IBM advises retailers on preparing for a successful 2013 Christmas trading period

Online retail sales have continued to surge impressively, especially during the peak Christmas season, according to IBM’s new Christmas Readiness report.

It found mobile devices are powering an ever-greater share of sales and playing a greater role in buying decisions, and gains have continued into 2013, with 23.5% of March (2013) sales being achieved over smartphones and tablets.

But mobile is a double-edged sword – increasing use of mobile devices has contributed to a record-low time on site and page views per session, researchers found. And retailers that don’t offer a rewarding mobile experience stand to lose more than just a single visit.

IBM’s latest report also reveals:

  • People are spending less and buying fewer items with each order – despite overall growth in UK ecommerce, average order value (AOV) and items per order both slumped to new three-year lows
  • Consumer attention continues to decline – consumers are more likely than ever to “bounce” after viewing a single page, and they’re spending less time on site and viewing fewer pages
  • Browsing without buying – retailers don’t appear to be making much progress in efforts to increase sales from site visits and combat high shopping cart abandonment rates

The report also offers key insight into how retailers can best begin preparing for a successful 2013 Christmas period with the following tips:

  • How to deliver a superior mobile experience – after a slow start, about three-quarters of marketers intended to have mobile websites and apps in place in 2013. If retailers are not investing in mobile marketing, they risk losing business
  • How to retarget browsers and cart abandoners – as shopping cart abandonment rates rise, retargeting is a proven technique to recapture lost business
  • How to accurately measure channel performance – leading marketers are evolving beyond first- and last-click measures to generate a holistic view of how multiple campaigns and channel interactions influence conversion. Impression attribution technology enables them to account for the role of unclicked assets (called impressions) such as social media presence, in the performance of marketing initiatives
  • How to optimise digital marketing – reliance on disparate tools and siloed marketing teams can undermine performance through inconsistent communications and lack of visibility
  • How to progress toward interactive cross-channel marketing – to reap the opportunity, marketers require a cost-effective method for integrating digital analytics data into cross-channel marketing. While leading businesses have been paving the way, too many marketers don’t take advantage of digital interaction data in their marketing data efforts

Chris Withers, head of smarter commerce, IBM, and Malcolm Pinkerton, research director, Planet Retail, discuss the report findings in these video clips: