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4 Surprising Holiday Shopping & Online Retail Trends in 2014

4 Surprising Holiday Shopping & Online Retail Trends in 2014

It’s common knowledge that all shapes and forms of shopping go into complete overdrive during the holiday season. Have you ever pulled back the layers and examined what makes the retail juggernaut tick? Prepare to impress your coworkers with knowledge; we’ll cover crucial holiday shopping trends in 2014. Black Friday, Cyber Monday, constant promotions, extended business hours, the opportunities for case studies are endless. It’s truly a marketer’s very own Winter Wonderland. That said, your holiday strategy shouldn’t begin and end at beefed up budgets and creative promotions. As technology and the retail industry evolve, so do consumer behavior and tendencies.

Check out some of our favorite online retail trends in the 2014 holiday season (source) below and our tips for using them to take your holiday strategy to the next level.

One third of shopping searches on Google happen between 10 p.m. and 4 a.m.

Wow. More than 30% of shopping-related queries are happening during a time which we consider most of the world to be asleep. I know one thing for sure; I am not doing my shopping during the wee hours of the morning, and maybe you won’t either. But just because you will be sleeping doesn’t mean that your marketing dollars have to be.

Throughout the rest of the year, you may have found that this time segment wasn’t a lucrative use of your paid search budget, so you have chosen not to run ads during these times. That is completely fair. Our digital marketing team often plans strategy adjustments in advance to account for this. For many, this time range may not make sense because a lack of phone coverage, store hours, or general conversion rate. However, now is a great time to see how this segment changes for the holiday season and how it can impact your business. Here are a few tips and tricks to maximize your digital strategy:

  • Increased Search Volume Testing: Take advantage of the influx of interest and queries to test which terms and phrases convert well for you during this time period. Remember, you’ll want to bid on search queries that relate to different phases of the purchase cycle. You may end up finding that late night shoppers are mainly interested in narrowing down their options or comparison shopping. You’ll want to be sure to adjust your bidding strategy accordingly.
  • Beware the Last Click Attribution Model: It’s long been known that measuring campaigns based on last click conversions alone can be dangerous. Be sure that you are measuring the full value of the campaigns through an Assisted, Linear or another attribution model which will more accurately reflect the way your users are shopping online.
  • Be Patient: Keep in mind that holiday purchases can be very personal. Many consumers spend days on end shopping and researching to get the perfect gift for their loved one. Your night time searchers may be just information gathering or getting an idea of gift they will want to run by their spouse at another time. Don’t pull the time slot if you don’t see conversions right away. Give your consumers time to make their decisions before you make yours.
  • Remarketing Lists: Once again, your late night shoppers may not be ready to convert during a 2 a.m. search frenzy, but that doesn’t mean you’ve missed your chance. Be sure to generate remarketing lists on these shoppers and get back in front of them with compelling promotional creative during the rest of their online journey.

One-third of shoppers consult their phones rather than staff while shopping in-store

Among holiday shopping trends in 2014, this one is no huge surprise. During the holidays, more stores experience a much higher level of foot traffic. Not only can it be difficult to get a staffer’s attention, but answers are limited by the staffer’s knowledge or experience. Pair that with the fact that many stores hire inexperienced temps just to get through the holiday rush, and it makes sense why a shopper would choose to turn to their smartphone instead. With a simple search query, consumers have access to product reviews, comparative pricing, and competitive promotions. So, what do you do?

  • Preempt the Search: Don’t get us wrong, we are huge fans of search. We live and breathe search. But once you have a warm body in your store, the last place you want them going is the search engine. Our advice is to reduce the need for the search in the first place. Think about what it is your shoppers might be asking, and give them the answer in the store.

For example, if I were shopping for a Fitness tracker and face to face with Fitbit at Target, I might wonder if Target had the best price on Fitbits or if another fitness tracker may better suit my needs. Rather than allowing me to wonder these things and look for the answer online, a great use of point of sale (POS) materials would be comparison charts with the answers right there for me.

  • Be Present in the SERP: In the crowded holiday shopping environment, even the most compelling POS won’t prevent all in-store searches. Be prepared for users to take to their phones by bidding high on likely in-store search queries on mobile devices during store hours. Additionally, be sure your mobile site is user-friendly and optimized for such terms.

Black Friday lasts all month long

A more recent development in online retail trends in 2014: Holiday promotions have taken a lesson from the tortoise and the hare. What used to be a one day, all or nothing, mad dash has become a slower, more thoughtful animal. From Thanksgiving until Christmas marketers are adapting to consumer tendencies and strategically releasing promotions based on behavior. Our thoughts? Go with day-parting insights from Google. The calendar below from Google shows which days of the month are heaviest and in what form of shopping. Study consumer trends and be sure that your holiday promotions:

  • Are in sync with consumer/marketing trends
  • Are promoted with ample time
  • Are promoted thoroughly across channels


December 23rd is the peak search day for Mom gifts

This is not marketing related. This is just me begging you to not wait this long to buy your mother a Christmas gift. That’s just straight up ridiculous.


Wrap Up

There you have it, the best of holiday shopping and online retail trends in 2014! Do you have a favorite tactic? Did we miss anything? Let us know in the comments. Sharing is caring; pass this post along to your friends first and have a wonderful Holiday season!

Forthea’s mission is dedicated to helping clients achieve their full potential online through superior marketing that’s delivered with unsurpassed customer service and professionalism.


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