48% of online retailers confident holiday will outperform

Nearly half of online retailers are "very" or "extremely" confident that holiday sales this season will outperform last year, according to a new survey by Bigcommerce.

Fourth quarter sales are critical for all retailers, but for small and mid-sized businesses, holiday sales are expected to make up a larger percentage of annual revenue in comparison to the industry average of 19 percent, according to Statista. Nearly 60 percent of retailers expect holiday sales to be more than 20 percent of annual revenues, and one-third of those business owners expect the holidays to drive more than 40 percent of total annual sales.

More than half, 56 percent, expect their online store to be the strongest performer, closely followed by marketplaces (15 percent) and brick-and-mortar stores (10 percent), according to Bigcommerce.

Roughly 75 percent of business owners who expect to hire will do so to support order fulfillment and ensure accurate, timely delivery. Approximately 17 percent of retailers have plans to hire additional employees for the holiday season, a slight increase in comparison to last year, according to the survey.

          Full holiday infographic from Bigcommerce

The focus for Holiday 2015 is clearly on internet sales. These retailers are hiring staff for online order fulfillment and are planning low-cost social media marketing promotions to grow revenue. Social media advertising will also eclipse paid search ads as more than 70 percent of the merchants surveyed said they planned to promote their business through the online communities they've built on social media channels.

Retailers are planning a variety of promotions including discounted offers and free shipping, although the latter is cause for much concern as many retailers are still unsure of how to handle higher shipping costs; many are even unaware of rate increases. Meeting the demand for free shipping will be critical for retailers—88 percent of shoppers say they want free, fast shipping this holiday season.

For more:
-See these Bigcommerce survey results
-See this Statista report

Related stories:
Holiday sales to rise between 3.5% and 4%
83% of holiday shopping to begin before Cyber Monday
Digital to influence 64 cents of every retail dollar spent in physical stores
Sales to rise 2.4% this holiday season
Cyber security affects consumer holiday spending