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Four considerations to kick-start your holiday readiness planning

Holiday season in July?

Has Amazon's Prime Day officially kicked-off the holiday selling period? Probably not, but its success does suggest people are ready for a discount, which means retailers should prepare for a busy holiday season. So what can retailers expect in the coming weeks and months?

Here are four trends retailers need to consider when planning for the holidays:

1. Consumer confidence is rising

Consumers seem increasingly willing to shop. The National Retail Federation (NRF) 2015 Holiday Planning Playbook has consumer confidence climbing in parallel with some of the lowest gas prices seen in six years. All signs are pointing to a strong holiday selling period.

2. Mobile's shopping impact increasing

According to Goldman Sachs, mobile commerce will contribute ~33% of all digital commerce sales this year (and a staggering 49% by 2018). Equally impressive is the fact that digital interactions will influence over half of all retail sales in 2015, according to Forrester. In short, you need to make sure your mobile experience delivers on any device, anywhere - whether it's delivered via responsive design or an app.

3. Content needs to differentiate

Customers want interesting, fun, and unique content that provides information about the products but also, increasingly, that entertains or brings value in other ways. Successful retailers are able to create content and find ways to deliver it in interesting ways to build stronger customer relationships. Whether it's a custom video featuring a celebrity (#missadventure episode 2:" the great escape", starring anna kendrick) or a "what's trending" blog series, engaging, distinctive and branded content will help retailers to standout in a selling season traditionally defined by price, not quality or loyalty. Technology can help with this, as can a content-focused team like Marriott has deployed - Inside Marriott's Thriving 65-Person Content Studio. Either way, the message is clear - content is king.

4. Stores still matter, especially if they're digitally connected

For most verticals, brick and mortar stores still matter because customers like to see and touch a product. Whether you call it Omni-channel, cross-channel, customer-centric or anything else, the key is to create a consistent customer experience regardless of how or where a customer engages with you - desktop, mobile, tablet, or in-store mobile kiosk. Ensure they (and your associates) have access to any and all content to help them make a satisfying decision, and conclude the purchase as quickly, seamlessly, and simply as possible.

Some innovative retailers are going beyond the basics and providing truly immersive experiences.  For example, Macy's pilot to enhance the in-store shopping experience - 'Future of Shopping' now in Macy's is a great use of digital devices to ease shopping, trying and buying.

To learn how Akamai can help you achieve your goals for a successful holiday season, join us on August 20th at 1:00pm EST to hear more about digital commerce trends we're tracking, holiday readiness planning (from a former CIO at Guitar Center), and how Akamai helps retailers ensure a high-quality, secure shopping experience  this holiday season.


Caley Iandiorio is the Global Industry Marketing Manager for Commerce at Akamai