Tips, Stats for Ecommerce Holiday Season

Much to most of our chagrin, retailers are already stocking the shelves with holiday décor. Although we haven't hit October, brick-and-mortar stores are doing what they can to pinch more out of the holiday season. Ecommerce sites can do the same.

To do so, it's not only important to understand which products are most likely to be purchased online, but to also understand the current international online purchasing picture, for companies entertaining the idea of expansion. Pitney Bowes, a provider of business communication software, mailing systems and services, surveyed 4,000 consumers (in France, Germany, the U.K. and the U.S.) asking just that. Books, clothes, magazines, shoes and electronics hold the top-five slots globally, while health supplements, pet supplies, gardening products, Do-It-Yourself products and crafts ranked last of the preferred items for online purchase. The survey also looked at what these consumers purchased in the last year. Magazines counted for 55 percent, of the group's online purchases, books 52 percent, clothes 51 percent and so on. 

It's also important to note that the report, Consumer Trends in Online Shopping and Shipping, found that online purchases of every type of product are on the rise in the last 12 months. According to Goldman Sachs, ecommerce sales are predicted to reach $963 billion globally by 2013, with an annual growth rate of 19.4 percent. 

"Consumers continue to delight in having clothes and electronics arrive at their doorstep," said Craig Reed, Vice President Global Ecommerce, Pitney Bowes.  "Cross border ecommerce shopping and shipping solutions are expanding retail's reach this year. It is critical to create a predictable seamless experience for each consumer from the online shopping cart to the moment they open the package at home."

Additionally, the company offers the following tips for the ecommerce holiday season:

  1. For the consumer in any country, the shopping cart experience must be seamless. Ecommerce solutions now automatically calculate cross-border fees, end-to-end shipping and local taxes. They also filter out products that are prohibited from being sold in certain locales by import and export regulations. 
  2. Use a multi-channel approach for holiday campaigns. Direct mail, call centers, websites, live chat, texts, social media and email should all be leveraging the same customer data and communicating in a similar tone. 
  3. Pace your communications for a two-way conversation to build customer loyalty. Timing and acknowledging previous touch points build intimacy. 
  4. Make returns and customer service easy. Consumers will remember and return. 
  5. Measure your cross-border success as new technology solutions contribute to the emergence of this revenue-generating trend.