For retailers, the holiday season can be the last chance to ramp up sales and bring the fiscal year to a strong close.
Last year, total holiday sales increased just 3.0% year-over-year, reaching $579.8 billion, according to the National Retail Federation (NRF). As a result, many retailers still are “cautiously optimistic” regarding their year-over-year holiday revenue for 2013, according to new research conducted by Baynote and the e-tailing group.
For the 2013 Holiday Predictions research, the e-tailing group conducted a survey of 77 U.S. retailers with annual revenue ranging from less than $20 million to more than $5 billion. Approximately 38% of retailers predicted an 11% to 20% year-over-year increase in sales for the 2013 holidays, while 22% projected sales would improve by 21% or more.
Somewhat wary holiday sales expectations can be attributed to “mixed signals from both consumer behavior and retail forecasts,” stated Lauren Freedman, President of the e-tailing group. “Retailers want to be cautious given the economic uncertainties that still exist.”
However, respondents agreed that mobile and e-Commerce both will be central to their holiday sales and marketing strategies. One in three retailers predicted that mobile will drive more than 10% of total holiday revenue. In addition, 38% of respondents noted that mobile will renew interest in brick-and-mortar stores, which also will attribute to increased revenue.
Freedman told Retail TouchPoints that in-store experiences will evolve to include mobile strategies such as mobile checkout, inventory lookup and in-store usage of tablets to aid in selling. To ensure mobile strategies are successful, more retailers also will be embracing localization, according to Freedman. For example, rather than blanketing deals across all stores, retailers will be equipped to serve up time-sensitive sales and promotions “selectively.”
These offers and deals “should be promoted consistently and creatively across all channels,” Freedman said. “In fact, creativity should be top–of-mind for retailers as they strive to inspire consumers to shop when the season moves into full tilt.”
But overall, retailers noted that e-Commerce will continue to steal market share during the holidays. As a result, 81% of retailers are upgrading their e-Commerce platforms. Organizations also are making significant investments in SEO and SEM technology (46%) and enhanced site search capabilities (77%) to drive traffic and engagement online.
“The convenience of e-Commerce will continue to shift customers in digital directions,” Freedman said. “The holidays will likely be promotion-centric and the web’s ability to facilitate comparison shopping and deliver quickly will make the web hard to beat this year.”