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BizReport : Ecommerce archives : October 20, 2011

How to improve predicted weak holiday sales

First the National Retail Federation released their retail holiday forecast (+2%), now BrandKeys is predicting a similar situation. With the continued weak global economy is there a chance for online businesses to pull a few more sales from the upcoming holiday season? Yes, says one expert. Here are his solutions.

by Kristina Knight

Recently and Ipsos Public Affairs released a pre-cursor survey to the upcoming holiday season. The gist? That consumers are now shopping year-round for holiday goodies and that holiday revenue may begin as early as November first.

"I predict that after Halloween, because it lands on a weekend leading to more parties, that we'll start seeing holiday sales being advertised," said Steve Schaffer, CEO, "There is a big assumption that holiday shopping is Black Friday to Christmas Eve, but [this year] we'll start seeing holiday sales being advertised early."

Some findings from the survey included that only about 26% of consumers look online for coupons/deals prior to making purchases, 87% plan to spend the same or less than they spent in 2010 and that half (52%) research products online for at least an hour before committing to a purchase. Because of that research time, even with only about one-quarter of consumers actively looking for coupons or discounts, Schaffer believes online retailers need a solid coupon strategy.

"I think [retailers] need to make sure they have a deal or coupon strategy and that they are telling deal websites about their offers," said Schaffer. "Consumers will make purchases this year based on the types of deals, so if etailers are communicating their offers, they'll make more sales."

Schaffer also thinks, although the overall holiday spend will only increase 2-3% that online sales will likely increase 10-20% for the quarter. His top three tips:

• Start advertising sales/specials on November 1 rather than waiting later into the year - catch those early shoppers early
• Depending on how consumers actually spend, have a back-up plan in place for advertising, coupons and deal offers
• Communicate with retail partners - make it simple for consumers to find your coupons or discounts because if they find them, they'll use them

Tags: ecommerce, holiday spending, holidays 2011,, online shopping

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