Planning for the holiday shopping season mainly consists of strategizing what promotional offers you’ll focus on, and when they’ll be available for consumers. Many people know the traditional holiday shopping days to hit, but it may do your brand justice to focus on a few of the more obscure shopping days to boost sales.

Related Content: Breaking Down eMarketer’s 2018 Holiday Retail Predictions

We break down eMarketer’s Holiday Shopping 2018 report on key holiday shopping days to prepare for in 2018.

The first milestones of the holiday retail season

We know that holiday shopping seems to start earlier and earlier each year—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.

You may think the first key holiday shopping date is Thanksgiving, but the first milestone is actually China’s November 11 online shopping extravaganza known as Singles’ Day. Although only seven percent of American internet users are aware of it, Singles’ Day boasts many-times-higher sales figures than top U.S. online shopping days, according to eMarketer.

KEY STAT: In 2017, ecommerce giant Alibaba posted a Singles’ Day sales record of $25.3 billion.

Next is the Thanksgiving holiday itself—once considered the calm before the storm—which now boasts open brick-and-mortar shops and time-specific sales offers. This shopping date marks the beginning of Cyber Five, the five-day period of peak online shopping ending on Cyber Monday.

A truly omnichannel shopping experience

One thing to note is the truly omnichannel shopping holiday, Black Friday, which draws millions of U.S. shoppers both into stores and online. Having your mobile website ready for increased traffic and your checkout process streamlined are two important to-dos before Black Friday hits.

Although mcommerce is growing, Cyber Monday 2017 sales showed that people continue to make purchases on their desktops at work following the crazed shopping weekend.

“It’s important to meet each person with the right message at the right moment as they shop this holiday season,” says Neal Sharma, DEG CEO. “You can accomplish this via a website, a text message, social message, advertisement, or an email—it’s all about finding the right content and reaching customers in the right moment.”

Although mcommerce is growing, Cyber Monday 2017 sales showed that people continue to make purchases on their desktops at work following the crazed shopping weekend. Adobe Insights found that more than half of ecommerce traffic and two-thirds of sales on Cyber Monday last year were from desktop users.

KEY STAT: According to “The eMarketer 2018 Holiday Survey” conducted by Bizrate Insights, 73 percent of internet users plan to shop on Cyber Monday, 67 percent on Black Friday, 63 percent on Free Shipping Day (last day to get free delivery by Christmas), and 53 percent on Thanksgiving.

Cyber Week and various promotions boost traffic

Following Cyber Monday, the period of ongoing promotions known as Cyber Week features several of the heaviest spending days of the year. According to the research firm The NPD Group, 43 percent of digital buyers spent an average of $248 per purchase during Cyber Week 2017 (the week ending Saturday, December 2, 2017).

KEY STAT: In 2017, sales growth was driven more buyers (up 7 percent year over year) purchased more often (up 9 percent year over year), according to The NPD Group.

“While key promotions are no longer confined to single days, it’s still important to offer your best deals on Black Friday and Cyber Monday,” says Tony Toubia, DEG senior relationship marketing strategist. “Refresh your offers with variety, give a gift with a purchase, or put a unique spin on each day to stand out.”

A few key dates to hit right before Christmas

A lesser-known online shopping day is Green Monday—termed in 2007 by eBay—which falls on the second Monday in December when some holiday shoppers rush to make purchases before it’s too late. Consider a promotional offer on Green Monday this year, which falls on December 10, 2018.

Download your copy of our 2018 Holiday Marketing Strategy Guide

However, you may want to focus your ecommerce marketing attention on Free Shipping Day—Friday, December 14, 2018—and the final two-day-shipping-guarantee day on Monday, December 17, 2018. Both days tend to draw online attention toward your products with Americans relying on quick-and-cheap shipping to guarantee smiles from their loved ones on Christmas Day.

But don’t be shocked if holiday sales continue closer to Christmas. American shoppers grow increasingly comfortable with shopping longer into the season, particularly when fast shipping and in-store pickup options are available.

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.

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.

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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