Online Retail Marketing – Holiday 2011 Review

By February 8, 2012General

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, 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
Peak Week Sees Email and Online Channel Growth
2011 Holiday Season Email Snapshot
Retail Stores Selling Virtual Gift Cards Through Facebook Social Media
Mobile Gifts Cards – Complete List of Largest US Retailers With Mobile Gift Cards
Best Online Last Minute Gift Shopping Options – E-Gift Cards and Certificates
Fast and Free Shipping Option From Online Retailers with Ship-to-Store Options

Author Victoria Hoshal

More posts by Victoria Hoshal

Leave a Reply