How the Longer Holiday Shopping Season Benefits Online Retailers

November 20, 2015

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Years ago, November was filled with Thanksgiving decorations, and shopping for the holidays was just a thought in the back of our minds. Now things are much different — and that’s honestly a good thing for online retailers. Retailers now have more time than ever to push their holiday sales and get the most out of the season.

Online retailers already have an advantage over brick-and-mortar stores because it’s easier to get multiple holiday-themed landing and product pages up sooner than physical displays. A walk into your local drugstore on November 1 might present you with some Christmas decorations, but it’s more likely that you’ll see at least a few shelves of discounted Halloween candy and costumes.

Retailers are driving demand earlier in the year, and luckily shoppers have been receptive. Nearly half (40%) of consumers begin product research and holiday shopping before Halloween so they can take advantage of great deals as they arise and give their holiday budget a break.

Shoppers are starting earlier, and they’re also finding Black Friday less important, according to Deloitte. In fact, 52% of shoppers say they rely less on Black Friday than they used to, and 41% say the same about Cyber Monday. A big question retailers have to contend with this season is how to build up the excitement if shoppers are ho-hum about Black Friday. The answer can be found in the longer holiday season. This is a good thing for retailers because shoppers are spreading out their holiday purchases, providing more opportunities to successfully cross-sell and upsell. More shopping could lead to more impulse purchases, but it’s a matter of increasing average order values and drawing shoppers in to make a purchase more than once during the longer holiday shopping season.

Typically Black Friday ushered in the holiday season, but that isn’t the case anymore. Some retailers started their promotions back in July to capitalize on demand, which makes sense to get shoppers in planning mode early. Another trend that has become increasingly common is opening on Thanksgiving evening with doorbuster deals. However, some retailers are putting their foot down and keeping their doors shut on Thanksgiving. Staples recently announced it wouldn’t be open on Thanksgiving, and instead shoppers can go online or start shopping in-store at 6 a.m. on Black Friday. This decision could have been the result of lackluster sales mixed with low employee morale, since it’s traditionally a day to spend time with loved ones.

The most radical announcement came from REI, with its #OptOutside campaign. Not only are REI stores closed on Thanksgiving, but they will also remain closed on Black Friday to encourage customers and employees alike to get outside and do something active. REI takes Staples’ announcement a step further by giving employees a paid day off and integrating the campaign with the company’s core value of enjoying the outdoors.

It’s clear that this holiday season will be unlike any other. The stakes are high, and breaking away from the status quo seems to be the most successful strategy. Retailers with a strong online presence are at an advantage because they can keep their virtual doors open 24/7 to cash in on demand.

Want to learn more about what you can expect from the 2015 holiday shopping season? Wiser’s new holiday eBook has the numbers retailers need to know and the strategies to help them get the most out of the holidays.

Blog post by Angelica Valentine, content marketing manager, Wiser


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