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Four eCommerce Trends for the 2014 Holiday Season

Holiday Retail TrendsLet’s start with the obvious – online retail market share will continue to grow in the 2014 holiday retail season. Forrester’s US Online Holiday Forecast predicts online sales to reach $89 billion in November and December of 2014, a 13% increase from 2013.But that’s just one facet of the changing holiday shopping landscape. Several trends are helping to define this evolution in consumer behavior.

Trend #1: Online Retail Surges; Black Friday, Brick-and-Mortar Sales Erode

The flip side of the digital retail explosion is that brick-and-mortar retail sales are slowing. A lackluster Black Friday in 2013 revealed in-store sales numbers eroded 2.7%, a significant decline from 2012.

As Black Friday has faded, Cyber Monday has emerged as the new holiday retail benchmark. IBM reported a 21% surge in web sales on Cyber Monday last year

Expect this trend to continue, driven by:

  • New Online Buyers: in November and December more than 3 million holiday shoppers will make an online purchase for the first time. According to Forrester, these new shoppers will account for one-sixth of 2014 online retail growth.
  • Wallet Expansion: The lion’s share of online retail growth will stem from “wallet expansion” (established users spending more). Veteran online shoppers will expand online purchasing habits in 2014, increasing average online purchases 10%.

Retailers now promise holiday pricing weeks in advance, and drawn-out holiday sales diminish the one-day purchasing frenzy that once defined Black Friday. Consumers are no longer motivated to rush to stores on a single day to find the best deals. Instead, they can shop for sales weeks in advance and avoid rushed in-store decisions.

Trend #2: Mobile, Mobile & Mobile

In 2014, US mobile buyers will exceed 100 million in number, and that trend will continue to rise. Consumers are more comfortable making purchases via mobile device. Moreover, more retailers recognize the importance of curating an optimized mobile end user experience to maximize eCommerce revenue.

Statistic: Number of mobile buyers in the United States from 2013 to 2018 (in millions) | Statista
*Source eMarketer via

Holiday shoppers also leverage mobile devices to assist in-store shopping. These mobile moments include using devices for product research or running a price comparison while in the check out line.

Shopping behavior varies by device. Business Insider reports that tablets are playing a larger role in mobile commerce. Tablets are used to initiate research and finalize purchases where as smartphones are typically employed in the middle of the buying process to further research products, check prices and deal hunt. Lastly, purchases on tablets tend to be larger, more expensive orders.

Trend #3: Data & Personalization: Price Steering & Price Discrimination

Big data and content personalization – buzzy marketing terms, of course. Behind that buzz, retailers are busy turning these trends into profits.

Do you ever suspect that you are not being offered the best deal online, and that someone else is offered a better bargain? Major online retailers now practice what’s known as price steering. Price steering uses data gleaned from your unique context to introduce tailored pricing and offers specifically to you.

A report from Northeastern University found this trend is still in its early stages, but major merchandisers and travel booking sites already practice price steering. This holiday season expect to see a disparity between price offerings based on the individual user device and location.

Although price steering may seem unfair, in many ways this trend can ultimately benefit the consumer. For example, a footwear retailer may offer more affluent users deals on high-end dress shoes over cheaper alternatives – exactly the product type the end-user is interested in.

Trend #4: Shopper Expectations are Sky-High; Winning Retailers Must Exceed Them

Your potential customers have sky-high expectations that must be met. An impressive 73% of in-store shoppers will conduct research online first. So, sales associates better be knowledgeable of online offerings.

It is all part of a multi-channel effort needed to satisfy today’s consumers. In addition to a flawless online and offline experiences, holiday shoppers are on the look out for perks like free shipping and in-store pick up. To come out on top, leading retailers must embrace trends and be proactive, not reactive, when meeting customers’ wants.

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