This year, Cyber Monday was the biggest single online shopping day in history, with more than $2 billion spent. And according to this recent USA Today article, Online Holiday Shopping Stays Strong While Stores Lag, it looks as though online shopping continues to be king, while physical stores are falling behind. So, it begs the question…does anyone actually Christmas shop in stores anymore?
Personally, I have always loved the holiday shopping experience. Never particularly enjoyed the crowds or the parking, but give me a warm coffee beverage and some festive holiday tunes and I happily joined the masses. But now that I have two kids, a job and a million other things to do, I too have succumbed to the ease and stress free mode of online shopping from the comfort of my home. I have also talked to more people this year than ever who are doing most all their shopping online.
Since I am a marketing professional by trade, of course I look at this through a different lens than the average American. And I am acutely aware that email marketing is one of the biggest reasons online shopping has become so popular. This morning I had no less than 67 emails from every retailer I have ever purchased something from waiting to greet me in my inbox. They all promised FREE shipping or 40 percent off TODAY ONLY. I must admit the sense of urgency of limited availability always gets me.
I must not be the only one since Flash sales have become so popular in recent years. Sites like One Kings Lane and Zulily cause people like myself to often make impulse purchases because you only have a limited time to take advantage…and then the item is gone. Forever. But there has been a lot of talk lately about whether or not flash sales are just a flash in the pan, or if they are here to stay. According to this recent article, How Zulily Escaped the Flash-Sales Curse, some companies, are doing it right by having a narrowed focus and really working to build customer loyalty. And it doesn’t hurt that Zulily’s target is mamas, who we all know love to hunt for a bargain online.
Companies like Amazon make it so easy…with your credit card information and mailing address already programmed in, it’s only a quick click of the mouse and a new Razor scooter and a Kindle are sitting at your doorstep. And while having to pay shipping used to be the deterrent for some, now almost all retailers are offering free shipping.
So, I ask…are department store holiday window displays a thing of the past? Or are there still people out there who prefer the hustle and bustle, the brick-and-mortar, and the face-to-face communication. Less than one week left…will be interesting to see if traffic in the physical stores picks up the closer we get to the big day!