Aggressive promotional strategies have been paying off particularly well for internet retailers so far this holiday season, with almost 60% experiencing sales growth of 30% or more around Thanksgiving, according to a study from Shop.org/BizRate.
Following the predicted "Cyber Monday" sales rush, online retailers have been reaping the benefits of aggressive, early promotions, the 2005 Shop.org/BizRate Research eHoliday Mood Study found.
With the holiday season now well underway, 58% of online retailers are reporting year-over-year holiday sales increases of 30% or higher. The proportion of online retailers feeling "very optimistic" following Cyber Monday and the Thanksgiving weekend increased to 31% compared to 24% in late September 2005. More than three-quarters (76%) of online retailers say they are feeling "very optimistic" or "somewhat optimistic" about the holiday season in general.
Retailers are using a variety of marketing, promotions and site tools to drive holiday sales. The most popular marketing initiatives have been direct e-mail promotions (92.4%), paid search engine marketing (71.4%), natural search engine marketing (53.3%) and affiliate/loyalty programmes (40.1%).
Free shipping with conditions reigns as the most successful promotion in retailers' toolbox, with 62% citing it as being most successful in driving holiday sales. As for the best site tools, retailers are having the most success with gift idea centres (52%), suggested items (39%) and featured sale item pages (32%).
These promotional initiatives are having the desired effect on internet bargain hunters, as 30.3% of consumers surveyed reported that they started their online holiday shopping earlier than last year.
Scott Silverman, executive director for Shop.org, explained: "Effective marketing vehicles, desirable promotions, and site features that help shoppers find the best gift seem to be the right combination for a great holiday for online retailers."
Beyond promotions, the top reason why shoppers chose to shop online was avoiding crowds (73.4%). Convenience (66.6%), avoiding lines (59.0%), easy ease to of finding items (51.6%), price comparisons (51.1%), and product comparisons (44.5%) are the other big attractions for consumers.
Online shoppers are responding well to retailers' continued efforts to improve the online shopping experience. This year, 96.2% of consumers were satisfied with their online holiday purchases through Thanksgiving weekend, compared to 95.0% in 2004.
According to Chuck Davis, chairman for Shopzilla, "Multi-channel retailers are making sure that consumers are able to shop as late as possible, from work or home, day or night, whenever or wherever they want to shop without the crowds."
The survey of 3,730 online buyers (defined as anyone who has made an online purchase in the last twelve months) and 113 online retailers, all members of Shop.org, was conducted on 29th and 30th November 2005. The study was conducted by BizRate Research (a division of Shopzilla Inc).
For additional information:
· Visit Shop.org at http://www.shop.org
· Visit Shopzilla at http://www.shopzilla.com