EcommerceBytes-NewsFlash, Number 3145 - September 04, 2013     3 of 4

Google Suggests It's Time to Greet Early Holiday Shoppers

By David A. Utter

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For a great number of retailers, the holiday shopping season represents a major chunk of their annual revenue. The National Retail Federation says holiday sales may mean as much as 40 percent of a retailer's annual revenue.

A Google Consumer Survey in July found nearly every demographic of shoppers (save boomers and seniors age 55+) plan to do more online purchasing for the holidays this year. Online retailers also need to consider that the traditional holiday shopping season will be about a week shorter this year, with Thanksgiving coming very late in November on the 28th.

Shoppers have demonstrated they will start earlier in the year to find good deals for their holiday shopping. Google says it's time to start preparing for these valuable early bird buyers.

It may be a good moment to begin letting site visitors know what an online seller has to offer holiday shoppers. This early in the season, people are looking for information and doing research on brands and products. If one isn't reaching out to consumers with marketing now, a competitor may be doing so; Google said six out of ten retailers last year began holiday advertising before Halloween.

Gift givers in 2012 were very price conscious. A quarter of them bought holiday gifts last year from retailers where they hadn't shopped before, as they looked for items they don't typically buy. Pricing followed by selection were the reasons for shopping somewhere new.

Fortunately, Google found that once those consumers became customers, they became much more valuable to retailers. They provide word of mouth recommendations to others about a brand more than a third of the time, and over half the time become repeat purchasers themselves.

Regarding the habits of shoppers and their prized mobile devices like smartphones, Google found people use these as shopping companions. The three biggest days for queries done through mobiles last year were Black Friday, Thanksgiving, and the day after Christmas.

Of particular interest for those mobile queries: searches for the phrase "free shipping" peaked on Black Friday. Shoppers evidently were finding items they liked in-store and searching for better deals online, with free shipping as a major criteria.

About the author:

David A. Utter is a freelance writer based in Lexington, KY. He has covered technology topics from search to security to online business and has been quoted in places like ZDNet and BusinessWeek. He considers his appearance on NPR's "All Things Considered" with long-time host Robert Siegel a delightful highlight. Send your tips to and find him on Twitter @davidautter and on LinkedIn.

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