Online Retail Marketing – Holiday 2011 Review

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.

Resources quoted and utilized in this article include:
2011 U.S. Christmas Holiday Retail Data, Statistics, Results, Numbers Roundup www.retailindustryabout.com
Peak Week Sees Email and Online Channel Growth www.experian.com/blogs
2011 Holiday Season Email Snapshot www.experian.com/blogs
Retail Stores Selling Virtual Gift Cards Through Facebook Social Media www.retailindustry.about.com
Mobile Gifts Cards – Complete List of Largest US Retailers With Mobile Gift Cards www.retailindustry.about.com
Best Online Last Minute Gift Shopping Options – E-Gift Cards and Certificates www.retailindustry.about.com
Fast and Free Shipping Option From Online Retailers with Ship-to-Store Options www.retailindustry.about.com

Victoria Hoshal

Victoria is director of business development at d.trio.

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