I'm Dreaming of a Green Christmas
turbotodd 100000388Y Visits (1456)
Actually, I'm not dreaming of a green Christmas, but I know many e-retailers who will be soon if they're not already.
Well, the early holiday e-shopping estimates have begun to emerge, even before shoppers have fully cranked up their browsers, and the prognostications are once again decidedly bullish.
eMarketer, which I like to use in my day job because they rely on multiple sources of data, is forecasting in its "Online Holiday Shopping Preview" that Web merchants will ring up sales worth $24.3 billion during this holiday season, a 22.1% increase over the same period (November and December) last year.
eMarketer's Q4 2006 retail e-commerce sales forecast is some $33.2 billion, accounting for nearly 31% of all 2006 online retail sales!
Online or Off, Green is Still Green
Being an emarketer myself, I also like to understand how and why folks rely on the Internet for their shopping experience.
Majestic Research discovered in a survey last December that people shop online primarily for three reasons: convenience, product selection, and price.
However, KPMG's 2005 holiday shopping study found that crowd avoidance becomes another important reason the closer Santa's big day draws near.
And the key question retailers everywhere want Santa's elves to help them answer? Where do online buyers typically start their online shopping?
Well, 50.9% of them appear to be brand-conscious shoppers who go directly to the e-retailers' Web sites. 26% of them start at a search engine or directory.
21.4% of them start at a catalog, store, or other offline site. 17.6% go through a shopping portal.
Click, Brick, and Mortar
But here's what I suspect is Santa's dirty little e-shopping secret that nobody's paying nearly enough attention to: The impact of online communication on offline retail sales.
Case in Point: I'm way down south here in Mobile, Alabama, spending the Thanksgiving holiday with family.
Digital cameraless, I decided to seek out a new digital camera to take some holiday photos.
I spent a couple of hours online, searching product manufacturer sites, consumer and professional reviews of digital cameras, and finally, BestBuy.Com, where I was able to locate the closest brick and mortar store where I went and made my purchase.
I suspect I'm not the only one, which is why more and more I believe that both brands and offline retailers must increasingly pay more attention to their online reputations.
Word of mouth is still king in Santa's workshop...we little elves like to talk, and it is often our opinions that can influence a product purchase to one brand or another.
Provide a positive brand or retail experience (online or off), and you'll make a friend who will tell all their friends.
Provide a bad experience, and they'll tell everybody.