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e-Tailers Expect Big Holiday Gains: NRF

11/07/2011 12:01:00 AM Eastern

WASHINGTON – Nearly seven in 10 online retailers
expect their holiday sales to grow at least 15 percent
or more this year, a new Shop.org survey shows.

To generate those gains, more e-tailers (92.5 percent)
will provide free shipping on holiday purchases, up from
84.8 percent last year; nearly a third plan to launch the
offers earlier in the season, and more than half said they
have significantly invested in mobile-optimized websites.

The data come courtesy of a new e-tailer and consumer
poll by Shop.org, the online arm of the National
Retail Federation (NRF), and BIGresearch.

E-tailers’ seasonal optimism is supported by NRF’s
own findings that the average shopper plans to do
about 36 percent of their holiday shopping online, up
from 32.7 percent last year.

“There’s no question consumers are eager to hit
the web this holiday season, and online retailers are
prepping by optimizing their sites, beginning their marketing
and promotions early, and planning plenty of
free shipping promotions as they aim to provide value
and convenience for their shoppers,” said Shop.org
research chief Fiona Swerdlow. “Online retailers will
also leverage their social media and mobile platforms
for savvy shoppers on the go, knowing how important
customer reviews and comparison shopping applications
are to holiday shoppers.”

The survey found that more than half of e-tailers
(52.9 percent) plan to start their online holiday marketing
and promotions by Halloween, up from the 40
percent last year, while 37.2 percent said they will
begin marketing by mid-November. Additionally, 56.3
percent said their budget for free shipping promotions
is somewhat or significantly higher than last year.

More than half (51 percent) of online merchants have
also significantly invested in mobile-optimized websites,
the survey showed, and 19.6 percent have invested in
tablet apps. Additionally, 35.3 percent said they have
significantly invested in QR codes in offline advertising,
and of those who regularly use social-media platforms,
nearly three-quarters said they have already invested
in their Facebook (72.5 percent) and Twitter (41.2 percent)
accounts in advance of the holidays.

Conversely, the survey found that nearly three in 10
(29.2 percent) of shoppers will check out a company’s
Facebook page for more information, while about twothirds
(65.1 percent) will read customer reviews on the
company’s website.

“Consumers today are far from one-track minded
when it comes to finding holiday gifts,” said Pam Goodfellow,
consumer insights director at BIGresearch.
“These days, most people want to shop around all
season long, using their smartphones to scan items in
stores and compare prices, retailers’ websites to find
store locations to scope out gift ideas, and tablets or
laptops to shop from the convenience of their home.”

When asked why they plan to spend more online
this holiday season, four in 10 shoppers (43.2 percent)
said 24-hour convenience is a main consideration,
while 36.3 percent said they will spend more online
this year if shipping is free.

Other reasons include respondents’ lack of desire to
fight crowds in the stores (37.2 percent) and the ease
of prices comparisons (29.6 percent).

The ninth annual eHoliday Study was conducted for
Shop.org by BIGresearch, which surveyed 51 e-tailers
and 1,685 consumers in September and early October.