The holiday season is my favorite time of the year — but just not for the obvious reasons.
Along with traveling, spending time with family, and exchanging gifts, what’s really exciting about the holiday season every new one gives us at Button a fresh opportunity to validate our vision for where commerce is headed.
That vision is simple: The Internet’s future will be built on commerce, and mobile will be its engine of growth.
The holiday season is a great time to see how that future is progressing. Here are a few of the big questions we’ll be obsessing over this year.
Will more consumers do their shopping on mobile?
This is an easy one: Yes.
Everywhere you look there are signs that this will be record holiday season for mobile. When Deloitte asked consumers which devices they plan to use for their holiday shopping, 70% of shoppers them said smartphones. That’s up from 59% in 2017.
Another big number: Over 60% of people who plan to spend more than $2,100 this holiday season will do their shopping on mobile devices. In other words, not only do more consumers plan to mobile devices to make purchases, they also plan to spend more when they do. I have no doubt that these numbers will continue to grow.
These are just a few of the big trends and questions we’re tracking over the next few months. To access more research and insights — including our upcoming holiday mobile shopping trends report — sign up here.
How will retailers respond to the shorter shopping season?
While the holiday shopping season seems to be starting earlier every year, there’s a very good reason for it this time around: A late Thanksgiving means that there are just 26 days between the holiday and Christmas — six fewer than last year. That makes this the shortest holiday shopping possible.
Most consumers are completely unaware of that fact, but it’s got many retailers in a cold sweat. That’s because, in the U.S., 20% of total retail spending happens during this very short period, according to the National Retail Federation. That number is even higher for categories like video games, electronics, and toys.
We’re already seeing the impact of this shortened holiday shopping period. Walmart officially began its holiday sales on October 25, its earliest start ever. Target, recognizing that’s it’s going to need more in-store support during this shorter peak season, plans to spend $50 million on payroll this holiday season. Expect to see similar moves from other retailers over the next few weeks.
Will retailers’ expanded buy-online-pickup-in-store strategies draw shoppers away from Amazon?
Online commerce has created an existential crisis for traditional brick-and-mortar retail. Why shop at a physical store when you can go online and get anything you need delivered to your door?
The big retailers are finally offering some compelling answers to that question. There’s an increasing realization that, to survive in the era of digital commerce, they have to stop thinking of the online retail and physical retail as two distinct channels. You see this most clearly in the rise of buy-online-pickup-in-store strategies, which have taken on a strategy role at not just big box retailers like Walmart, Target, and Best Buy, but also luxury and specialty stories like Nordstrom and Hallmark.
There are already signs of life here. Among consumers, buy-online-pickup-in-store adoption increased by 47% from 2017 to 2018, according to Adobe Analytics. It’s not hard to see why: These programs appeal to consumers because, in many cases, they’re both both more convenient and faster than two-day shopping. (Try getting a big-screen television delivered when you’re not home.) That appeal is heightened further during the holiday season, where shoppers often need items faster and with more discretion.
But these retailers aren’t abandoning their dreams of matching Amazon on shipping. Both Target (via Shipt) and Best Buy have made big investments in same-day shipping. When it comes to shipping, consumers today expect options, and retailers are finally starting to deliver.