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Black Friday Ecommerce Trends

Is Your Ecommerce Site On-Trend for Holiday Sales?

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As we head into the busiest shopping days of the year, here’s a quick look at online sales trends, and some of the biggest drivers of holiday shopping decisions.

Despite having names still rooted in one-day sales events, Black Friday and Cyber Monday are now weeks-long promotions that might as well apply to the entire holiday shopping season. This year Black Friday pricing was promoted by some retailers as early as September–but rather than creating consumer fatigue, Black Friday emails are actually being opened and read at a higher rate than last year, leading to continued online sales growth and a continued shift in consumer behavior.

According to the U.S. Commerce Department, online sales for Q3 2016 were up 15.6% over last year, and those gains are expected to continue through the holidays. Retailers like Amazon and Walmart have been pushing holiday promotions and unrelated promotions, like Amazon’s Prime Day, with great success this year. This has led to overall sales growth throughout the season, and an expectation for less concentrated sales during the traditional shopping days–as well as a continued decline in in-store purchases. In fact, a JDA survey reveals that more than half of all consumers are expected to skip the brick and mortar sales this year, and take advantage of online promotions instead.

Meeting online consumer demand for faster shipping options and easy returns (especially in-store returns) has contributed to ecommerce growth this year. But according to comScore, the number one driver of online purchasing decisions is still free shipping. In Q3, 53% of consumers reported that free shipping is the most important factor when deciding to make an online purchase. In fact, the JDA survey revealed that free shipping is so important to consumers that 69% of respondents said that they have spent more than they had planned on a purchase, just to reach a minimum threshold to qualify for free shipping. And that number jumps to 80% during the weekend from Black Friday through Cyber Monday.

Finally, especially for mobile users who are trying to stay connected to family and friends during the busy holiday season, consumers looking for gift ideas are more likely to be influenced by shares on social media, or to start their search for gift inspiration on their favorite social sites. So social media marketing and campaigns that go viral will continue to be a big driver of holiday sales–and Etailers need to make sure that those clicks lead to a smooth shopping experience for mobile users, who are expected to account for more than 30% of online sales this holiday season.

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