Online shopping continues to grow with ecommerce sales predicted to reach $963 billion globally by 2013, with an annual growth rate of 19.4 percent. This rapidly expanding global digital community represents a vast potential marketplace for any retail business with an online presence. Books, clothes, magazines, shoes and electronics are the top five holiday purchase categories globally, according to a new survey of 4,000 consumers in the U.S., France, Germany and the UK. Health supplements, pet supplies, gardening products, Do-It-Yourself products and crafts ranked last of the preferred items for online purchase. According to the report conducted for Pitney Bowes, Consumer Trends in Online Shopping and Shipping, online purchases of every type of product are up over the last 12 months, and books and clothes are leading the way with 25 percent of respondents reporting that they had more of these items delivered to their homes in the past year. “For the first 56 days of the November-December 2011 holiday season, $35.3 billion was spent online, an increase of 15 percent over the corresponding days in 2010, and a new record,” comScore, Inc., reports. The migration to digital e-commerce globally is also fueled by mobile trends, and personal devices with branded apps are dramatically changing consumer buying behavior.
Ecommerce retailers looking to capitalize on these trends should prepare for the season with technologies that meet these consumers online or in store. Here are some recommendations from Pitney Bowes for a successful ecommerce holiday season:
- For the consumer in any country, the shopping cart experience must be seamless. E-commerce solutions now automatically calculate cross-border fees, end to end shipping and local taxes. They also filter out products that are prohibited from being sold in certain locales by import and export regulations.
- Use a multi-channel approach for holiday campaigns. Direct mail, call centers, websites, live chat, texts, social media and email should all be leveraging the same customer data and communicating in a similar tone.
- Pace your communications for a two-way conversation to build customer loyalty. Timing and acknowledging previous touch points build intimacy.
- Make returns and customer service easy. Consumers will remember and return.
- Measure your cross-border success as new technology solutions contribute to the emergence of this revenue-generating trend.
The online marketplace is thriving and represents a huge opportunity for retailers with an online presence. Having sought-after merchandise in stock, and instituting a few online shopping best practices at the onset of the season, can lead to successful holiday sales.