How to Use the 2017 Holiday Season Numbers to Better Strategize in 2018

2017 holiday review

The 2017 holiday sales season proved to be a highly profitable one, with online sales growing 18.1 percent when compared to the same time the previous year, according to the Mastercard Spending Pulse. While news of a prosperous holiday season is more than enough motivation to crank your online business into high gear in 2018, there’s a lot more you can take away from this holiday season if you dig deeper into the numbers.

So, let’s take a look at some of the more surprising statistics from the 2017 holiday shopping season and see how you can use these to your advantage as you strategize for your business in the coming year.

Website Performance

Shoppimon painted a bleak picture for e-retailers whose sites did not perform up to snuff this holiday season, stating that online retailers lost $1.88 billion over the Black Friday weekend alone (Thanksgiving through Cyber Monday) due to technical issues. Granted, that is a very busy weekend for retail, but think about what that means every time your website goes down the rest of the year.

With your website serving as the hub of your business, you cannot afford to let lackluster website speed or security issues compromise the user experience and, consequently, your sales. Fortify your website with the right security measures and enhance performance with greater bandwidth and faster speeds now to avoid these complications in the future.

Digital Mobile Sales

Last month Adobe Digital Insights reported that 32.4 percent of holiday season e-commerce sales (through December 5) came solely from mobile devices, totaling $21.2 billion in spending.

If you have not made mobile a major part of your web design strategy yet, then there’s no time like the present to get started, and especially with Google’s mobile-first indexing initiative coming soon. Which brings us to…

Mobile Apps

U.S. consumers turned to mobile apps to improve their shopping experience during the holiday season, with 2.7 million shopping app downloads on that Black Friday alone, according to App Annie. And in terms of usage? Android users spent over 47 million hours within those apps from November 19 through 25. That’s a 45 percent increase from the average time people spend in apps in the month leading up to Black Friday.

But mobile apps aren’t just helpful for consumers who want to find the best deals on major sales days. They’re great for streamlining the payment process—both in store and online—and well as in helping you send timely push notifications to them. Here are some more reasons why your customers want you to have a mobile app.

Conversational Commerce

Roughly 40 percent of U.S. shoppers surveyed by SAP said they were thinking about using voice-activated devices like Google Home and Amazon Echo to help with holiday shopping in 2017. It’s also worth noting that Amazon recently announced that its Echo Dot was the top-selling Amazon device during the 2017 holiday season “and the best-selling product from any manufacturer in any category across all of Amazon, with millions sold.”

As consumers use voice search and digital assistants more and more to improve their shopping experiences, it’s important that your site be equipped to respond to these types of interactions. If you want to jump on this conversational commerce bandwagon, here is what you need to know about voice-activated shopping.

Promotional Timelines

Only 12 percent of consumers had finished their holiday shopping as of December 12, according to a National Retail Federation survey that also found shoppers had only completed an average of 61 percent of their shopping by that date.

Reasons given for the holiday shopping delay included:

  • Still deciding what to buy
  • Too busy to shop
  • Assessing personal finances

This information is incredibly helpful for online retailers for a number of reasons.

First, it gives you some insight into how many people are still shopping even after a major holiday has passed (and we are not just talking about the November/December holidays either). Rather than focus all your promotions on the timeframe leading up to a holiday sale, consider the last-minute shoppers when planning your promotional schedules throughout the year.

Also, this survey tells us why exactly people are motivated to hold out just a little bit longer with their shopping. You can use this knowledge to create an experience that better caters to these shoppers with time-sensitive promotions, a streamlined digital shopping experience, and unbeatable sales options.

Shipping

With an ever-growing demand for package delivery, the holiday season was a particularly busy time for shipping carriers, with USPS projecting that it would deliver more than 850 million packages between Thanksgiving and New Year’s Day, an increase of more than 10 percent over the same period last year. UPS experienced similar surges in shipping requests and found that they were not as prepared as they hoped to be, resulting in delivery delays and extended work weeks for some employees.

Although the holiday season is likely the only time of year you will encounter these issues with missed shipping deadlines, this is a good lesson about working closely with those responsible for delivering your goods in general. This means watching out for significant delays in deliveries, comparing shipping rates to find the best vendor for each shipment, and providing online customers with clear expectations for when they can expect to receive their purchases.

Summary

2017 may be in the past, but that does not mean there aren’t valuable lessons to be learned from the holiday season—especially one that ended up being so profitable for e-commerce companies. Before you get too far into the new year, take some time to review these statistics as well as your own analytics so you can better prepare your online sales and marketing strategy in 2018.

About Endicia

Endicia is a leading provider of internet-based postage services that make it easier and more affordable to ship parcels through the U.S. Postal Service®. We know that shipping can be complex and our goal is to simplify your shipping operations so you can focus on doing what you do best. Visit us at endicia.com to learn more.

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