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5 Online Shopping Predictions For The 2017 Holiday Season

Do you hear what we hear? The holidays are right around the corner, marking a special time for family and friends—as well as an abundance of options for how, where, and when to purchase their gifts.

Last year, holiday sales for the months of November and December grew eight times faster online than in stores. Additionally, consumers used their mobile devices to shop more than ever before.

What online shopping habits will be unwrapped this year?

As part of its annual “Holiday Predictions” report, the Adobe Digital Insights (ADI) team analyzed 1 trillion visits to over 4,500 retail websites, 55 million SKUs, and 12 million social mentions. They also conducted companion survey research with 1,100 U.S. consumers. From this aggregated and anonymized data, ADI brings you the following five predictions about consumer online purchase habits this holiday season.

Prediction No. 1: The 2017 Holiday Season Will Be The First To Break $100 Billion In Online Sales
ADI predicts online holiday sales will reach $107.4 billion, which is a 13.8% increase from the same period last year. While we’re still talking double digits, revenue growth during the online holiday season has been slowing since 2015, ADI noted. That said, growth continues to outpace overall retail growth during the holidays—13.8% online vs. 3.8% overall, according to ADI.

For the survey portion of this analysis, 31% of shoppers reported that they are planning to spend more online this year than last year.

“This is a huge opportunity for retailers, who need to make sure their online experience delights customers and is able to handle the expected uplift in traffic during the November through December holiday period,” said Taylor Schreiner, principal analyst at ADI. “Consumers expect fluid experiences, and even a small hiccup could mean a lost sale.”


ADI also expects the Thanksgiving weekend to account for $19.7 billion in online sales. That represents $1 of every $6 (18%) expected to be spent online for the entire holiday season. Cyber Monday is set to remain the overall leader, with both the highest predicted revenue ($6.6 billion) and fastest growth (16.5% year-over-year)


Prediction 2: Consumers Will Be On The Hunt For A Bargain
The main reason the Thanksgiving weekend is expected to rake in so much online revenue is because consumers are looking for a good deal, according to ADI. And retailers are ready to meet that need: More than half (51%) said they plan to offer Black Friday promotions, while a third (33%) plan to offer online door-crashers or major coupons.

According to ADI, online shoppers traditionally buy more items at lower prices during the holidays. In fact, four out of five measured product categories in ADI’s analysis show higher unit growth than revenue growth, suggesting that “consumers are making more purchases of less expensive items online,” Schreiner said.


So when is the best day to get a good deal? It depends on what you’re buying. The best day to shop for Christmas decor, ADI said, will be Nov. 22, when consumers can expect to save at least 23%, on average, on purchases. Thanksgiving will be the best day to save on computers, tools, sporting goods, video game consoles, and apparel; Black Friday will be best for purchasing appliances, tablets, TVs, and jewelry; and Cyber Monday will be the best day to purchase toys. For furniture and bedding and pet products, ADI predicts Giving Tuesday will be the day with the most savings.

Prediction 3: The Majority Of Online Spend This Holiday Season Will Go To Large Retailers
According to ADI’s analysis, large retailers grew their revenues twice as fast as other retailers in the first half of 2017. In layman’s terms, “big retailers get big baskets,” Schreiner told CMO.com. To wit, large retailers grew their revenues twice as fast as other retailers in the first half of 2017. As a result, ADI predicts that large retailers will rake in the majority of online sales this holiday season. 


“It’s important to note here that small retailers have the best mobile conversion rate,” Schreiner said. “However, the ‘in-betweeners’ are in a tough spot. Their overall average conversion rates [2.4%] fall behind both large [3.2%] and small [2.7%] companies.”

Prediction 4: More Than Half Of Online Visits To Retail Sites Will Come From Mobile Devices
While desktop purchases still account for two-thirds of revenue year-round, mobile is often the starting point for many shoppers. ADI predicts that consumers will visit retailer websites from their mobile devices more than from their desktops this holiday season.

According to ADI, high-growth companies see more smartphone visits and revenue growth than below-average-growth companies year-round (23% and 32%, respectively).

“Mobile is a huge opportunity this holiday season, and the retailers that deliver the best experience are the ones that will close the deal,” Schreiner said. “The key is going to be making the mobile experience helpful to the customer, wherever they are in their shopping journey.”


Could mobile apps come to the rescue? Maybe. ADI found that 64% of shoppers already have a retail app downloaded on their mobile devices, but only 32% will download an app specifically for holiday shopping.

“The holiday season is a great time to nurture your loyalists—those shoppers who have downloaded your mobile app,” Schreiner said. “Smart retailers will engage these individuals with personalized experiences, as they’ve already expressed interest in your company by giving your app real estate on the most personal device they own.”

Prediction 5: Nostalgia Will Play A Role In Toy Purchases
Updated versions of old-school toys, such as Nerf Guns, Teddy Ruxpin, and Super Nintendo Classic, have been seeing thousands of mentions on social media (Aug. 1 to Oct. 11).


ADI predicts the top-selling video game of the season will be Super Mario’s Odyssey, which is a nod to the ’80s, when the first iteration of Super Mario Brothers (1983) was released. The first holiday season for the Nintendo Switch is driving a ton of social buzz, as well.

Speaking of which, earbuds, VR, and home assistants are dominating the consumer electronics space for social buzz, ADI found.


“A lot of the stuff that was popular in the ’80s and even early ’90s is being refreshed for today’s kids,” Schreiner said. “Nostalgia is a great way to get parents on board.”

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