From the time of writing this, we are less than 10 weeks away from the Christmas Holiday of 2017. Hard to believe I am sitting at our office in Lancaster, Pennsylvania with weather that reminds me of Los Angeles in October. However, for the past 8-10 weeks, we have been heads down in holiday retail preparation and ensuring that our client’s strategies for the holiday are aligned to maximize return on investment. With many other CMOs and marketing leaders in the same situation, I thought it was a perfect time to highlight the 5 biggest holiday trends that we are seeing for the 2017 retail holiday.

The reduction of friction leading to device agnostic conversions

For the past 5-6 years, it has been the ‘year of mobile’ for the retail holiday season. Each year, the estimates of mobile saturation have either come up significantly short of expectations, or crushed  expectations. The unfortunate reality is that consumers do not care or even think about devices when interacting with a purchase journey. They use the device they feel is most convenient, with little regard to which device is ‘best’ for completing this purchase.

Now think about the mobile experience for a moment. Think of the steps that retailers require in the checkout experience. Billing information, Shipping information, payment information; there are generally many fields and while browsers like Chrome help populate some of these metrics, the completion of these fields is time-consuming and cumbersome, causing friction. Despite having some of the strongest thumbs of any generation, we just expect more out of our experience. Gateways like Apple Pay, Samsung Pay, PayPal, Amazon Checkout, and Google Wallet have spoiled us into enjoying a wonderful retail experience, free of form friction. The continued rate of adoption for those services by retailers has eased the purchase experience and will continue to do that in the retail holiday season. Those retailers who actually think about the mobile experience, from cart to completion, will earn a larger share and the adoption of these larger payment gateway systems may ease checkout angst.

Continued impatience with slow sites

First it was a mobile friendly experience, then an offshoot of that was responsive, then it was the app economy, now it is Google’s AMP project, but the reality is that consumers just want the online shopping experience to be faster. According to Google, 53% of mobile visits end if it takes longer than 3 seconds for a page to load. Coupled with the fact that the average webpage in the US loads in 24 seconds on mobile and we have a recipe for poor conversion rates. Slow sites prevent mobile conversions
With this fact comes a chasm in most web experiences. We have the quest for aesthetics competing against a fast, simplistic experience. Designers would prefer a beautiful design, while consumers adopted apps for their simplicity, ease of completion, and speed to access.
CMOs and digital marketing leaders should utilize resources such as Google’s PageSpeed Insights Tool, WebpageTest.org, and Pingdom.com to dig into the speed of pages within your cart (why don’t people ever check these? They are your most valuable pages) to understand what resources, third party scripts, and other elements are causing latency and work to optimize those elements before the holiday season.

The eradication of silo shopping experiences

While consumers were adopting new devices for browsing and conversion, there were clear silos being built for various experiences. According to data from Adobe, mobile tended to be the browsing medium, accounting for over 50% of browsing behavior, yet only accounting for 30% of conversions in 2016. Historically, holiday retail purchase also reached the pinnacle on Black Friday and Cyber Monday, but consumers appear to be moving away from those lighthouse days to make purchases, choosing to extend their holiday shopping behavior well before and after these flagship events. What used to be Black Friday has become what many are calling Black November.
Shopping for the holiday season can be and will be everywhere, free from a silo experience. Consumers may initiate purchase on the medium that invokes discovery, provides them the most pleasurable experience, and provides a benefit array at parody with other mediums.
Here are 3 of the 10 Digital Marketing Trends I identified as top priority for retail marketers, however, there are 7 more included in our whitepaper. The topics not covered in this post are the likes of voice, Amazon, opportunities for challenger brands, personalization, tips for premium brands, and more. With over 2500 words, the whitepaper is chock full of detailed research and thought provoking comments you can expect from Web Talent.