ecommerce-holiday-trends-to-watch-out-for-in-2014It’s that time of the year again, when marketers are ready to launch their holiday marketing battle plan while the rest of the world has to decide on the presents they’re going to get for their loved ones. With Thanksgiving, Black Friday, and Christmas coming up, the holidays represent a critical time of the year for many merchants. Unless they are able to optimize early and come up with a solid strategy for the holiday season, it’s very unlikely that they will manage to end the year on a high note.

For many retailers, things are as simple as upgrading their business tools. For instance, shops and outlets serve their customers better by getting hardware that can simplify tracking sales, using new inventory management software or even using new infrastructure that can accept credit cards instantly. What’s more, smart online retailers can reap similar benefits by accounting for the online e-commerce trends predicted to happen during the busiest sales season of the year.

Mobile commerce will encompass 33 percent of the total sales in the United States

According to a report from Custora as reported by Marketing Land, mobile eCommerce sales added up to $12.8 billion in the first quarter of the year. They also estimate that by the end of the year, the sum will rise to $50 billion, which is roughly $10 billion higher than in 2013. The constant increase in mobile sales over the past few years is primarily due to faster internet and superior hardware available. As more mobile device owners are starting to visit various websites in different settings, you will notice an increase in mobile eCommerce traffic and consequentially, mobile sales.

A shorter holiday season can translate into more frantic shoppers

With only 26 days between Thanksgiving and Christmas, this year’s holiday season is slightly shorter. For online retailers, this means they are needed to provide first-rate customer service and a stellar campaign to reel in the last-minute shoppers. Because customers will have a shorter window for spotting deals, online merchants only chance of turning them into paying customers is to make sure their service channels are properly staffed, even if it means their services will be available after standard business hours. At the same time, they should evaluate their shipping options and be sure to include same-day deliveries.

Black Friday and Cyber Monday are likely to get extended

Based on a ComScore report, the combined sale revenues for Black Friday and Cyber Monday in 2013 were approximately $3 billion. As more users prefer the convenience of online shopping and the associated huge discounts compared to the crowded malls and the rush that is sure to follow during the Thanksgiving period, it is estimated that sales this year will once again shatter previously set records. If it’s going to be anything like in past years, online merchants should expect an even higher influx of customers, an element that is likely to force them to extend their services throughout the entire week of Thanksgiving.

Most retailers will offer same-day delivery and free shipping

After Amazon introduced same-day delivery in 2009, it didn’t take long for numerous other large online retailers to follow. According to SGV Tribune, some companies are even willing to collaborate with various local brick and mortar retailers to ensure that delivery times are as short as within the hour in certain locations in the United States. Therefore, small online businesses will have a hard time appealing to last-minute shoppers, unless they can offer a similar benefit.

The ComScore survey also discussed how earlier in 2014, 81 percent of online shoppers consider free shipping a critical service. Therefore, if you want to keep up with industry leaders, you will have to do the math and determine whether you can supply your customers with eCommerce holiday deliveries at your own expense.

Videos will play a more critical role in generating sales

With millions of users watching thousands of hours of video clips every day, videos are, by far, one of the most powerful tools for communicating online. Based on previous experience, quite a number of merchants suggest that product videos are more likely to increase eCommerce conversion rates, and help them sell more. Therefore, in addition to the short and clever description of products, you should consider creating and including videos on your product pages this holiday season.

How can these predictions help your online business?

Considering that the holiday season is only a few weeks away, now is the perfect time to focus on making improvements for the mobile version of your website with these predictions in mind. For example, have you started uploading effective videos on your product pages and have you started using mobile POS technology tools such as the hardware offered by Shopify? In addition, it wouldn’t hurt to create variations on the promotions you intend to offer and test them while you still have time. It goes without saying that the insights you gain from testing will help you make informed decisions regarding your marketing campaign!