Download our Holiday Marketing Playbook to learn mission critical tactics and strategies to drive success during primary shopping days, and essential program components for turning newly acquired customers into retained customers.

‘Tis the season to be jolly! It’s also the peak season for consumer spending. According to the National Retail Federation, shoppers will dish out a whopping $630.5 billion this year, marking a 3.7% increase in sales from 2014. Although there are many factors for businesses to consider during this holiday “gold rush”, certain trends are prevailing that will affect an organization’s bottom line between now and New Year’s Day. In this post, we’ve outlined four trends in particular that businesses should pay special attention to.

Shoppers ‘Search Before They Spend’

Businesses can’t rely solely on shoppers’ impulsivity to boost their profits during this year’s holiday season. An infographic shared by Think with Google reported that 78% of consumers used the internet to research products before purchasing them last year, compared to only 29% who relied on reviews from family and friends. Therefore, any organization that sells and good or service needs to recognize the importance of online reviews. Whether comments posted by users are positive or negative, businesses should engage with people who take the time to write something online about their experience with a company. Doing so demonstrates a business’s ability to accept feedback and tailor their offerings to meet consumer demands in the future. Other considerations regarding consumer internet research include website load time, search engine optimization, and a mobile-friendly user experience. Speaking of mobile…

Mobile Is Making Its Mark

A survey conducted by cross-channel marketing technology company Signal found that 67% of consumers surveyed will browse for items more frequently on a smartphone or tablet than through other mediums. What’s more, 60% of respondents plan to make purchases more often using their mobile devices this year. Another 67% will switch between devices throughout their buying processes. Insights from the Think with Google infographic referenced above revealed that nearly $1 trillion of total retail sales were influenced by shopping-related mobile searches last year alone. These statistics imply the importance of a seamless mobile experience for consumers. Responsive websites, aesthetically-pleasing graphics, downloadable mobile apps, and secure payment options all work to improve shoppers’ opinion of your company. Even if they don’t buy on the spot, consumers may revisit purchasing from your business if their initial impression of it was favorable.

Out with the Old…In with Omnichannel

Another trend dominating the holiday shopping scene is omnichannel offerings. Omnichannel refers to a blending of traditional retail stores and ecommerce for a single purchase transaction. This phenomenon takes the form of “buy online, pickup in store” promotions that are offered by physical retailers, or brick-and-mortar stores and/or pop-up shops being opened by online retailers.

So just how popular is omnichannel becoming? A study done by Deloitte disclosed that  64% of all in-store sales will be influenced by digital by the end of 2015, and 76% of shoppers interact with brands online before purchasing in-store. This means that companies need to make their omnichannel offerings known to consumers who are ready and willing to take advantage of them. The buyer experience should also be relevant and seamless as consumers jump channels.

Brick-and-Mortar Retail Still Rules

Although ecommerce provides grandiose sales for many businesses, many consumers still prefer to use all (or most) of the five senses when making a purchase, especially when buying gifts. In fact, only 20% of total holiday sales occurred via ecommerce in 2014. This implies that consumers still value the brick-and-mortar shopping experience just as much, if not more, than the digital one. Businesses hoping to capitalize on this phenomenon should make sure that their products are always in-stock and are being properly displayed at retail locations during the holiday months. Poorly set-up or boring displays will deter potential customers, and out-of-stock (OOS) instances force consumers to choose another brand. What’s more, OOS hurts brand loyalty and sometimes causes consumers to make a permanent switch away from your business. Carefully monitoring stock levels and documenting merchandising efforts using an affordable software solution can prevent these mishaps.

The holiday season brings shoppers out in droves. It’s a critical time of year for established businesses to meet their sales goals and for emerging brands to make themselves known in the marketplace. Keeping this year’s trends in mind will help your company stay on top of its competition in December and well into the following months.

This article was written by Victoria Vessella from Business2Community and was legally licensed through the NewsCred publisher network.