IBM advises UK online businesses on how to prepare for Christmas

For retailers Christmas is just around the corner. IBM has released its annual guide for how UK online businesses should prepare for the shopping season. Based on IBM Digital Analytics Benchmark, the report provides a detailed analysis of the Christmas 2013 season and includes figures for online retail leading up to March 2014. The report is available to view here:

“While online retail is undeniably growing, the average amount people are spending remains flat and the number of items they are buying per transaction is actually decreasing,” said James Lovell, Smarter Commerce retail consultant, Europe, IBM.

“What’s more, attention metrics show consumers have no patience for underwhelming retail experiences. If websites are not optimised for mobile, for example, shoppers will quickly give up trying to browse. Retailers need to understand consumer shopping ‘journeys’ – that is, gain a clear understanding of which technologies they are using, how and when they are using them and how these merge with the store.”

So what should retailers prepare for this year and how can they prepare? What are the key shopping trends and the channels retailers should be paying attention to as they gear up for Christmas and New Year 2014? Is it worth paying attention to social? The report reveals:

  • Online retail spending rose 11.8% in the last quarter of 2013. Over the same Christmas shopping season, CyberMonday (2 December) and Black Friday (29 November) emerged as strong buying days in the UK, mirroring the US trend for key shopping days before Christmas
  • Despite Android having a majority of the UK mobile market, sales via Apple devices are higher (sales via iPads and iPhones accounted for 26.9% of site sales in March 2014). As mobile grows, retailers need to pay close attention to how their websites perform on different devices
  • Social channels remain a low source of traffic, with just 0.5% of visitors arriving from Facebook, Pinterest, YouTube and other social channels in March 2014, and accounting for 0.1% of sales