amazon.com. Basic Care controls over 15% of OTC sales, while Good Sense has dropped from over 20% in January to as low as 9% during the third quarter.

“This illustrates the competitive advantage of being an Amazon-exclusive brand, giving manufacturers a significant boost to their visibility compared to other brands (even their own) by being labeled as an Amazon Brand,” said Peter Andrews, director of insights at One Click Retail.

The diaper category has served as a laboratory for Amazon’s private label strategy. After some initial failures in this category, Amazon found success with the Mama Bear brand, which grew in sales by over 40% from the second quarter of 2018 to the third, reaching average weekly sales of approximately $200K. While Amazon has continued to show their commitment to Mama Bear diapers, supporting them with a series of promotions in mid-July and early August, Amazon has also partnered with First Quality to introduce a new line of Amazon-exclusive diapers. Earth+Eden, owned and manufactured by First Quality, is a brand new line of baby diapers available exclusively on Amazon.

First Quality also produces Cuties, a premium line of baby diapers which has struggled to compete on Amazon against larger brands like The Honest Company. Earth+Eden shares many design and marketing similarities with Cuties, but benefits from the competitive advantage of being an Amazon-exclusive.

To read the One Click Retail report on the evolution of Amazon’s house brand strategy, visit The Amazon Effect: Private Labels and Exclusive Brands.

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TECHNOLOGY

The easiest way to lose online holiday shoppers is…

BY Deena M. Amato-McCoy

Out-of-stock merchandise is a sure-fire way to drive customers to competitor websites this holiday season.

Nearly 40% of online shoppers experienced an item being out-of-stock while shopping on a retailer’s site during the 2017 holiday season, an issue that influenced 80% of shoppers to visit another retailer’s website to purchase the product, according to the “Mirakl Holiday Season Shopping Survey,” from Mirakl.

According to data, 96% of respondents did at least a quarter of their holiday shopping online last year. This year, over one-third of shoppers plan to do more gift buying online. These shoppers are in search of the best prices and selection. They also want retailers to be a one-stop-shop, offer complementary lines, related products and a wide selection per category.

However, last year, some customers were disappointed. Nearly 40% of shoppers, including 45% of U.K. shoppers and 42% of U.S. shoppers, encountered a retailer’s website lacking a product or range of products that they expected.

Meanwhile, 55% of consumers (70% of Gen Z customers alone) have stopped shopping with a retailer because a competitor offered a better selection of products. And 86% said last year they checked prices on Amazon before completing the purchase elsewhere.

The fickle holiday shopper reveals how important product range and availability is, as well as the need to provide contingencies for popular products. Retailers can utilize an online marketplace strategy to close the assortment and availability gaps, without overhead, and can also drive more store traffic by letting customers ‘click and collect’ marketplace orders.

Additionally, marketplaces make it easy to test new products and brands at no risk. Marketplace sales also offer a higher profit margin than drop ship or owned-product sales, the study revealed.

“This research offers valuable insights into the benefits of a superior product selection and inventory as retailers approach their most important season,” said Adrien Nussenbaum, U.S. CEO and co-founder, Mirakl.

“The results make it clear that retailers must give their customers the choices they want in order to thrive amongst online competitors during the holidays,” Nussenbaum added. “We believe that the best way to do this is by leveraging a network of sellers to quickly and easily expand your product and services assortment – avoiding inventory and overhead costs.”

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