As shoppers prepare to descend on their favorite stores this Friday as the holiday shopping season gets underway, retailers are preparing to greet them with deals that they hope will be too good to pass up.
Retailers are optimistic about their prospects this year, but they're arguably going to have to work harder than ever if they want to maximize their sales. The reason? More and more consumers are deciding to shop from home on Black Friday and Thanksgiving weekend, forcing retailers to hone their online and offline strategies.
As Black Friday is only a few days away, stores on and offline are rushing to be the first choice for consumers. Though the brick and mortar shops are still leading the way, ecommerce is quickly catching up.
IgnitionOne has put together this handy infographic to highlight the shift in shopping by the numbers. The biggest uplift in sales had to be Cyber Monday in 2011 which was actually the heaviest online shopping day of all time, bringing in $1.25 billion in sales.
50% of those dollars spent orginated from people buying at work which would make sense for those who couldn't get to the deals on Black Friday in store.
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.
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.
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?
For companies hit by Google's Panda updates, the search giant's approach to cleaning up its index may seem quite unfair.
But if Google has been aggressive with Panda, its efforts appear to be
no match when compared to Microsoft's efforts to increase index quality
on Bing. Need proof? Just ask CyberMonday.com, which is run by the
National Retail Federation's Shop.org.
Would a Thanksgiving and Black Friday push that saw retailers pushing online deals as hard as they were pushing offline deals have a negative impact on Cyber Monday?
Some retail industry observers argued that retailers eager to make Black Friday a multichannel event might simply shift purchases that would have come on Cyber Monday.
Holiday shoppers sprinted to snatch up bargains last week, so were the cautious observers right?
Cyber Monday may be today, but many of the major retailers in the United States, eager to start the holiday shopping season strong, brought their sales online for Black Friday last week.
According to comScore, it worked: more than 50m Americans visited ecommerce websites on Friday, spending $816m, 26% more than they did in 2010. What's more: thanks to Thanksgiving Day sales, retailers sold $479m worth of stuff last Thursday, 18% more than they sold the year prior.
Some of the largest, most prominent multichannel retailers in the United States are so eager to get the holiday shopping season started that they're kicking Black Friday off early this year.
Instead of opening their doors to crowds on Friday morning, many are opening as early as midnight, hoping to cash in on consumers itching to burn off calories with some post-turkey dinner shopping.
Black Friday used to be a day of excessive shopping and deals for retailers taking advantage of consumers with Thanksgiving vacation time. But as the online and offline worlds merge, the distinction between Black Friday and Cyber Monday is quickly disappearing.
Retailers are stepping up their online offers for the weekend, but those who wait until Cyber Monday to lure customers are going to miss out on large returns.