While we anxiously await the final holiday revenue numbers to be calculated, there are a few things we already know regarding the way customers shopped. And these holiday shopping trends tell us a lot about the ways customers will continue to interact and buy from retailers in 2016.

The Global Mobile Explosion

Unlike 2014, many stores remained closed on Thanksgiving in 2015 – and some remained closed to the early Black Friday shoppers or, in REI’s case, remained closed all day. This contributed to a 10% decrease in store revenue on Thanksgiving and Black Friday. However, online sales for those two days saw double digit increases over last year. Consumers spent $1.73 billion online on Thanksgiving, 25% higher than 2014.

Mobile was the clear winner this holiday season. From Adobe Digital Index:

  • Thanksgiving Day: mobile accounted for 37% of online revenue – 22% from smartphones and 15% from tablets
  • Black Friday: mobile sales increased 14.3% over 2014 bringing in 33.2% of all sales
  • Cyber Monday: 26% of sales came from mobile devices, up 16% from 2014

Nearly 30% of all sales are now coming from mobile devices and 78% of smartphone users access a retail site through a mobile app. There is no doubt that mobile shopping is gaining momentum and it’s expected to increase even more in 2016.

As you finalize your marketing strategy mobile must be a focus.

Here are some mobile tactics to consider:

  • Acquire mobile numbers along with email addresses – email should remain your daily communication method with your customers while SMS messaging should be used more sparingly for truly exclusive offers, transactional messages or re-engagement.
  • Add beacons to enhance the in-store shopping experience – push messaging will aid customers in product discovery as they are shopping while marrying the best of in-store and online shopping
  • Create a mobile shopping app that adds value to the in-store shopping experience – including features such as the ability to scan a product bar code to see if particular sizes are in stock, read reviews, save items to their favorites or find related merchandise will assist shoppers and help them checkout faster. Additionally, making coupon codes or loyalty points available in-app will help customers make purchase decisions.
  • Don’t overlook the basics – responsive sites and emails are a must in 2016. Over half of all emails are now opened on mobile devices so you must optimize your messages to ensure shoppers have a good experience.

Cross-Channel Shoppers

There is no denying that many retailers are bridging the gap between channels and are breaking down the data silos. In 2014, webrooming – customers who research products online but buy in-store – and showrooming – customers who research products in-store but buy online – were frowned upon. But it was embraced in 2015.

Showroomers are typically driven by price – they find items they love in a store and then search online for the lowest price. Webroomers, on the other hand, are driven by quality and/or shipping fees. Retailers won more customers this year by understanding that both webroomers and showroomers are all shoppers who ended up in their stores and all it took to convert them was the right offer and engagement.

Pier 1, for example, had a kiosk set up in-store that allows customers to browse and purchase items from its site and have it shipped for free to the store. Many other retailers offered online or mobile wish lists that customers could add items to and then easily find in-store. And many more upped their Buy Online Pick Up in Store offering by including curbside pickup. Retailers didn’t worry as much about what channel the sale came from and instead focused on converting each and every customer in the channel that worked best for him or her.

This year, expect channels to blur even more. Customers expect a seamless experience as they move from your site to your store to their mobile device. In order to provide it you must eliminate your data silos so customer data from every channel can be used to inform campaigns no matter where customers are shopping or interacting with your brand.

Key Shopping Periods

Many holiday shoppers started buying earlier this year thanks to “Christmas Creep” - promotions began soon after Halloween. While that left some people complaining about decorations being put up too early, there is no denying the benefits to both retailers and shoppers. Shoppers were offered great deals and had the ability to spread out spending so it was easier to budget. They could also avoid the last-minute holiday rush. Retailers, on the other hand, had the opportunity to get a jump start on holiday revenue while also, possibly, enticing some shoppers to spend more as they took advantage of early holiday promotions while continuing to shop throughout the season. Retailers had the added bonus of early holiday data – they knew what shoppers were looking for and could better target their messages. But what does that mean for you in 2016?

Plan Your Year-Over-Year Calendar Accordingly

Be sure your promotional calendar reflects your early promotions so year-over-year projections are aligned. Also, if you’re one of the many retailers who moved from a weekly email deployment to a daily send this year, your 2016 calendar should reflect that. As you know, sending more email generates more revenue so it is important to understand exactly what led to 2015’s sales each day so you can meet your 2016 goals.

That doesn’t mean that you have to send the same number of messages or start your promotions at the same time as last year. In fact, there are some things you can do that will generate more revenue while saving you time and resources. For example, personalizing messages with products that shoppers have viewed but didn’t purchase, or engaging customers with personal recommendations based on past purchases will greatly increase revenue while reducing design time needed to create messages. Take this personalization a step further by using the same recommendations in retargeting display ads to really engage shoppers when they are online.

You can also try segmenting your list in new ways. Try sending a promotion to shoppers who have visited your site within the last 45 days and browsed a specific brand but didn’t purchase. Or send an offer to shoppers who have purchased over 90 days ago and have opened an email within that last 20 days but haven’t placed a second order. The more specific you can be, the better.

Tactics like these will help you reach your daily revenue goals without overwhelming your customers with messages that aren’t relevant to them.

Have questions about these strategies? Let us know.