With the school year well underway, holiday shopping is even closer than you think. Many retailers use the back-to-school shopping season as a test run, prepping their brick-and-mortar and online shopping experiences ahead of the holiday shopping rush. It's up to retailers to ensure their sites are not only mobile ready for the holiday shopping season, but that consumers have a consistent experience wherever and whenever they interact with the brand.
Despite lackluster predictions for this year's back-to-school shopping season, IBM's Digital Analytics Benchmark uncovered substantial gains in online sales from July through the third week in August, including double-digit percentage growth in mobile sales. Retailers rolled out back-to-school promotions ahead of Fourth of July and employed campaigns similar to their Cyber Monday and Black Friday promotions. Department stores benefited strongly from these tactics, with online sales up 33 percent over last year, powered by a 40 percent increase in mobile sales this July.
The back-to-school shopping numbers bode well for retailers, but how can this data help them prepare for the holiday shopping rush. Consider these four tips:
1. Adopt a "mobile first" approach. Mobile shopping is the rising star of online shopping; mobile sales were up 38 percent for the entire month of July over the same time in 2012. Mobile accounted for almost 22 percent of all online sales in July. Mobile technology investments should be a priority for retailers across all channels. Custom mobile push alerts, in-store mobile-only specials or simply an optimized online experience are good areas to start.
2. Make sure the experience is right for the device. Smartphone and tablet sales continued to grow throughout July and August, a trend that will likely continue through the holiday shopping season. In this new post-PC era, retailers need to make sure their site provides an optimal viewing experience, which includes easy reading and simple navigation across a wide range of devices. Improved online tablet experiences helped drive 4.47 percent of online traffic, an increase of 71.9 percent over the same period in 2012. Retailers can make simple tweaks to make sites more tablet friendly — e.g., adding extra space between menu items on drop-down menus. Small changes like this will ensure consumers’ navigation experience is simpler, more pleasant and customized to their shopping needs.