So, What’s Going To Be The “A” Game in Marketing for 2016 ??

With the 2015 holiday shopping season in the past, everyone finally has time to take a look at how they did for the season and for the overall year. By reviewing this information, we can determine what worked and what didn’t work for our own business – and the businesses of our competitors and big-named stores.

So what exactly did we learn from the 2015 shopping season and online retail in general?

Mobile devices are only growing in importance.
For the first time, the percentage of sales made on smartphones (16.4 percent) surpassed the sales made on tablets (14.6 percent), an increase from 9.1 percent for smartphones and 13.4 percent for tablets from 2014. Traffic on both devices also increased, but smartphones dominated shopping traffic with 40.5 percent compared to 11.9 percent on tablets.

Although these numbers are on the rise, customers still prefer to make a majority of their purchases on PCs due to their larger screens, ability to have multiple tabs open, and trusted security. And overall, devices with larger screens have better metrics in terms of conversion rates and percent of sales with desktop computers taking home 69 percent of those sales.

What this data tells us is that, if we can make purchasing through smartphones a more seamless experience, metrics for mobile devices will only continue to rise.

Screen optimization is crucial.
Due to the growing importance of smartphones for shopping, it’s also necessary to make sure your website is optimized for all screen sizes on every device. You want your customers to be fully engaged with your site to encourage them to make a purchase.

Is your site optimized for browsing and buying on all devices? If not, look at the analytics. What are your customers doing if they decide not to make a purchase on a certain device? Take that information and tweak your optimization to ensure that you will convert those customers in the future.

Trending products still sell out fast.
Remember the chaos surrounding Tickle Me Elmo? We know, that happened a while ago, but it still something that everyone remembers. Remember, everyone wants the latest and greatest gift hitting the shelves. But how can you tell what those products will be?

You should be committed to researching trends and getting insights on what will be popular for that particular season – before the season gets here. And then once you know the trending products, make sure your digital shelves are fully stocked so you will be able to fulfill the numerous orders coming your way. This works well with any companies niche. From electronic devices, to clothing, automobiles and health related gear and devices.

Also, pay special attention to your inventory reporting on marketplaces. Selling a product that you don’t have in stock is a major black mark and can even result in your account being canceled. This is one problem you do NOT want to have come back and bite you.

The holiday shopping season is expanding.
Black Friday is always a highly anticipated shopping day, but in 2015, merchants were practically offering a Black Friday week with early deals popping up online before Thanksgiving had even arrived. Keep your sales going throughout the holiday season instead of just offering deals on peak days. Be aware at all times to what your competition is doing and make sure you’re leading the way and NOT following.

And don’t overlook other key shopping days – or the idea of creating your own.

Cyber Monday takes place on the Monday after Thanksgiving with exclusive online deals.
Small Business Saturday is devoted to buying from small and local businesses.
Green Tuesday was started by Green America to promote “green shopping.”
Outdoor retailer Gander Mountain offered deals every Thursday in December for CAMO Thursday.
T-Mobile started Magenta Saturday to bring bargains on cellphones and tablets to the customer.

Online research is essential.
Whether a customer decides to make a purchase online or in a brick and mortar store, they are increasingly researching that product of choice ahead of time online. About 80 percent of consumers use the internet when making buying decisions. A growing percentage of research is done using smart-phones for comparing specials and deals while a customer is in a physical store.

That’s why it’s crucial to provide all of the information necessary for customers online and anticipate any questions they may have before making their purchase. If you don’t provide that information, they’ll most likely go somewhere else.

Free shipping is hard to beat.
Consumers love free shipping, so if you can offer it, your customers will be more likely to make a purchase. Whether you offer outright free shipping or free shipping if you spend over $25, customers would rather have that option than a greater discount on the product price. So even if you have to raise your prices a little in order to offer free shipping, do it. Free shipping is that much of a draw for customers.

The 2015 shopping season was able to teach us many important lessons that we can now plan for and implement leading up to the 2016 shopping season. In the coming months, try to incorporate something you’ve learned from 2015 into your overall online selling strategy and track how it impacts your sales.

Remember, lay your plans for the 2016 Holiday Shopping Season early. If you think you can gear up in time by starting in October, you will find yourself being left far behind.