by Victoria Hoshal
Despite the recessionary outlook, online retail sales for the Holiday season exceeded 2010 levels by 15% and reach historic levels. Consumers spent $35.3 billion online, according to market research organization ComScore.
Email and online channel growth was highlighted by a YOY 9% increase to the top 500 retail sites during Peak Week alone (Thanksgiving Day, Black Friday and Cyber Monday). Other specific increases in email-generated revenue and digital marketing include the following, as cited by Experian Marketing Services:
- Average order values increased by 4.4%
- Email volume rose by 19%
- Unique open rates remained positive for most verticals
- 26% of subject lines featured and offer
- Dollars off offers were most popular, vs. the percent off strategy used in 2010
Driving the sales was a welcome increase in consumer confidence, which rose to 64.5% in December 2011. This was a 10 point increase from November of 2010 (Conference Board).
As we reviewed the results, strategies and tactics employed by online retailers in 2011, several trends emerged:
- The last minute shopper has more options than ever before, as E-gift cards and certificates sales boomed. Most major retailers offered e-gift cards and e-gift certificates that can be purchased online and delivered digitally via email or cell phone. See our list of resources at the close of this article for a list of retailers and their terms.
- Mobile gift cards can be stored on consumers’ cellphones or smartphones and redeemed in-store at checkout (see resources to click to complete article).
- Another morph is the “Virtual” gift card distributed via Facebook. For example, Amazon.com gift card notification can be other posted to a friend’s wall or sent to their Facebook message box, as designated by the giver.
- Gift cards as an overall category (all channels) accounted for 18% of all purchases, a 3.4% increase from 2010.
Retailers are becoming savvier each year in integrating online and bricks and mortar purchasing to maximize sales. A tactic that is becoming more prevalent is “Ship-to-Store.” This option allows customers to buy online and pick up their purchases at a local store, at their convenience. Benefits to customers are savings in shipping time and shipping charges.
The good news continued past Christmas, when consumers continued to spend: $7.1 billion in sales on December 26th. This represents a 25.% increase over 2010. Of special note is that 11.3% of these sales came from mobile devices, compared to 4.3% in 2010.