By Rieva Lesonsky
While the surging cost of gasoline and the upcoming presidential election are still wild cards that could affect holiday spending, so far the retail outlook for 2012 is positive, according to a Deloitte forecast.
Total holiday sales are projected to reach between $920 billion and $925 billion, a 3.5 to 4 percent increase in holiday sales (November through January) compared to last year. Although that forecast is below last year’s increase of 5.9 percent, Deloitte is also predicting an increase of 15 to 17 percent in non-store sales. Three-fourths of that is online; the rest are from TV and mail order catalogs.
Not only are nonstore sales outpacing overall retail growth, Deloitte says, but they are increasingly influencing what consumers do in-store. “From trip planning, to in-store product research, [to] post-purchase reviews and sharing, this holiday season, retailers’ most lucrative customers may be the ones they engage across physical and virtual storefronts,” said Alison Paul, vice chairman, Deloitte LLP and retail and distribution sector leader.
Consumers will still be price-conscious this year, making your digital marketing and retailing strategy even more important. What do you need to know?
- Offer more price transparency. Your pricing should be the same across mobile, online and in-store channels.
- Get mobile. Deloitte says mobile-influenced retail store sales will account for 5.1 percent, or $36 billion, in retail store sales this year during the holiday season. Even if you don’t yet offer m-commerce, make sure consumers can find your store on local search, ratings and review sites, and that your website is mobile-friendly so customers can find the information they need.
- Don’t fear showrooming. Deloitte reports that shoppers who have smartphones are actually 14 percent more likely to make a purchase in the store than those who don’t use smartphones in-store. Make sure you engage with smartphone-toting shoppers to answer any questions they have and provide relevant information.
- Use analytics. Pay more attention than ever to how customers are getting to your business website, where they’re coming from and what they’re doing while they’re there. Tweak your site as needed to drive purchasing and respond to customer needs.
Image by Flickr user Steve Snodgrass (Creative Commons)