What the 2015 holiday shopping season says about online retail in 2016


To be honest, this past holiday shopping season was a bit all over the place. Some retailers seemed to get their calendars mixed up, with “Black Friday” deals starting way back in the summer. All jokes aside, it was a longer season than ever and many retailers got serious about promotions in October.

Online retailers didn’t do too shabby, as Custora crowned Cyber Monday 2015 the biggest online shopping day ever in the US, with a 16.2% increase in revenue over the previous year. Between Thanksgiving and Cyber Monday, online retailers broke a number of records. Those using ChannelAdvisor’s platform saw their sales increase by 20.9% during the “Cyber Five” holiday weekend, compared to the same time period last year.

Now that the holidays are well over, naturally it’s time to figure out what lessons can carry over to set up for success this year. Here are three lessons from the holiday shopping season that could make a big impact on retail in 2016.

1. Retailers That Stand Still Will Lose

Repricing is a must and Amazon’s not the only one doing it anymore. From big box competitors like Walmart to small pure play shops, both in-house and third party repricing solutions are taking the retail industry by storm. The competitive landscape is ever changing, especially online. The retailers that are able to roll with the punches are the ones that are able to blaze the trail towards their goals. Hopefully in 2016 being blindly uncompetitive will be a thing of the past.

2. Mobile Matters

It’s old news at this point, but mobile is kind of a big deal. Mobile overall accounted for 53% of online shopping traffic on Black Friday, but as usual the smaller screens failed to account for high conversion rates.

I’m a prime example of this. I was traveling on Black Friday and tapped onto Amazon on my smartphone to check out what deals were available. I also added a few routine purchases to my cart. But did I check out? I sure didn’t. Something else came up and I became an abandoned cart temporarily. Luckily Amazon is a seamless retailer, so I knew my cart would be available when I got back home and could check out on a computer. Following in the footsteps of Amazon in this case would be best for any retailer selling online. Have a continuous shopping cart and a site that is easy to browse and buy on, regardless of the channel.

3. Manufactured Demand is Real 

Thanksgiving used to be a day to eat with loved ones, maybe watch a movie, and fall into a tryptophan-induced slumber. Not anymore. Adobe found that Thanksgiving retail sales jumped 25% to $1.73 billion and as of noon on Thanksgiving, ChannelAdvisor retailer sales were up 31.2%, compared to 2014.

“Build it and they will come” usually isn’t exactly true, but it is when it comes to widely promoted sales, especially around holidays. Cyber Monday was only thought into existence a decade ago and last year’s event broke all records for eCommerce sales.

Think about it, Amazon’s inaugural Prime Day in July drew plenty of criticism for deals on odd products and ridiculously limited quantities on the things shoppers really wanted. But at the end of the day, Amazon made a ton of money, although they didn’t disclose exact figures. A press release from the eCommerce giant painted a vague picture of its success. Amazon reported that its orders were up 266% compared to the same day a year before. Even Black Friday 2014 paled in comparison, with Prime Day seeing 18% more orders placed.

So what’s a retailer to do? Now is the time to set up for success by making dynamic pricing a reality, getting up to date on your mobile experience, and creating the demand you want and need. 


Angelica Valentine
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March 21, 2016
Angelica Valentine

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