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Market Watch – Analysing the big winners of the festive shopping period

The year-end period is always a vital period for retailers, with practically all of the major players breaking out everything they have to attract the lucrative Christmas shopping market. Now that the dust has settled, let’s take a look at some of the big winners from November-December 2012, and what important lessons lie behind the stats.

Online sales for John Lewis have increased 44%

During December John Lewis reported a 13% increase in sales, which sounds impressive enough, until you compare it to their online sales which increased by a huge 44% YoY. Online sales for the retailer now account for 25% of its total sales and have exceeded more the £800m for 2012.

So, how did they achieve such a feat?

They made a point of targeting high value and searched for items, making products such as e-readers and iPads a PPC priority.

They also have a streamlined and simplified the checkout process in their online store, thus minimising leakage.

Delivery fees are also stated on product pages with free delivery over £50, thus reducing cart abandonments due to unexpected shipping costs.

As with many retailers they offer a click and collect in store service. Research has shown that 80% of UK consumers have used this type of service, with up to 20% using it at least once a month.This shows that rather than being the enemy of high street shopping, e-commerce can in some cases provide a mutually beneficial boost where stores have a strong presence in both areas.

Amazon increases sales by 40%

Sales during the festive period from 3rd party merchants rose 40% YoY. On their busiest day Amazon reported that over 26 million items were ordered worldwide and 15.6 milllion items were shipped. This all helped contribute to a record breaking festive period for the online giant.

Having a large Ecommerce platform is great but unless the infrastructure is in place to ensure that orders are fulfilled and dispatched on time then even the biggest online presence will not help. Therefore  it comes as no surprise to learn that Amazon regularly tops the charts when it comes to customer service polls. They are also one of the leading proponents in conversion optimisation, conducting 1,000s of tests every year.

Once again, Amazon prove that great prices, an extensive range and a simple shopping experience is the recipe for amazing sales.

Next another success with 11% increase in sales

Next has let it be known that its sales from the start of November to Christmas Eve have increased by 4%, this was driven by a respectable 11% increase in online sales YoY by the fashion retailer. They also expect pre-tax profits to grow 7% YoY, which is welcome news for any high street store in the current climate.

Next has achieved these figures by investing in their online presence and making sure that it is as rewarding for the user as possible. They also offering next day delivery for orders placed before 9pm and free delivery to store, making them an attractive and convenient high street merchant.

Best of the rest

App downloads up 65%

Smartphone owners downloaded a record 1.8 billion apps between the 25th and 31st December. Compared to the 2011 festive period we saw a 65% increase YoY. There were also an estimated 50 million iOS and Android devices activated after Christmas.

The upward trend in mobile usage will continue, making it increasingly vital to have a mobile optimised web experience. Those companies that are slow to adapt to the changing retail environment face being left in the cold.

Boxing Day sets UK Ecommerce records

Nearly 200 million visits from the UK were made to online retail sites on Christmas Day and Eve, a huge 80% increase YoY. Boxing Day however stole the show with a record breaking 113m visits to online retails sites and increase of 17% YoY.

These increases are in line with the increases in smart phone and tablet usage meaning that even when people are away from their home computer they can still connect with their mobile device.

Data provided by Econsultancy. Stats include Boxing Day e-commerce traffic, mobile sales and conversions from Affiliate Window, a record week for app downloads and sales data from John Lewis, Amazon and Next.

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