B-t-s Results Reveal Insights Into Upcoming Holiday Sales

A recent report by ContentSquare illustrated the state of the market for this year’s back-to-school season — here’s what the findings might mean for holiday.

Move over, backpacks and lunch boxes. Holiday shopping is just around the corner. Jonathan Cherki, founder and chief executive officer of user experience optimization platform ContentSquare, explained what this year’s back-to-school results (see the company’s recent report on the season here) suggest might be in store this holidayseason.

The ceo explained that based on the firm’s data from last year, people spend 43 percent more money during the holidays as compared to the rest of the year (for comparison back-to-school is 18 percent more than the rest of the year). And according to Cherki that’s not where the differences between the two biggest shopping seasons of the year stop. During the holidays, shopping stops when the sales end. For back-to-school, customers continue buying long after the sales are over. On top of that, holiday shopping is more emotionally driven throughout, he said.

Still — what ContentSquare’s report gleaned about the b-t-s season shed insight on the current state of the market. Based on its findings, Cherki provided retailers with tips on how they can best navigate through holiday.

WWD: Where do you think the major differences will lie this year between b-t-s and holiday shopping?

Jonathan Cherki: A major difference is that while back-to-school shoppers are purchasing for themselves or their children, holiday shoppers are usually purchasing for other people as gifts. This will create behavioral differences in time spent on each page and amount of category and product pages viewed before purchasing.

It will be interesting to compare where people prospect or research more, although my prediction is that, since motivation and engagement are higher when purchasing for oneself, during the holiday season we will see more page visits needed before converting and less activity on each page. This is something businesses should keep in mind when creating these pages, making sure that there are plenty of additional suggested products offered on individual product pages.

WWD: ContentSquare’s to-do checklists in its report provided some great tips for retailers tackling b-t-s sales. What tips might you add for holiday?

J.C.: The main tip is to listen digitally to your customers and really understand them, learn what their will and intent is, and react to them quickly and attentively. If you see that your customers want to purchase via mobile, make it easy for them. If they want to browse, make sure you are showing them a variety of products in the category they are interested in.

For example, if you target Generation Z shoppers you will find this holiday season to be very interesting, given that they have reached shopping age and are becoming critical players in online shopping. I would recommend that retailers focus on this generation of digital natives because its behavior and demands are quite different than the generations before.

We created a guide to attract and engage them that will be very relevant for the holidays, and one of the main takeaways is to connect with their craving for authenticity with an immersive shopping experience. They are looking for digital experiences beyond the ordinary, while at the same time simplified customer journeys that feel completely seamless. One tip would be to shorten checkout procedures to as few screens and clicks as possible. I assure that this will pay off — if you get it right, they convert twice as much as the rest of the population.

WWD: What else should retailers and brands keep in mind as they begin getting ready for the holiday season?

J.C.: One of the most important things retailers need to focus on is creating a simple, clear and engaging mobile-first digital experience. Traffic on mobile is growing exponentially but mobile conversions are not. This means that while people prospect on mobile, they still go to desktop to convert. This is because, while mobile is the device of choice for shoppers, many retailers still do not offer the correct experience on mobile, which makes it hard to check out and complete a purchase.

Another important thing to keep in mind is that most people prefer to shop ahead of time and do not leave many items for last-minute shopping. Retailers should begin campaigns as early as November, making sure to suggest relevant content for shoppers.

WWD: What is the most challenging part of holiday sales, and how might retailers combat this?