The digital trends expected to drive shopping this Holiday season

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Video content, social commerce and geo-targeted campaigns are among the digital trends expected to drive retail strategy in the US this coming Holiday shopping season.

Annual predictions from global analytics and insights firm Blueocean Market Intelligence, also point to mobile commerce, free shipping offers and in-store pickup promotions, and a focus on consumers shopping early.

Anees Merchant, senior vice president of digital, for Blueocean Market Intelligence, says retailers will be challenged by a vast number of strategic choices and digital tactics this year. “Considering the number of social platforms that have mushroomed in recent years, retailers can’t just hop on Facebook with a ‘me too’ strategy. They have to make informed decisions about which networks to invest their resources in to achieve the greatest impact. Social media is no longer about following the mass; it’s about following and converting target audiences,” he says.

Blueocean Market Intelligence bases its findings on an ongoing analysis of the social media efforts of 100 top retailers (as defined by the NRF) with its Social Media Effectiveness Index for Retailers. Here’s a complete breakdown of the predictions:

  • Visual content and interactions will play an important role in holiday campaigns. Retailers across industries will entice their customers with high quality audio and video. Video and image sharing will be dominant on Twitter, Facebook, Google+, Instagram, Pinterest, and of course, YouTube
  • Social shopping becomes a reality. With the introduction of Twitter’s “buy” button and Facebook’s e-commerce integration, there will be a big push with social shopping. Many e-commerce giants are already piloting programs – a sign that mainstream adoption isn’t far away
  • Retailers will spend more on social- and geo-targeted campaigns. Retailers will direct a significantly greater portion of their marketing budgets toward social, and especially around geo-targeting customers. Consumers can expect different offers by state and city
  • Consumers will shop early. Customers don’t want to wait or only visit stores on select days, so they will take advantage of early offers that retailers push in October. As a result, retailers may eventually opt for guaranteed delivery cutoff dates closer to mid-December, rather than waiting until Christmas Eve
  • Mobile commerce will experience a big turnaround. Mobile visits to e-commerce sites have boomed in recent years, and Blueocean Market Intelligence’s SEI for Retailers has confirmed major retailers are making a great effort to push mobile apps
  • Online retailers will use free shipping and in-store pickup incentives to drive more sales. A 2014 survey by UPS and ComScore found 81% of online shoppers believe free shipping is important. Complimentary in-store pickup, too, has been found to be an effective promotion in recent years. Companies that actively communicate theses incentives via social and digital platforms have the potential to drive more sales this holiday.

Image via Bloomberg