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What marketers should know for the 2016 holiday shopping season

What marketers should know for the 2016 holiday shopping season Justin Fogarty

With access to 21 percent of all U.S. e-commerce, what could one learn and consequently share with the digital marketing community about the quirky behavior powering holiday shopping?

Our data analysts and content team spent the month of December exploring the data to see how holiday shopping is evolving, something we so geekily named "Datacember." The data revealed a lot about shopping in this era of smartphones and Amazon; and the insights gleaned led to five top findings that will carry a lot of weight as we look forward to the 2016 holiday shopping season.

Procrastination accounts for 9.8 percent of holiday e-commerce

And mobile is the procrastinator's tool of choice -- on the couch or in the mall.

Recommendation for 2016: At the very least, the use cases and offers featured in the hero banner of the mobile site should change as Christmas approaches. For example, a mobile visitor on Dec. 22 is probably looking for directions to the store or to see if a product is in stock before they hop in the car. Help them, and you become the procrastinator's shopping savior.

Veteran's Day is the new Black Friday

The shopping season has stretched to early November, with Veteran's Day rivaling the number of conversions seen on Thanksgiving.

Recommendation for 2016: If you weren't already, it's time to consider moving your holiday promotions up to early/mid-November. With that said ...

The door-buster is dying

The longer season appears to be diminishing the sense of urgency among shoppers. They seem less wooed by sale prices, as notices of another sale seems to hit their inbox every day. And worst case, they've always got Amazon to save them in a pinch. We also surveyed 3,000 U.S. consumers, and those results backed up internal data. While this presents a particular challenge for retailers, all is not lost.

Recommendation for 2016: Think of holidays in terms of browse and buy days. For the browse days, amp up your retargeting ads and emails. Lure people back for the buy days with offers that truly are differentiated and compelling. You can't fight consumer behavior so optimize for the way they shop today.

Monday is the new Sunday

Holiday shopping is truly different, including the days of the week when we buy (vs. those when we just browse). Sunday and Monday essentially flip places, with Monday assuming the top spot for e-commerce conversions during the holidays. Speaking of Mondays, we still need a name for the Monday before Thanksgiving, which sees a big shopping bump.

Recommendation for 2016: Time your online efforts to coincide with the shopping use cases that are expressed clearly in the data. Weekends are in-store days, while Mondays (and increasingly Wednesdays!) are for online conversions. Don't fight it -- go with it in your promotions.

Desktop is still king (of conversions)

Mobile engagement, conversions, and influence on shopping is large and growing. But, desktop still made up 68.2 percent of holiday e-commerce conversions.

Recommendation for 2016: Become truly omni-channel. Sure, those conversion numbers favor desktop, but our data often indicates that those desktop buyers are likely also your mobile browsers. Focus on connecting the dots between devices and customer records. With that, you can leverage everything you know about each shopper to ease their path-to-purchase -- whether on desktop, mobile, or in your brick-and-mortar stores.

As the saying goes, the only thing constant is change. And that certainly appears to be the case in our world, as people and technology evolve.

Justin Fogarty runs content creation at BloomReach, including the production of customer stories, videos and data research. Part poet, part quant, Justin believes that the best content is grounded in data but oriented around people. Justin has a...

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