The battle for online sales on Christmas Day

According to a recent article from Techcrunch, IBM coremetrics data recorded a 16% increase in online sales completed on Christmas day 2011 compared to Christmas day 2010 in the US. According to econsultancy, online sales on Monday December 5th 2011 were up 30% compared to Monday December 6th 2010 with mobile sales accounting for nearly 20% of total retail traffic on Boxing Day 2011.

Christmas day has become one of the most important retail days for online retailers and is fast forming an integral part of anyone’s digital marketing strategy. So just why has Christmas day become an excuse for people to desert their turkey and trimmings and instead, pick up the laptop/mobile/iPad and browse your favourite online retailer? Below are a few factors that have had a big impact this year.

Mobile – The rise in customers transacting via their mobile and smartphone devices. According to Techcrunch sales completed by a mobile device accounted for 14.4% compared to just over 5% during Christmas 2010.

The rise in alternative digital channels to compliment a retailers marketing mix can be attributed to the iPad which this year accounted for 7% of all online Christmas-day sales. Expect the iPad to command an even higher percentage next year as retailers continue to optimise their e-commerce platforms for both mobile and iPads. Christmas 2011 has provided notable contributions from both mobile, smartphone and iPad devices but we can expect Christmas 2012 to provide a significant multi-channel offering through the rise in e-commerce and m-commerce working together.

January Sales come early – Experian Hitwise reported Christmas day 2011 recorded 1 in 8 visits online in the UK went to a retail website. The chart below displays the trend in online searches for the generic term, “sales” since 2004, with each year displaying a peak during the annual January Sale period.

Since 2004, aggressive digital marketing techniques have been implemented by retail brands looking to “own” the January sale space through tactical digital marketing techniques such as:

  • Affiliate activity around January sales
  • Pay-Per click marketing through targeting specific keywords associated with the sales
  • Optimising web content for better search engines visibility
  • Email activity – timely, targeted and segmented email activity

This is turn has seen a change in search behaviour where online users are now changing their search habits and now search for a brand name rather than generic “sale” search terms. Further evidence of this has resulted in only three of the top fifteen sale terms being generic, the rest were branded sale search terms. Below is a graph displaying the annual rise in 3 leading retail brands since 2004.

  • Blue – searches for “Next sale”
  • Orange – searches for “Debenhams sale”
  • Red – searches for “Argos sale”

Drunk Shopping – A recent article in the Telegraph referred to a growing trend in buying under the influence. leading online shopping comparison engine, Kelkoo ran a survey which reported that a fifth of those questioned said that they could not remember what they had bought when they woke up! So if your gran decided to buy you the latest X Factor winners single or a hideous cardigan for Christmas this year, there is a fair chance she may have had a few too many sherries and according to Kelkoo the key time for the rise in drunk shopping is form 11pm and into the early hours.

Econsultancy have released a handy ecommerce action plan with 35 tips to help support conversion rates which signifies the growing importance of Christmas day being a key milestone in the battle for online sales.

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