The Data Digest: Black Friday - Understanding The Purchase Path Of Online Holiday Shoppers

Successfully reaching online shoppers during the critical holiday season is crucial to the Q4 success of eCommerce businesses. Forrester recently published its “US Online Holiday Retail Forecast, 2011”; it predicts strong growth despite the current economy. My colleague Sucharita Mulpuru shared in her blog that November and December alone are expected to pull in nearly $60 billion in online revenues in the US, a 15% increase over 2010 and about one-third of the overall volume of online sales for the year.

But what are the drivers for purchasing? How do consumers discover a good deal? Forrester collaborated earlier this year with the eCommerce company GSI Commerce to answer these and other questions and to create a picture of online buyers’ purchase journey in various categories during key periods of the Q4 2010 holiday season across 15 eCommerce sites.

We found in this study that search and email were the most effective tactics in driving sales, and shoppers were heavily influenced by retailers’ marketing efforts during key dates such as Cyber Monday and the Thanksgiving weekend. But in many cases, it's a combination of marketing tactics that makes people buy: More than half of US consumers purchasing products online in the soft goods category experienced two or more marketing touchpoints prior to the completion of their transaction.*

 

With the Thanksgiving weekend upon us, get ready for the email blasts. As shopping behavior centers around key dates like Black Friday and Cyber Monday, retailers will plan their marketing campaigns accordingly. These dates tend to attract more “deal hunters,” who are more open to receiving email messages and discovering deals. Of course, this is something of a chicken-and-egg situation: Because retailers go big on promotions during these key dates, consumers have started to expect these kinds of campaigns and wait to buy the products they want at a discount.

Let the holiday season begin!