News Feature | August 6, 2013

Retailers Exhibit Optimism For 2013 Holiday Season

Source: Retail Solutions Online
Sam Lewis

By Sam Lewis, associate editor
Follow Me On Twitter @SamIAmOnFood

Holiday Gifts

Mobile retail and timely promotions will drive sales upward

On Friday, August 2, the results of a survey conducted by Baynote, a service provider for omni-channel retailers, were released. The survey quizzed 77 U.S. retailers ranging in size (by annual income) of less than $20 million to in excess of $5 billion and showed retailers are optimistic for growth of revenue to exceed 10 percent in the 2013 holiday season. These results align closely with industry forecasts. Additionally, retailers are expecting mobile retailing to play a big role this holiday season.

“The survey provides a benchmark for retailers currently finalizing promotional strategies for the upcoming holiday season, and we hope that the findings are useful to retailers of all sizes,” said Dan Darnell, VP of marketing and products at Baynote. A little more than 1/3 of those surveyed project increases in sales between 11 and 20 percent compared to the 2012 holidays. As usual, the holiday season is expected to start slow and gain momentum through December. The majority of respondents predict that online retailers will continue to have a huge market share against brick-and-mortar stores as the season progresses, but the influence of mobile retail will fuel a new interest in stores with an omni-channel presence.

Just about half of the survey’s respondents expect mobile transactions to account for a significant part of holiday revenue. Of them, 38 percent see a renewed interest of in-store shopping inspired by mobile, leading to increased revenue. Social media’s impact on retail during the 2012 holiday season is expected to be in sharp contrast with mobile, with 84 percent of retailers seeing it have little or no impact on sales.

The customer experience seems to be the main focus of retailers this upcoming holiday season. “Data shows retailers recognize that next-generation e-commerce platforms with capabilities to drive a truly personalized and relevant experience will empower merchandisers to achieve increased engagement, revenue, and ultimately value from improved relationships with customers,” said Darnell. Almost half of surveyed retailers will make significant investments in e-commerce technology, search engine optimization (SEO), and search engine marketing (SEM). Nearly all of the retailers surveyed will allocate resources to improving current e-commerce platforms and advanced search capabilities.

And let us not forget about the power of strategically timed promotions. “While retailers have expressed cautious optimism for the 2013 holiday season, the optimism hinges on the ability to drive sales through strategically timed promotions in the fourth quarter,” said Laura Freedman, president, e-tailing group. Retailers will offer promotions like buy-one-get-one free, free shipping, and flash sales at select times. October 1 will mark the date for 30 percent of retailers to begin offering holiday promotions, but more than 40 percent of those surveyed said they will wait until early November.

The holiday season is still a few months away, but with most things in life, it will be here before you know it. Projections show an optimistic outlook for retailers to increase profits this year versus last year, but only the numbers reported in January will tell the true story. However, we can be certain that mobile retail and an omni-channel experience will play a bigger part this holiday season than ever before.