E-commerce Outlook – Christmas Shopping Online 2011

Share to Reddit

According to comScore’s latest retail sales estimates, US online retail spending reached $37.5 billion for the second quarter of this year.  That’s up 14 percent on the previous year.  It’s the seventh consecutive quarter of year-on-year growth and the third consecutive quarter of double digit growth.

Against this background and with Christmas approaching, we thought it was time to see what this year’s online shopping is likely to look like.

Search Engine Watch posted yesterday on Google’s Holiday 2011 Consumer Intentions Report.

There is plenty in the post but these 3 sections interested me:

  • 50% of shoppers will start shopping in the next 22 days.
  • Search Query volume is up 46% year-on-year while Google is servicing 26% less ads.
  • The importance of mobile and tablets.

These 3 points have implications if you plan to sell this Christmas:

  • If you don’t already have your act together, it is time to get something in place.
  • Google Adwords should have some cheap inventory if you can find it.
  • Price is not the only differentiator you have.

How Will These Shoppers Buy?

Recent research by Ipsos shows holiday shoppers intending to spend less and seek deals.  This trend towards deals and coupons is also raised in the Google post.   The 2011 Social Shopping Study from Power Reviews  gives us some insight into how shoppers are likely to research and buy online.

Interestingly the findings indicate that Facebook and Twitter are not a factor in most online purchasing decisions:

  • 71% answered “I rarely” or “I never” read and research on social sites to gather ideas

When researching branded products online, which most closely represents where you begin that process?

  • 44% Search engine
  • 33% Retailer sites

I’ve seen some pretty one dimensional conslusions on how and why people buy based on this and similar studies.  It is clear from various sources that online research is driving increasing online sales and also impacting more and more offline retail sales.  A study on how consumers research, select and buy goods online, though, sort of designs in particular outcomes.

My own feeling is that when you survey how people research online, respondants will overstate how much they research, how important it is and how actively they will seek deals.  We want to believe that we are somewhat intelligent creatures.  When the question is put to you, it seems a bit silly not to research.  Not to look for deals.  In reality, our decisions are much more emotional.

Relationships, offers and email can prompt purchases.  Word of mouth, online and off will prompt purchases.  These purchases don’t start and often don’t involve any research process.  So relationships and communication through your site, your social media and your email list can and will still impact on your sales.

What is clear about the consumer research process is that it goes from Google to retailer sites.  So SEO and SEM will be crucial to getting part of the pie.  There will be more searchers than ever online in the run up to this Christmas and while most still prefer to shop offline, online sales continue to grow.

Related posts:

  1. Christmas Shopping Online – A DIY SEO Audit
Share to Reddit

Comments are closed.