Looking to get ahead of the expected holiday “crowds,” online retailers are ramping up their efforts to attract eager shoppers with free shipping deals and other exclusive online promotions. According to Shop.org’s eHoliday survey conducted by BIGinsight, six in 10 (61.6%) online retailers will start their online holiday marketing promotions by Halloween, up from 52.9% in 2011. Thirty-eight (38.4%) will begin marketing their online promotions by mid-November or later.
Online retailers have good cause to start earlier, too: NRF’s recently-released holiday consumer spending survey found more than half (51.8%) of shoppers will shop online in the coming weeks – the highest amount in the survey’s 10-year history – and 22.1% specifically stated they would begin shopping in October, up from 20.3% last year.
“For retailers, there is no better time to shine than the holiday season, and it’s evident that online retailers are already planning to go the extra mile for their customers this year,” said Shop.org Executive Director Vicki Cantrell. “Consumers can expect even more of an integrated shopping experience this holiday season with companies also looking to enhance their mobile marketing efforts to capture the attention of the millions of holiday shoppers who are already thinking about their shopping lists.”
Quickly becoming the rule and not the exception for retailers, free shipping offers will abound. According to the survey, nine in 10 (89.7%) retailers plan to offer some form of free shipping for online shoppers. When asked which promotions they will emphasize most heavily during the holiday season, 37.5% plan to offer free standard shipping with conditions (e.g. minimum purchase), and three in 10 (30.0%) will offer free standard shipping without conditions.
In addition to free shipping offers, retailers will impress holiday shoppers with promotions that include coupons, limited-time only deals, and discounts on specific purchases. Nearly half (47.5%) said they plan to heavily emphasize promotions that offer discounts that include a specific percent off their purchase and 12.5% plan to offer coupons with select dollars off their purchase. Additionally, nearly one-third (32.5%) said they would offer limited-time only promotions.
Those looking to get a head start on their shopping lists won’t have to wait too much longer for those free shipping deals: three in 10 (30.0%) online retailers said their free shipping offers will start earlier than last year.
Many companies now offer free shipping options every day of the year. Specifically, when asked when they would launch their first free shipping deal of the holiday season, nearly one-quarter (23.1%) said they already offer free shipping year-round. Of those who don’t, 26.6% said they would launch their first free shipping promotion by Halloween, and by Thanksgiving – more than three-quarters (76.6%) of online retailers will have offered the promotion.
HALF OF HOLIDAY SHOPPERS WILL START ONLINE SHOPPING BY HALLOWEEN
With wish lists in hand and on the hunt for the best deal, half (50.1%) of consumers polled in Shop.org’s eHoliday survey said they would begin their online holiday shopping by Halloween; another 43.2% will hold out on those early promotions and start in November.
“These days the holiday season hardly ‘sneaks’ up on anyone; many people look forward to the holidays and either shop year round or contribute to their holiday savings little by little all year long,” said BIGinsight Consumer Insights Director Pam Goodfellow. “Whether to assist in sticking to a budget or to ensure they get that much-desired gift or simply because the deals are hard to pass up, consumers enjoy shopping early and it appears this might be the perfect holiday season to do just that.”
When asked why they would be more inclined to shop online this holiday season, nearly four in 10 (38.4%) shoppers said 24-hour convenience is a main reason, and more than one-third (35.0%) said they specifically choose to shop online because of free shipping. Additionally, 33.1% say they don’t care for holiday crowds in stores and 29.6% prefer the ease of being able to compare prices.[Source: "2012 eHoliday Study." BIGinsight/Shop.org, a division of the National Retail Federation (NRF). 24 Oct. 2012. Web. 24 Oct. 2012.]