Two important online retail trends have seemingly emerged thus far this holiday shopping season. One: mobile is here. The other: social as a channel isn't a player.
While few would dare dispute the former, some are not quite ready to buy into the notion that social's impact is barely visible.
Despite the fact that social ad spend is expected to double by 2016 and analysts are increasingly bullish on native social ads, search continues to be the go-to channel for advertisers looking to drive ROI.
The record-breaking holiday shopping season is making that abundantly apparent. While sales driven by social referrals have thus far been miniscule, early analysis of Black Friday sales data by search and analytics consulting firm NetElixer finds that search ads are killing it.
Thanks to the rise of online shopping, Cyber Monday is now arguably just as big a cultural institution as its cousin, Black Friday. And it's only getting bigger: with Black Friday online sales topping $1bn for the first time ever, analysts are predicting that when retailers are done counting, this year's Cyber Monday may produce more than $1.5bn in sales.
Naturally, that has companies looking to cash in. But the deals aren't just limited to traditional holiday shopping fare like clothing.
The holiday shopping rush will begin next week in earnest and, as they do every year, retailers are hoping that the most important season will be good to them.
While online channels have grown increasingly important in recent years, historically, the name of the game for retailers has been to get as many people lining up outside of stores at insane hours in anticipation of deals that await them when the doors open.
But times are changing. According to the National Retail Federation (NRF), fewer holiday bargain hunters will venture out on Black Friday and subsequent weekend. All told, the NRF expects 147m Americans to leave their homes for the mall next week, down from 152m in 2012.
When shopping around for the best deal across online and offline channels, consumers are often given a simple yet frustrating choice: convenience or price.
This is particularly true when it comes to price match guarantees offered in brick-and-mortar stores, which often restrict the price match to a price offered by another brick-and-mortar retailer.
Retailer infatuation with Pinterest is not a new phenomenon. Of the many companies embracing the hot image-based social network, retailers, for obvious reasons, quickly saw the potential to promote their wares.
Just how much are retailers investing in Pinterest? According to a new study by Responsys, major retailers have been making Pinterest a focal point of their email marketing campaigns this year.
Marketers know that smart phones and tablets are increasingly part of the "path to purchase" for many consumers, but how big a role did they play in purchasing decisions this past holiday season?
According to Google, a big one.
The 2011 holiday shopping season was a banner year for online retail, which broke numerous records. Savvy retailers can pat themselves on the back; the best have become incredibly adept at enticing consumers and delivering a great customer experience.
But they'll probably also want to thank their spend on search according to a new report by IgnitionOne, which found that significant increases in this area for Q4 boosted impressions, clicks and transactions.
As of mid-December 2011, six of the largest online spending days ever in the United States had been seen during the holiday shopping season.
So it's not surprising that the holiday shopping season of November and December of last year proved to be the biggest ever.
According to comScore, the total haul for online retailers was a whopping $37.2bn, up 15% from the prior year.
Online and multichannel retailers pulled out their big guns in an effort to entice shoppers to open their wallets this holiday shopping season.
Early sales and heavy discounts figured prominently in their strategies, leading some to wonder whether they'd do too much, too early, leading to a drop-off in sales as the season progressed.
We quickly learned that the strong start sparked by Thanksgiving Day sales didn't apear to have a negative impact on Black Friday, and a strong Black Friday didn't stop consumers from spending on Cyber Monday.
But how are things going now?