NRF Releases its Holiday Planning Playbook 2016

NRF recently published its Holiday Planning Playbook for 2016 which includes historical sales data, consumer trends and perspectives, and investments retailers plan to make for the 2016 holiday season. Here are a few takeaways from the report.

Online & Mobile Findings

One in three (35%) consumers made more than half of their holiday purchases online this past holiday season. For six days — on weekends and as Christmas drew closer, according to Adobe — traffic from smartphones surpassed that of desktops; however, despite the heightened emphasis on mobile, online shopping via desktop still brought in the highest transaction size during Holiday 2015. Retailers will continue to try harnessing the runaway power of mobile, optimizing the experience and attempting to spread its impact across all channels.

Retailers focusing on one area must be careful to not lose ground in another. Specific to online, 84% of retailers want to see site conversion rates increase, followed by average daily site traffic (71%).

In-Store Findings

Consumers expect the same level of information to be available online and in-store. That goes beyond being able to find what they want in terms of products; comparisons, ratings and reviews should be available within bricks-and-mortar. Google reports that 42% of in-store shoppers conduct online research while in-store, and 46% are visiting the retailer’s own app or website.

Retailers find that mobile and online are increasingly considered drivers for the in-store experience. Consistent with that, a third of the retailer respondents to the 2015 Holiday version of the Omnichannel Retail Index survey offered free Wi-Fi in-store during the holidays, compared to just 26% in the summer months. Outside the walls of bricks-and-mortar, individual data collected online is helping create more personalized shopping experiences in-store.

Marketing and Promotions Findings

Free shipping was once a differentiated offer. But now, close to 60% of online transactions include it. So what do consumers respond to? Online-only sales (32%), percentage-off coupons (31%), free standard shipping without conditions (28%) and free shipping upgrades (25%) are all drivers.

Consumers know they missed out by foregoing promotions. A third of the respondents said they would have done well to take more advantage. Additionally, almost one in four (24%) visited a website they shopped on last holiday season through an email promotion.

As for retailers’ investment priorities, search engine marketing is at the top of the list for the coming season. Over nine in 10 retailers (97%) plan to use it in 2016, compared to 88% in 2015 and 75% in 2014. Digital is expected to be a large spend overall. On average, 41% of marketing budgets are dedicated to digital. In terms of promotions, the days ahead will be as much about when the offers are made as what they are for; retailers desire more careful attention to timing for greatest impact. They also desire a greater balance between bricks-and-mortar and digital.

Read the complete article here to find more insights into expectations for the 2016 holiday season and other findings from both the consumer and retailer perspectives.