Holiday shopping season is here! In fact, holiday shopping launched in … July?! According to our research at Bazaarvoice, almost 20 percent of consumers planned to start shopping midsummer during Amazon Prime Day and competing “Black Friday in July” sales. Luckily, 80 percent of us are stragglers and are still doing our shopping in the fall or winter, some right up until the holidays. Are you prepared for the holiday shopping surge? If not, or even if you’re already thinking about next year, here are a few pieces of advice from our research to help you win.
Mid-October to Early November is Peak Research Time for Holiday Shoppers
Before holiday shoppers start buying gifts, they take their research seriously. Last year, starting around Columbus Day (Oct. 8 last year, Oct. 14 this year), we saw a sustained spike in shoppers reading their fellow consumers’ reviews across our network of more than 6,200 brand and retailer websites. Shoppers were engaging with customer ratings, reviews, and visual content on product pages 8 percent more than typical. The number of customer questions submitted to our clients also begins to increase in mid-October.
Shoppers are researching and evaluating different products so that they’re ready for the major sale days coming later in November. In preparation of consumers’ perusing your website, make sure to have your product pages stocked with fresh, authentic user-generated content. Also, respond to any existing customer reviews and questions, and anticipate an influx as the holiday season continues. Last year, questions submitted on our network increased by 26 percent overall during November and December, reaching a 98 percent increase on Black Friday and a 110 percent increase on Cyber Monday.
Use Your Brick-and-Mortar Space to Your Advantage
Even though shopping is becoming increasingly digital, the in-store experience is especially important during the holidays. Shoppers are willing to brave crowds to get into the holiday spirit. Of those who shop in-store during the holidays, 42 percent said they do it to enjoy the festive ambiance. Over a third (37 percent) of shoppers indicated that they plan to do the majority of their holiday shopping in-store this year, and 72 percent will head to the mall to complete at least some of their shopping. Seasonal pop-ups, unique partnerships, and holiday-inspired events can all generate holiday purchases and provide opportunities to engage with your customers.
Utilize Nontraditional Shopping Events
While Black Friday and Cyber Monday are the biggest shopping days of the season, there are opportunities to capture customers in the lead up to (and even after) Christmas Day. Green Monday, which occurs on the second Monday in December and is typically 10 shipping business days to Christmas, is relatively unknown but should not be overlooked. With an 83 percent increase in order volume across our network last year, it was the biggest order day in the U.S., outside of Black Friday and Cyber Monday.
Shoppers are still perusing items on Christmas Day. Last year, it was the biggest day for mobile traffic on our network, as consumers looked to spend gift cards they received, return gifts they didn’t like, and buy themselves what they really wanted. Similarly, Dec. 26 saw an almost 40 percent increase in page views. Be sure your holiday strategy takes into account midsummer through the New Year.
Joe Rohrlich is chief revenue officer of Bazaarvoice, the provider of product reviews and user-generated content (UGC) solutions.
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