Retail Red Alert: Many Internet Retailers Remain Unprepared for Mobile/Social-Heavy Holiday Shopping Season

holiday shopping word cloudThough marketing and mobile sales are top of mind for Internet retailers, too many are still unprepared for the impending holiday season—and 38 percent say they have not yet begun preparing for it, according to new research from Internet services firm j2 Global’s email marketing brand Campaigner. The firm this week announced the results of its 2015 Internet retail holiday trends survey, detailing key industry insights on the upcoming holiday season and marketing strategies.

“It’s shocking to learn that such a high number of Internet retailers have not yet begun executing holiday strategies for this year,” said Seamas Egan, manager of revenue operations for Campaigner, in a news release. “Black Friday is just a couple of months away, and for most retailers, the holiday season is ripe with revenue if they prepare adequately.”

For those already executing their holiday strategy, more than half have finalized developing holiday content and promotions for marketing purposes. The next initiative most prioritized by Internet retailers is launching a mobile responsive website (at 28 percent) to prepare for increased mobile users as 70 percent believe their mobile sales this holiday will supersede last year. In fact, 13 percent expect mobile sales this year will spike significantly, between 50 and 100 percent, compared to 2014.

Given this sentiment, it is unsurprising that almost half of respondents are enhancing their brand’s mobile responsive design (48 percent). However, 31 percent say they are doing nothing this season to improve the mobile experience for their users.

A Spotlight on Social

Hand-in-hand with mobile tactics, Internet retailers will be emphasizing social media in their 2015 holiday strategies, though the increasingly popular buy button hasn’t yet infiltrated marketing strategies for most.

According to the survey, the No. 1 add-on for email marketing is a social component (i.e. Facebook or Twitter integrations), with 71 percent of respondents saying it was the most important for success. Additionally, nearly half (49 percent) are prioritizing social sharing this year in an effort to increase email marketing effectiveness for the upcoming holiday season.

The majority of Internet retailers (59 percent) are not yet implementing any type of direct-buy buttons. Yet, of those that are, two-thirds are doing so via email. Over half (54 percent) are offering buy buttons via Facebook, followed by Google (17 percent).

Content Change-Up

The survey also found that more than two thirds (69 percent) of Internet retailers are approaching their content strategy differently this season. Coming in neck-and-neck for top content strategies were a focus on informational content at 28 percent, and promotional content at 26 percent.

Twenty-two percent of respondents plan to incorporate more video content, while 16 percent are taking a more simplified approach.

“A well-tuned content strategy is more vital than ever, given the rise of channels and a content overload for many consumers,” said E.J. McGowan, general manager for Campaigner, in the release. “I think these results underscore a necessary shift in content marketing strategy; perhaps the less-is-more approach will prove valuable for busy consumers who have limited time to read through content.”

Additional insights from the survey:

  • Santa’s sleigh could prove valuable for worried respondents: The biggest concern for Internet retailers heading into the holidays is shipping costs and expectations (58 percent), followed closely by competitors’ promotions and pricing wars (57 percent) and shopping cart abandonment (54 percent).
  • Email reins as ROI king: Coming in as the top strategy for providing return on investment to respondents’ brands, email marketing remains king (59 percent) followed by word-of-mouth (46 percent).
  • The rise of the global economy: Over half (53 percent) of Internet retailers see a rise of non-U.S. customers shopping on their sites. Of these respondents, 48 percent are seeing a 5-10 percent increase of non-domestic customers.

The online Campaigner Survey was conducted by Campaigner August 11 through 19, 2015. The survey sampled 198 of the top Internet retailers, according to lists by Internet Retailer and Email Direct. The average margin of error is +/- 6.93%.

Source: Business Wire; edited by Richard Carufel

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