What the 2015 Holiday Shopper Looks Like (and What That Means for 2016)

As the 2015 holiday shopping season approaches (Cyber Monday is only 13 days away!), consumers are already inundated with advertisements and various promotions from stores claiming to have the best deals of the year. There is conventional wisdom that marketers abide by for their holiday strategy, but it’s important to look at each year with a fresh set of eyes. We’ve talked to our customers and read countless articles about holiday buyer behaviors this year, and we’ve noticed some overwhelming trends:

1.  They are shopping on their mobile devices in their free moments during the day — not all in one weekend.

Google reported that smartphone shopping has increased by 64% in the last year, so it’s imperative that your holiday plans include a mobile strategy. They found that 61% of shoppers have already started planning their shopping well before Thanksgiving weekend (up 17% from last year), and they have a lesser sense of urgency to purchase since they aren’t confined to one weekend to shop.

What this means for 2015: If you’re still building out your holiday marketing plan, include content that makes it really easy for shoppers to quickly purchase your store’s products. Think of content you can share on social media (since it’s generally the first thing people turn to when they look at their phones) that will engage your buyers. And don’t forget to make your mobile checkout process extremely simple. Test out the experience on your phone, have a friend test it out, and then be prepared to make changes where you think people might get frustrated and abandon their cart.

Springbot Pro Tip: In addition to having a mobile-friendly checkout process, have triggered emails in place to re-engage those customers who don’t complete their order.

2.  Shoppers aren’t as likely to “buy” into the Black Friday hype — but Cyber Monday is still on track to crush it for retailers this year.

Shoppers are experiencing “Black Friday Fatigue”, and understandably so. Retailers are announcing promotions earlier and earlier every year, and shoppers are jaded by over-saturation of sales.

Couple that with stories of people being trampled at brick & mortar stores from doorbuster sales, and you’re left with a less-than-appetizing outlook on the Black Friday shopping experience. Since Cyber Monday is still a relatively new shopping holiday and can be experienced in the privacy of your own home or even at the office, customers have fewer negative associations with the day than with Black Friday.

REI made a smart move in diminishing the importance of Black Friday and closing their stores on that day to let employees spend time with family and enjoy the outdoors. While it may be obvious that their announcement has a PR/marketing undertone, and we know that they aren’t completely shutting down for Black Friday (they plan to leave their eCommerce site running during the in-store down time), it will be interesting to see if associating their brand with the rejection of Black Friday will prove to be profitable in the long run.

What this means for 2015: All of this isn’t to say that you should cancel your Black Friday promotions. It does mean that it may be a wise decision from a branding perspective to focus more on Cyber Monday, especially if you don’t have a brick & mortar site.

Springbot Pro Tip: Only run Black Friday or Cyber Monday sales if it makes sense for your bottom line. When you do run sales, let your brand’s values dictate how you engage in holidays and shopping events. Align it with your brand and make it your own (like Amazon did back in July with Amazon Prime Day).

3.  Despite being jaded by Black Friday, shoppers are still looking for a good bargain.

The National Retail Federation’s holiday report from last month predicts an increase in sales of 3.7%. In the same report, NRF President Matthew Shay said that although the American economy has improved significantly in recent years, consumers are still mindful of their spending. They’re better off financially, but they’re still conscious of finding deals.

What this means in 2015: The key this holiday season is not to discount everything in your store or to run sales all throughout the holidays. In fact, it’s quite the opposite — try running exclusive sales and discounting products for a limited time to make your customers feel as though they earned the discount.

Springbot Pro Tip: When you run a discount code, be sure that it isn’t cutting too much into your bottom line. You can do this by calculating ROI for each of your coupon codes (and — shameless plug alert — we do this automatically for you with our newest Promo Codes feature!)

The Holiday Shopper will follow you into the New Year.

Just because the holiday shopping season is over by January doesn’t mean that holiday shoppers’ buying habits are irrelevant in 2016. These same shoppers will be making purchases online in the new year, so plan your marketing strategy by:

1. Create more mobile moments. It’s highly likely that these “mobile moments” of online shopping will continue into upcoming holidays like Valentine’s Day, Mother’s Day, etc. Plan your 2016 holiday content to accommodate shoppers who are shopping at their leisure. In addition to holidays, you can foster these shopping moments by creating engaging content and optimizing your store’s mobile experience year-round.

2. Be authentic in your branding. Online shoppers are looking for brands that are transparent and authentic. This shouldn’t be a newsflash to eCommerce marketers, but the fact that consumers are disenchanted with the hype of Black Friday should influence future promotions.

3. Make your discounts count. Since shoppers are better off financially, they are able to be more selective in which deals they purchase. This means that you don’t need to discount heavily to see results, but you do need to position your sales as exclusive and limited-time only. Your discounts should be appealing to your customers without sabotaging your bottom line.