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2016 Holiday Season Projections for Small Businesses

October 20, 2016 by Ed Becker

2016 Online Shopping

Despite the concerns, many small business owners may have about the election year and the economy, it does look like it will be  a great holiday shopping season. In fact, the Kantar Forecast is touting that it will be the best online holiday in five years. And overall, even a small increase from last year’s fourth quarter sales. This is great news for our economy!

The largest increase is predicted to be in online sales, estimating a 16% increase from last year. This means that if your small business is not online, or you don’t have a store front, or a way for customers to order, you could be leaving a large chunk of sales on the table. If you do have an online presence and/or store front, this is the time of year to ensure that it is operating optimally and that both are very customer  friendly. Customers will not spend time on a site that is not easy to navigate or slow. Also ensure that your shopping site is responsive to mobile devices. Hopefully, your site is already up to speed on mobile diversity and you may just need to optimize it.

Predictions for 2016 Holiday Shopping Season

Single’s Day will be vastly promoted by US retailers

Single’s Day is a relatively new holiday in China that started in the early 90’s and has become popular with the young adult crowd. Single’s Day in China has become an epic online shopping day and it blew away Cyber Monday by $10 billion last year!  November 11th is Single’s Day, plan your marketing and sales strategies accordingly.

Multi-channel shopping experience

Retailers will heavily market their customers to come into their brick and mortar stores. Once in the store, the shopping experience has to be top notch, with ease of selection for colors and sizes, and inventory will have to be expansive. Shipping options are another huge draw; site to store shipping, next day or two-day shipping, reserve online and store pickup are all expected by consumers for convenience. Customers have a lot of shopping and shipping choices so consider these options to reduce your loss factor

Personalized messages

Personalization is going to be huge! Niche promotions, VIP content and events, browse & cart abandonment emails with coupons or discounts, and browser data geared to see what your target market is browsing. A more personalized shopping experience will override sales and promotions and even coupons.

Promotions gearing up as early as October

Quite honestly, if you are not already in the mindset that it is the holiday shopping season, you are behind. Inventory and stocking should have been ready for October 1st. Using promotions in October might also shift the sales from Black Friday and Cyber Monday to October sales. Start off the season with an early bird promotion and you might hit an early season record in sales.

Mobile sales are King

Mobile sales will rule this holiday season. Ensure that your mobile sites are easy to use and offer many options. You also want to ensure an easy transition between mobile and desktop, many customers will browse on their phone, and then order from their desktop. Responsive emails from mobile sites to mobile devices is a gap that needs to shrink. Less than half of retailers last year had responsive mobile sites, but not responsive emails. Responsive mobile sites know what type of device is being used and formats accordingly. Responsive emails are used to bring customers back to the site: if a customer left items in their cart without making a purchase, an email goes out to remind them and perhaps offers a coupon.

To test the mobile responsiveness of your web page, run a test using Google’s Mobile-Friendly Test.

Brands will evolve into new things

Retailers will try and continue to offer new things. B2C content marketing is gaining much ground in offering unique content that is valuable to their market. Virtual reality (VR) could move beyond gaming into social and business, as well as ecommerce.

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