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Jim Agger
 
July 18, 2014 | eCommerce , Fulfillment/Shipping, Site Design and Management | Jim Agger

It's Never Too Early to Think About the Holidays With Online Retail

While it may be the middle of summer, stores of any kind - including wineries – should already be thinking ahead to the upcoming holiday season. After all, those six weeks of the year in November and December can often be the difference between a profitable year and contracting your business. If you sell wine online, this is especially true. You'll want your Web-based presence to be as strong as possible and you need the next few months to properly plan and roll out any new site design or feature that will cater best to your customer's needs. This is why you should pay attention to current reports on online retail now.

A new revenue schedule
Consulting firm Kenshoo released a Global Online Retail Seasonal Shopping Report earlier in 2014, discussing the holiday shopping season from the year before. It provides some guidance as to what was successful during the 2013 holidays, especially in the United States. In particular, online retail revenues were strongest not in December, but Thanksgiving and Black Friday, as well as the following Cyber Monday. Those three days can determine a significant chunk of overall revenue during the season.

A recent development in the shopping season that has caused somewhat significant success is Free Shipping Day, a merchant-based program which allows customers to get free shipping on an item they want that will arrive by Christmas Eve. The Kenshoo report indicates year-over-year growth in the holiday, making it one of the highest-earning days in the holiday shopping season. While wine merchants can't directly participate due to being unable to ship wine for free, it may be a good day to sell your wine with shipping included. That way, you can get into the spirit of the day and consumers will still be drawn to your varieties.

Mobile dominates
More recently, IBM released its "Seventh Annual Online Retail Holiday Readiness" Report. The annual analysis offers a more accurate gauge of the current online retail situation over the course of a year, so as to provide merchants the means to plan ahead for the holiday season. Key among the findings is that consumer attentions have continued to decline significantly year over year, and this included the average length of a site visit and number of pages viewed. Conversely, the bounce rate - or people leaving the site after viewing a single page - has increased about 5 percent since 2011. More than ever, merchants need to create site designs that will keep customers logged in, since more time on the site increases the likelihood of it ending in a transaction.

The leading reason for the decline in attention has less to do with people's attention spans and more to do with the means that consumers actually look at their stores. Since April 2011, mobile devices have surged in site traffic share, going from less than 10 percent to about 38.2 percent. By 2015, it is very likely that mobile site traffic will cover the majority of all ecommerce site traffic. Of course sales are a little behind actual, but it is worth noting that during the 2013 holiday shopping season, mobile devices still contributed nearly a fifth of all online sales. This should make clear to any merchant that having a working and effective mobile site is practically mandatory to making revenue from online sales, especially in the coming years. In addition, wine merchants should focus on both that and regular online media. While social media can be used as a means to attract shoppers, there hasn't been many effective strategies in doing so, making bounce rates in that medium high.

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