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A Look Forward to Holiday 2012

In early November, comScore released their findings on the upcoming 2012 Holiday season in a report called The State of the U.S. Online Retail Economy in Q3 2012. The study included a panel of 2 million global internet users, measuring online buying, attitudes and sentiment, site visitation, demographic segments and mobile and tablet e-commerce usage. According to comScore, retail e-commerce spending for 2012 will top $289 billion, a 13% increase over 2011. Retail e-commerce refers to worldwide buying on U.S. websites, excluding travel, auto and auctions.

While consumers are still weary and cautious about the economy due to increasing prices in all categories and high unemployment rates, holiday spending is expected to be strong, with a forecasted growth of 15-18% over 2011. The key drivers behind the growth are attributed to several factors, including two extra shopping days between Thanksgiving and Christmas and what comScore calls the Four S’s – Social Commerce, Smartphones, Showrooming and Sit-Back Shopping.

Social Commerce, a term coined by Yahoo in 2005, is the use of social media to assist online buying and selling of products and services. One site leading the way in social commerce is Pinterest. Although the company isn’t making money, it has helped retailers connect with their consumers with their “pinning” technology, which allows consumers to find and share ideas with their family and friends. Other social media sites include Fancy, SVPPLY and Facebook, which have recently entered the world of “pinning”.

The purchase of Smartphones will get a bump this holiday season with the recent introductions of the Apple iPhone 5 and the Samsung Galaxy SIII. With the increased sale of smartphones comes increased usage in areas such as visits to retailer websites (+65%), e-payments (+67%), credit cards (+59%), and auction sites (+46%) vs. the same period last year (Q3 2011).

Sit-Back Shopping is shopping on a mobile device (smartphone or tablet). According to the study, “1 in 10 retail e-commerce dollars are now spent via mobile phone.” Top categories that are purchased via mobile device are apparel and accessories, books, tickets, daily deals and consumer electronics.

Showrooming is “visiting a brick-and-mortar store to see a product instead of purchasing the product online. Shoppers may intend from the start to purchase the product online, or they may decide to purchase online rather than in person after viewing the item at the store.” Showrooming is utilized for big-ticket items like jewelry and electronics to find the best price, which sometimes is found online only.

The mobile phenomenon is transforming the way companies connect with and make money from consumers. This holiday season will revolve around mobile devices, with the purchase of smartphones, increased activity in social media platforms, showrooming and sit-back shopping. This is an excellent time for CPGs and retailers to pay special attention to this media shift and increase promotional efforts both online and mobile this holiday season.

  1. ComScore. (November 2012). State of the U.S. Online Retail Economy in Q3 2012.
  2. Boorstin, Julia. (19 Nov, 2012). Retailers are hoping for a Pinterest holiday.

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