Are You Ready for the 2013 eCommerce Holiday Season?

by Sarah Smith | eCommerce, eCommerce Fulfillment, Free Shipping



It’s August – are you ready for the 2013 eCommerce holiday season?

As the summer days wind down, retailers prepare for what is typically the busiest season of the year.   Some retailers can double or triple their volume during the last quarter of the year due to all the seasonal promotions.   What are some key considerations for eCommerce retailers as we head into the end of 2013?

Continued growth of e-commerce:  eCommerce continues to outpace total retail sales which is a trend we expect to see continue as we move into the holiday season.  Consider some of the numbers:

  • Forrester research predicted  that overall that e-commerce sales will reach $262 Billion by the end of 2103.
  • Comscore research found that, in 2012, eCommerce holiday spend totaled $42.3 Billion which was an increase of 14% since 2011 ($37.2 Billion).
  • Recent research from the eTailing Group Inc. suggests that 60% of retailers expect 2013 holiday revenue growth to be more than 10%.

Importance of mobile:  Use of mobile devices continues to have a large influence on consumers (even if they are just researching options rather than making purchases) so it is important that websites are optimized for mobile use.  If your site is not, then your competitor will happily oblige.   Many retailers are expecting that mobile will be a significant portion of their holiday revenue.

  • A recent survey by found that over half of retailers surveyed feel that a mobile optimized website is one of their most important investments this year.
  • Data from Branding Brand found that 33% of eCommerce traffic in holiday of 2012 was mobile (either smartphone or tablet).

Free shipping offers are expected:  Free shipping options in eCommerce continue to be important to consumers throughout the year, but at holiday time, the expectation of free shipping could be that much more an incentive to shop.   Having clear guidelines as to when free shipping is offered and if there are minimum purchased to qualify can potentially reduce abandonment rates and increase customer loyalty.

  • According to, more than 80% of consumers say that free shipping is either important or very important when shopping online.
  • Comscore found that 70% of online shoppers have added items to their shopping cart to qualify for free shipping.
  • Online spending on “Free Shipping Day” on December 17, 2012 increased 76% to just over $1 billion since 2011.

Inventory availability and fulfillment operations are the last mile: Making sure that you have inventory in stock to support the increased holiday volume is mandatory.   Understand seasonal trends from previous years and adjust forecasts accordingly.  Plan for possible delays from suppliers.

  • Offering  inventory visibility on your website can help consumers understand when there is risk of sell-out and encourage them not to wait.
  • Make sure your fulfillment operations are prepared to handle the increased volume.   Having seasonal staff in place or working with an outsourced fulfillment provider that is experienced in eCommerce can make or break holiday deliveries.
  • Understand how speed of delivery can impact buying decisions.   If you make the promise to deliver a holiday item on a certain date, make sure it arrives when you say it will.  According to Comscore, 42% of online shoppers will abandon a shopping cart because of delivery date.
  • Offering expedited shipping options can increase the chances of a sale.

While the holiday season can be daunting, with good preparation and insights into consumer expectations, it can be the most wonderful and profitable time of the year!

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