The holiday season is upon us, and Christmas is just around the corner. The seasonal shopping frenzy kicked off on ‘Black Friday,” picked up steam on “Cyber Monday,” and continues all the way till Christmas eve.
The holiday season is a critical time for retailers. On average, approximately 30 percent of all sales have traditionally occurred between the Friday after Thanksgiving and Christmas, with jewelers and certain other retailers reporting that the holiday season accounted for 40 percent or more of their total annual sales. In recent years, an increasing number of shoppers have been turning to e-commerce sites instead of brick-and-mortar stores for their holiday shopping. For 2016, e-commerce sales are expected to increase by almost 14 percent although total retail sales are expected to increase by only 3 percent. If the predictions prove true, 2016 could be the first holiday season in which e-commerce's share of holiday sales exceeds 10 percent. However, the competition will be fierce, so it is important for online retailers to embrace the proper methods and strategies to give them an edge over their competitors.
Repeat customers are the goal of every business. Acquiring a new customer can cost up to six times as much as retaining an existing customer. However, the big payoff can come in the amount that repeat customers spend. Recent studies indicate that a second-time buyer spends up to three times as much as a first-time buyer, and customers making three or more purchases spend as much as five times as much as a new customer.
Few things are certain in the world of retailers, but one fact is inescapable: Customers are going to continue to become more demanding even as their habits change. Customers are no longer satisfied with a "cookie-cutter" approach to retail. They are not interested in why Jane Doe should buy an item -- they want to know why the item is perfect for them. Nor are they interested in whether a retailer has thousands of products -- they are only interested in whether the retailer has the product they want.
First came home shopping via radio and cable television, and then came the Internet and online retailers. Modern shoppers suddenly discovered the convenience of ordering a product from the comfort of home, even at 3 a.m.
As most retailers will freely admit, one of the more difficult aspects of pleasing customers is keeping up with their constantly changing desires. Consumers can be fickle; a brand or product that sold faster than retailers could stock their shelves last week may gather dust this week. Customers who were once reluctant to make purchases online have become increasingly more comfortable with the process. Shoppers who could not imagine using a mobile phone to place an order a decade ago are now conducting research, comparing pricing and purchasing items with their mobile devices.
Lively discussions often occur between marketers on the topic of whether landing pages or microsites are the better choice. These discussions sometimes become heated as proponents of each debate the merits of their own choice and the shortcomings of the alternative. What is often missed, however, is that landing pages and microsites are not interchangeable -- each is designed to serve specific marketing functions. Therefore, it is more important to define the purpose for which the landing page or microsite will be used.
A professionally developed e-commerce site can provide a lucrative revenue stream but the development of a successful e-commerce site can also have substantial maintenance costs.