Retailers are optimistic this year about the holidays: 86 percent report expected increases in year-over-year online holiday sales, according to a ChannelAdvisor multichannel e-commerce study.
The study, which looked at online retailers in the United States and the U.K., set out to gauge expectations for the holiday season and discover retailer strategies for maximizing holiday sales.
"The holiday shopping season is what retailers look forward to and plan for all year long," said Scot Wingo, ChannelAdvisor CEO. "Thanksgiving falls during the last week of November again this year, and Cyber Monday will be in December. This compresses the amount of time that consumers have to shop for their friends and family, and changes the game for online retailers trying to capture the wallets of as many shoppers as possible. As we suspected, our survey confirms that retailers are planning to begin their holiday promotions early and to focus on customer service features to help increase sales."
Of those surveyed, 27 percent expect anywhere from an 11 to 15 percent year-over-year increase in holiday sales. And while almost half—46 percent—expected an increase in sales between 1 and 10 percent, no retailers reported an expected decrease.
The optimism this year is reflected in a Hay Group study showing that 70 percent of retailers plan to hire staff at 2013 levels with an emphasis on bringing on even more permanent members, up to 24 percent—a 12 percent increase from last season.
Holiday promotions are starting earlier than last year with 42 percent of retailers planning to start their holiday push in September, while 20 percent plan to begin the push in August. For 23 percent of retailers, that's an earlier start than in previous years.
Some of the tactics driving sales include offering free shipping and returns, 41 percent, and stocking more quantity, 33 percent. And 27 percent of those surveyed said they would use discount offers to increase holiday sales.
Also in preparation of the holiday season, several retailers, including Staples (NASDAQ:SPLS) and Pier 1 (NYSE:PIR), are launching a buy-online, pickup in-store program.
-See this ChannelAdvisor press release
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