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How e-Commerce Has Shifted Holiday Shopping

It seems that each and every day there is news about how e-commerce is changing how our world works. Leveraging the Internet and mobile technology in commerce has changed the consumer experience and, as a result, customer expectations are quite different than they were just a couple years ago. While figuring out how to make the gadgets that consumers want this holiday season, electronics OEMs and their partners need to also look at how the sales landscape has evolved.

 

For nearly half a century, the day following Thanksgiving marked the unofficial start of the Christmas shopping season in the United States.  Retailers began to open their doors a little early, offering sale pricing on merchandise to lure shoppers. Over the years, this shopping day became known as “Black Friday,” purportedly named as the day when retailers’ business move from running “in the red” to running “in the black” — in short, achieving profitably. 

As we find ourselves directly in the heart of the latest holiday season, retailers are changing up their holiday promotions. Shoppers who used to wait in line for hours at stores are beginning to give way to online deals that start earlier, continue later and rival some of the doorbuster prices that are only available before the crack of dawn on Black Friday. Surveys show that the share of consumers who anticipate shopping in-store on Black Friday are only 39.8% and 35% respectively. However, one thing is clear from all the studies: the holiday shopping period starts much earlier than the day after Thanksgiving. In fact, a National Retail Federation (NRF) study indicates 40% of internet users planned to begin holiday shopping before November 1.

Retail sales over the holiday period are sure to increase this year, but the trends for in-store and online are very different.  Projections for in-store sales look to decrease an estimated 10%, while online sales are expected to increase 14%.  This change is driven in part by trends such as the ones noted by Forbes indicating 75% of consumers between the ages of 13 and 35 intend to extend their holiday shopping period over several weeks, that 40% of online orders are place on mobile devices and 60% of in-store shoppers research products on smartphones.

So how can consumers score the best deals?

  • Check online coupons and retailers’ mobile apps. There may be some deals waiting for the savvy shopper.
  • Check product reviews, features and comparisons. Many products, especially appliances, tech and electronics, have many models with varying features. Make sure you know what you are buying.
  • Compare prices. Just because there is a great discount does not mean it is the best deal.
  • Save your short list of items to your wish list. Check back to see if prices have changed.
  • Shop online and stay out of the chaos.  A number of retailers with ecommerce website such as Best Buy are offering their Black Friday deals earlier online than in store.

Shrewd shoppers can certainly score great deals this time of year. And electronics OEMs can create opportunities by understanding this new breed of consumer. However, dealing with the bedlam at 5 a.m. is no longer required as the e-commerce evolution has changed the game. Yet for all the hoopla over Black Friday and Cyber Monday, according to RetailNext, the biggest shopping day this season will actually be December 23.

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