Tuesday, November 20, 2007

'Tis the Season--for SHOPPING!

"The Internet’s role in the holiday shopping season continues to grow, promising to provide a ray of light in what could be an otherwise dim holiday shopping season."

"According to research being released today by Shop.org, which is part of the NRF, and BIGresearch, the Internet will influence 30.2% of holiday sales this year, up from 28.9% last year."

This in from today's DM News. Hardly big news that more and more people are enjoying the comforts of shopping from home, or the office. Forget about parking the car in the mall, fighting the hordes to grab that perfect gift. It's so much easier to simply point and click, and, um, give up that credit card number.

What I found intriguing about this article was the fact that online merchandisers are learning a few things from their retail brethren. And, in some cases they're taking it a bit farther by using social media tactics to boost marketing effectiveness.
  • "72% of online retailers said they are planning a special promotion for Cyber Monday." Cyber Monday is the Monday after Thanksgiving--traditionally a huge day for online shopping, as people return to the offices with Christmas, and Christmas shopping on their minds. Cyber Monday is quickly becoming as important as Black Friday (the day after Thanksgiving, and the time in the fiscal year when most brick and mortar retailers finally turn a profit).
  • "CyberMonday.com is Shop.org’s shopping Web site intended to help consumers find the best holiday deals." This site collects online deals and sales info and even distributes this info to interested consumers via RSS feed and e-mail. Talk about offering a great service to the interested shopper. And, a lovely use of interactive marketing.
In some cases, (gasp) online marketers are actually integrating their marketing with retail to really boost the effect on consumers.
  • "More retailers are viewing their online sales initiatives as part of an overall marketing strategy."
  • "According to a recent survey from BDO, chief marketing officers of leading US retailers said they are dedicating 14.8% of their total marketing budget to driving Internet sales during the holidays."
So, what, specifically, should we (as consumers) be looking for in the way of promotional activities? What deals will be out there?
  • According to Shop.org, e-mail campaigns will be the most popular promotion on Cyber Monday, with 32% of retailers planning to use this strategy. E-mail is followed by specific deals, which 29.9% of retailers plan to offer, one-day sales, which 28.9% plan to offer and free shipping, which 24.7% plan to offer.
  • BDO’s research indicates that 61% of retailers will be providing reduced prices online during the holidays, 58% free shipping and 53% exclusive items. The average minimum purchase to qualify for free shipping was $43."
  • “More and more retailers are adopting ‘Midnight Madness’ one-day sale approaches” this year, according to Krugman (Scott Krugman is VP of public relations at the National Retail Federation). The expectation is that since sales weren’t that strong in September and October, there will be some pent-up consumer demand and retailers are hoping to capture this."
In just a few years, we've seen web sales grow and grow. And, the strategies behind interactive marketing have evolved, too. It's a fun time to be a direct marketer. And, I have to admit it, it's a fun time to be a consumer!

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