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BizReport : Ecommerce archives : November 22, 2011

Survey finds online merchants optimistic about holiday shopping

Black Friday deals are set and, in some cases, those deals are already leaking out to the consumer base. But Black Friday is only one day in the 5-week marathon that makes up the holiday shopping season. A new survey from Alibaba find more merchants are optimistic about the upcoming season than are pessimistic about low returns.

by Kristina Knight

"Our online community is driven by innovation, providing a marketplace for entrepreneurs with a vision of new or improved products," said Linda Kozlowski, Direction of Global Marketing and Customer Experience, Alibaba. "Despite our global economic woes, this spirit of entrepreneurship is not flagging in the US - which is good news for consumers and the market as a whole."

Some interesting take-aways include:

• 64% of merchants say they'll use optimism - selling bright colored products, etc. - to market through the season
• 45% plan to use Word Of Mouth efforts moreso than social networking
• 42% plan to use social networks to reach in-market shoppers, 34% will utilize email marketing, 33% will use coupons
• Discounts are starting early (mid-November) and continuing into December

Why aren't more merchants opting in to social networks? Because they aren't convinced social will bring them more shoppers. For the 42% using social networks, most will put the focus on Facebook (61%); Twitter (21%) and YouTube (13%) will also get quite a bit of play. For Facebook in particular, merchants say they'll primarily use Fan Pages to promote products.

Merchants aren't dismissing discounts this holiday season. In addition to the one-third who plan to use coupons, 47% plan to offer free ground shipping, 43% expedited shipping, 28% will offer one-time deals but only 3% plan to partner with group buying sites.

As for whom merchants will be targeting in their advertising women win hands down. Citing trends that women buy early and buy more often, that women spend upwards of four times more than men over the holiday season and that women tend to price-check or compare and research prior to a purchase, merchants say they'll focus on getting the right information to female shoppers at the right time.

Tags: 2011 holiday shopping, Alibaba, ecommerce, ecommerce trends, online shopping

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