You’ve heard it, thought about it, and probably (hopefully) put a plan together. But are you truly ready for the 2018 holiday shopping season? Even the best of plans can be improved with the latest information about this year’s biggest retail event.

Related Content: Key Holiday Shopping Days to Drive Both Early & Late Sales

In early October, eMarketer released its Holiday Shopping 2018 report detailing what to expect over the next few months. The report is bubbling over with data that’s good to know and keep in mind while diving into the festive retail season. That’s why we’re giving you the abbreviated version of what you need to know and how to capitalize on it.

Editor’s Note: eMarketer released an updated forecast for the 2018 holiday season on November 5, stating it expects this year to be the first $1 trillion U.S. holiday season in spending. The factors considered in this prediction include continued strength in the labor market, GDP growth, and positive consumer sentiment.

Strong economic factors forecast spending surge

Ecommerce—and more importantly mcommerce (mobile commerce)—sales are expected to grow by 32.6 percent, accounting for 44 percent of holiday ecommerce spending, according to eMarketer.

Currently, consumers are spending a healthy amount of money due to a positive macroeconomic environment. What does that mean? Despite high gas prices and the potential impact of newly imposed tariffs, Americans seem to be looking forward to spending money this holiday season. In fact, eMarketer expects spending to total $986.77 billion during November and December.

In addition, the report details how brick-and-mortar shopping will continue, but ecommerce—and more importantly mcommerce (mobile commerce)—sales are expected to grow by 32.6 percent, accounting for 44 percent of holiday ecommerce spending.

KEY STAT: 2018 US holiday ecommerce sales are expected to grow 16.2 percent to $123.39 billion.

“More people are using multiple devices to shop,” says Lisa Graves, DEG senior relationship marketing strategist. “That means brands need a seamless experience across all devices, and onsite to meet customer expectations for both online and in-store shopping.”

Mcommerce fuels ecommerce growth

Research firm comScore found that nearly two-thirds of online shopping activity occurs on mobile devices, and mcommerce is nearing a majority share of ecommerce spending. Seamless, optimized shopping experiences are driving people to become increasingly more comfortable making purchase transactions on smartphones, rather than simply browsing products on mobile websites and applications.

KEY STAT: Retail mcommerce is expected to generate 5.5 percent of total retail holiday sales, contributing 34 percent of the growth of ecommerce sales.

“Social media makes it easier than ever to find your loyal customers and others who look just like them. Capture attention with meaningful content and relevant messaging to keep their focus for where to buy,” says DEG Director of Social Media Jen Forrest.

Looking at leading online retailer data from the 2017 holiday season, mobile shopping occurred predominantly on apps over mobile websites. It may be because when people unlock their smartphones to shop, they’re driven by the path of least resistance—toward familiar brand logos—to make purchases on mobile apps that are already at their fingertips. However, if consumers go into a shopping session with a specific retailer in mind, it could drive sales specifically on that retailer’s mobile app or website, instead of defaulting toward retail giants.

“Social media makes it easier than ever to find your loyal customers and others who look just like them,” says Jen Forrest, DEG director of social media. “Capture their attention with meaningful content and relevant messaging to keep their focus for where to buy. Make sure your content strategy has messaging across the buying cycle so you’re solving for the moment of need.”

Another important detail of convenience is the post-Thanksgiving dinner “couch commerce” transactions that can increase sales. NetElixir reported that 15 percent of retail purchases made during the five-day period starting with our national holiday, occurred on Thanksgiving alone.

Key shopping days drive both early and late purchases

Shopping and promotional activity can begin at any time—there may even be no break between back-to-school shopping and the holidays—but the holiday season officially kicks off on November 1. Both key shopping dates and promotional offers help propel people into the game of holiday retail. Key holiday shopping days include:

  • Singles’ Day—China’s November 11 online shopping extravaganza
  • Thanksgiving—November 22
  • Cyber Five—begins Thanksgiving Day and ends on Cyber Monday
  • Cyber Monday—November 26
  • Cyber Week—ends Saturday, December 1
  • Green Monday—December 10
  • Free Shipping Day—December 14
  • Final two-day-shipping-guaranteed day—December 17

According to eMarketer, the heaviest online shopping day will again be Cyber Monday, while ecommerce continues to grow on both Thanksgiving and Black Friday.

KEY STAT: eMarketer expects the November-December holiday season will account for 18.6 percent of full-year total retail sales and 23.5 percent of ecommerce sales.

Focusing your efforts on several key days of the shopping season will help refresh the offers you’re displaying on your website and entice both current and potential customers to follow through with seasonal purchases. Consider using Free Shipping Day and the final two-day-shipping-guarantee day as your final ecommerce push for your brand before Americans choose to quickly rush in stores the weekend before Christmas.

With 32 days between Thanksgiving and Christmas, the 2018 holiday retail season gives shoppers plenty of time to shop online and receive their holiday orders before December 25. And online shopping may begin earlier for more people, depending on the key dates you choose to use for promotions.

Download your copy of our 2018 Holiday Marketing Strategy Guide

It’s not too late to make some last-minute adjustments to your holiday marketing plan to maximize sales. Download our ebook, Countdown to the Holidays, for all the tips and tricks you need to plan and execute a successful integrated marketing campaign this season.

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