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E-Retailers Have $68 Billion Reasons to Expect Happy Holidays

14 Nov, 2012 By: Doug McPherson

CAMBRIDGE, Mass. - The 2012 holiday season is expected to generate $68.4 billion in U.S. online sales, according to research giant Forrester. That’s a 15-percent increase over 2011′s total and 3 percent higher than the expected overall annual online retail growth rate.

Why the boost? Forrester Analyst Sucharita Mulpuru says because more consumers are choosing the Web over physical stores and the rise in mobile commerce will help buoy sales this year. The report found that the average U.S. shopper will spend $419 dollars online this holiday season, which is a 12-percent jump from last year.

Other trends in 2012: More consumers are looking for deals, and online retailers have “become synonymous with value.” Free shipping will also be a big factor this year — 57 percent of U.S. online adults shop more with retailers that offer free shipping and 27 percent add unplanned items to their carts in order to meet free shipping thresholds. Last year, 76 percent of the top 50 online retailers highlighted holiday deals on their homepages, and 50 percent called out holiday shipping promotions.

In the 2011 holiday season, the top 500 retail websites saw holiday traffic peak during Thanksgiving, Black Friday and Cyber Monday, each of which drove more than 170 million unique U.S. shoppers to the Web. This accounted for more than $2.5 billion in total online sales.

Forrester is recommending that retailers focus on making the mobile checkout process quick and easy, and engage in mobile messaging via text and E-mail. Another thing retailers should be preparing for is aggressive holiday show-rooming. That means that retailers, especially brick-and-mortar stores, need to engage consumers in stores when it comes to pricing and mobile research

And finally, retailers should engage in loyalty rewards or personalized offers to help differentiate their businesses.

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