3 Holiday Shopping Trends on the Rise in 2016!

The holiday season is continuing to evolve as consumers develop new ways to shop and pick up their products, use different devices during their shopping process, and find different and quirky reasons to make more purchases. This holiday season there are three new trends that advertisers should be aware of: online shopping with in-store pickup, […]

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The holiday season is continuing to evolve as consumers develop new ways to shop and pick up their products, use different devices during their shopping process, and find different and quirky reasons to make more purchases. This holiday season there are three new trends that advertisers should be aware of: online shopping with in-store pickup, the continued rise of mobile, and new “trendy” holidays giving consumers a reason to shop more. Learn more about these three growing trends in the 2016 holiday season, featuring in-depth analysis from our monthly advertiser webinars!

1. Buying Online, Picking up in Store
Customers will be leveraging online shopping in a number of ways in the coming holiday season, and once they make a purchase they’ll want to get the product in their hands as soon as possible. While fast shipping options are always available, an alternative to having the product delivered has become increasingly popular with holiday customers: in-store pickup.

It’s not hard to guess why in-store pickup has become so popular. Online shopping provides a convenience that can’t be matched (who doesn’t love getting their holiday shopping done from anywhere at any time?) along with the instant gratification of having the product in their hand almost as immediate as going into the store, cutting down shipping times. However, there are more reasons that in-store pickup is so popular with today’s shoppers. Using in-store pickup assures the customer the product is there and waiting for them in as little time as an hour, getting the purchase is as fast as waiting in a drive-thru line, and it reduces the chance for errors such as shipping and handling mistakes or inventory problems.

According to eMarketer, 50% of shoppers ages 21-39 planned on using in-store pickup as a method for shopping during the 2015 holiday season. The growth of online shopping from 2014 to 2015 took a huge leap. As shown by the graph, Millennials and Generation X were the two biggest leaps. Millennials almost doubled in their plan to use in-store pickup (34% used it in 2014, while 63% planned to use it in 2015), and Gen X saw a 15% increase from 2014 to 2015 (42% in 2014 compared to 57% in 2015 respectively). According to a CNBC report, part of this growth was from so many people trying out in-store pickup for the first time last season, with 49% of people testing it out.

This is significant to your holiday strategy. Not only do consumers like it, but these numbers will continue to grow. We know that Gen X is currently the most influential consumer generation right now, but Millennials will continue to become more influential in the marketplace as more of them have familiar and increase their holiday spending. Bottom line: if you offer in-store pickup, make sure you promote that offer. The Rakuten Affiliate Network found that multi-brand retailers saw the highest response to in-store pickup offers, so if you happen to fall into that advertiser category this is all the more reason to offer in-store pickup or promote it out.

2. Mobile is (More) Essential
Does it feel like everyone seems to be talking about mobile these days? There’s a good reason for that – mobile just keeps on growing. For shoppers, it’s gone from novelty to integral in the buying process very quickly.

Take the holidays last year for example. According to our research, mobile commerce (M-Commerce) grew 10x in a year-over-year analysis from 2014 to 2015. Sales went up 162% from 2014 to 2015 during Black Friday, compared to just 69% increase in sales on desktops. And that was just Black Friday – Cyber Monday (93%), Manic Monday (107%), and Boxing Day (170%) all had significant increases in sales within the Rakuten Affiliate Network.

Separate research from eMarketer supports these findings. In one study examining desktop and mobile sales, eMarketer found that $12.65 billion dollars in sales were done by mobile devices during the 2015 holiday season – a 59% increase over 2014. Desktop still had a commanding share of the holiday sales from devices with $56.43 billion dollars in sales during that same period, but that was only a 6% increase from 2014. The evidence is there – mobile is growing.

Two points to keep in mind for mobile this holiday season: app tracking and mobile-optimized content. Being able to track in-app activity (as opposed to only tracking web activity) is something that can help advertisers understand how users are engaging with their apps and the products listed on apps from their affiliate partners. As for content being created by your publisher partners, you’ll want to make sure you’re working with them to ensure that content is user-friendly on mobile devices. Ensuring the creative you provide is mobile friendly can help reach more consumers and have a strong positive impact on your brand during the holiday season.

3. More Holidays During the Holiday Season
Typically the holiday season only encompasses a few, high-profile holidays, with Christmas and Hanukkah being two of the biggest dates to keep in mind (Hanukkah technically being several days that varies from time to time, but the same point remains). However, over the past few years, there have been more events introduced into the mainstream public that can be advantageous for advertisers to take advantage of.

The first holiday is like Christmas in that it’s a designated date every year: November 11, or 11/11, to celebrate Singles Day. This holiday has been very popular in Asia (originating in China) and has a rising presence in Australia as well. And, while this holiday has become more popular over time, sales during this holiday has grown 60% from 2014 to 2015 with eMarketer citing how shoppers planned to spend more money on 11/11/15 than a year prior. That means two things: shoppers are anticipating this holiday more, and that the holiday is growing.

This social holiday recognizing and celebrating single men and women has created interesting consumer behavior – why spend money on a significant other you don’t have when you can spend the money on yourself? Last Singles Day there were at least 29 Rakuten Affiliate Network advertisers who took advantage of this growing holiday and saw their sales jump, with Department Stores, Beauty, and Luxury Brands being among those promoting out to singles in China and Asia. These stores within the network saw their same-store order growth jump nearly 50% on November 11 compared to years past. All this adds up to make a very strong case to start evaluating how to promote cross-border shipping and shopping to consumers overseas. 

The other day is Free Shipping Day, which lands on December 18 this year. Free Shipping Day is exactly what it sounds like – free shipping for that day with participating advertisers. Why this day? Because it’s the last day for online orders to be made where they can arrive before Christmas. This is a great promotion that’s growing interest in the US – last year there was a year-over-year sales increase of 24% and a 32% orders increase. For those last minute shoppers who are looking to find something online but aren’t sure if it will arrive in time for Christmas Day, Free Shipping Day has made the cutoff point a celebration as well as a reminder. “This is your last chance, but don’t worry – we’ve got shipping covered!” This is a great trend to jump on as it gives your customers an idea of when they have until to make their orders, while still giving them additional incentive to make those orders and not panic about whether or not their gifts will arrive in time.

Want to prepare even more for the holidays? Watch the full holiday preparation webinar here!

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