What can we learn from the Holiday Season?


Recommendations to consider for 2019

We have pulled together multiple reports and statistics from the past Holiday Season to extract the key findings for e-commerce. Based on these, we offer some recommendations to implement in 2019 which will be guaranteed to boost your online sales during these busy periods.

Holiday shoppers spent more money online than ever before in 2018, according to a 2018 holiday wrap-up from Adobe Analytics. Consumers spent $126 billion from Nov. 1 through Dec. 31, averaging $2.1 billion a day — an increase of 16.5 percent from the previous year.

What’s more, the global statistics show us that online shoppers are making their holiday purchases earlier and earlier. An estimated 50% of holiday shopping was done throughout Cyber Week – completed by Monday, December 3rd 2018.


Which categories saw growth?

The largest growth for this holiday shopping season came from spending on home improvement, which increased by 9.0%. Apparel and clothing was next at 7.9% growth in comparison to 2017 – the best that this industry has seen since 2010 (source). The home furnishings and decorations category also saw an overall increase of 2.3%.

Surprisingly, for a category which one might think would perform better during the holiday season, electronics and appliances were down 0.7% (source). This is despite the fact many retailers were offering specific offers for electronics during Black Friday, Cyber Monday and the rest of the shopping season.

Brick-and-mortar continues to decline


Not surprisingly, physical stores didn’t fare well, decreasing in sales by 1.3% from 2017 (source).

Should we be surprised about this? No – this is an industry which has been experiencing declining numbers and store closures for years (see graph below – source).

The interesting statistic we could extract from 2018 though, is that physical stores are selling more than ever through their online outreach, with e- commerce sales increasing by 10.2% this year during the holiday period (source).


More people than ever using mobile to make purchases


The stats from the holiday sales 2018 show us that consumers used smartphones for more than half (51 percent) of online visits. Mobile revenue also continued to rise, increasing 34% over 2017’s holiday shopping season – with an incredible 74% increase in shoppers browsing from mobile phones on Christmas Day (source).

Having said this, m-commerce was actually only responsible for less than one-third (31 percent) of the revenue. Meanwhile desktop accounted for 40 percent of visits and 60 percent of revenue; tablets made up the remaining 9 percent of visits and revenue (source).

So although mobile’s involvement in e-commerce purchases is ever- increasing, there is still room for improvement.

Taylor Schreiner, director of Adobe Digital Insights, said that the disparity between mobile revenue and visits (source):

“Reinforces the opportunity for retailers to improve mobile conversion rates and increase smartphone revenue.”

Taylor Schreiner

The importance of AI in holiday season e-commerce


Across the entire season digital revenue grow by 12% globally, an AI played a crucial role in that growth.

An estimated 16% of digital buyers engaged with some form of AI-powered product recommendations during Cyber Week, with an 14% average increased in order value by shoppers who acted on these AI recommendations (source).

The greatest peak of engagement with AI-driven upselling came on Cyber Monday at 18%, with an average of 15% across the entire holiday season (source). Perhaps surprisingly for some, social media was the breakout channel for holiday traffic with a 22% increase on the previous year.

In terms of individual channels, Facebook and Instagram accounted for 93%

The take away messages?

So now we’ve had a look at the statistics, what can we actually learn from this and implement ourselves for the Holiday Season 2019?


1. Focus on mobile and social.

If we take one thing from the 2018 holiday season it should be that mobile and social should form the backbone of your strategy for this year.

To increase overall attention, purchases, and customer loyalty, retailers should focus on optimizing and personalized every shopper’s journey, especially on phones.


2. Optimize your online store and improve product findability.

There are fewer quicker ways to lose potential shoppers than an online store which loads slowly.

To avoid this, consider optimizing your images, minifying CSS and Javascript, reduce redirects and remove broken links.

Ensure you are satisfying your website visitors by talking to them. Run a survey with rewards on your product pages asking if the website loads fast enough, if it is easily navigable across devices to get an insight.

To stand out in a crowded shopping landscape, AI and site search help shoppers find what they seek. Product recommendations driven by artificial intelligence (AI) were one of a retailer’s most effective tools in 2018, with a strong effect on overall holiday spending. Therefore, tools

like Clerk.io or Raptor can be a way of increasing overall revenue during this busy period.


3. Support shoppers across multiple channels.

Those who sell the most in the Holiday season provide shoppers a seamless experience across service, marketing, and commerce on all their favorite devices and channels.

Highlight your products which you know are the best-selling or have the best offers this Christmas.
Think about how the offer is appearing to your viewers – both on your own webstore, email newsletters as well as Facebook and Instagram Ads. You want to make your content eye-catching and engaging so apply discounted price images, promotions and branding to your product images (image below).

Consider tools that offer Image Transformation, which lets you apply alterations to all your product images for sales channels.


4. Use the build-up to the Holidays as a time to audit and optimize


If you haven’t already started doing so, start implementing seasonal PPC keywords into your strategy.

During the holiday period, you’ll most likely get left behind if you don’t adjust your AdWords campaigns for seasonal keywords.For example, ‘craft supplies’ is a keyword that’s popular all year round, as you can see by the red line below.


You may have a more successful PPC campaign if you change the keywords you bid for in the lead up to Christmas. Remember though, a good PPC campaign relies heavily on solid research and testing!

While you are in the process of improving and optimizing your strategy, think about your product listings too. Improving images, descriptions, titles and adding missing data like GTINs can all give significant boosts to your online sales during this period.


Juan José Keena is COO @ WakeupData & Co-Founder @ Aarhus Makers.

If you are selling on Google Shopping – check out productfeedanalyzer.com to get a complete, free overview of your product data feed.

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