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Preparing For the 2013 Online Holiday Season

2013 Online Holiday Season
Even though it’s still summer, the holiday season is approaching and many online retailers will begin making decisions surrounding their holiday initiatives very soon. So what can online retailers learn from the holiday season last year and, more importantly, how can they transition this information to improve in 2013? I sat down with our web analytics specialist, Jacob Knettel, to look at some holiday eCommerce figures from last year to help draw conclusions about what to possibly expect for the coming holiday season…

Our research is a compilation of data from eleven PFSweb clients (six consumer goods clients and five retail clients) comparing the combined months of September and October 2012 with the combined months of November and December 2012 (the “holiday season”).

Overall Holiday Trends

  • New site visits increased 32% during the 2012 holiday season compared to previous months, repeat visitors also increased 23% in the same timeframe
  • The conversion rate increased 0.4% from 3.5% to 3.9% during the holiday months
  • New customers increased by 49% during the holiday months, repeat buyers were up 33%


Mobile / Tablet

  • Mobile sessions increased 33% and tablet sessions increased 32% during the holiday season compared to previous months
  • Mobile sales were up 53% during the holiday season last year and accounted for 4.4% of all holiday season sales, tablet sales increased 48% and accounted for 14% of all sales
  • At a minimum, online retailers should prepare for one-third of their 2013 holiday traffic to come via mobile or tablet devices and one-fifth of sales to come from these devices


Below is a graph which projects the estimated traffic by device for this coming holiday season…



Black Friday / Cyber Monday

  • Black Friday accounted for 13% of total holiday sales on average in the 2012 holiday season – Cyber Monday accounted for 15% of sales
  • The conversion rate on Black Friday and Cyber Monday was significantly higher (5.7%) than the rest of holiday season (3.9% – a 46% increase)
  • E-mail marketing remains a key driver of sales on these online holidays – 29% of Black Friday and 40% of Cyber Monday on-site sales came from promotional e-mails


In conclusion, online retailers can again expect strong growth during the 2013 online holiday season as consumers continue to change the way they shop online. Desktop sessions continue to be replaced by mobile and tablet sessions which is directly related to an increase in the amount of mobile and tablet sales. Major online retail holidays such as Black Friday and Cyber Monday will continue to drive a large portion of online sales during the holiday season, with some retailers poised to see over 30% of their online holiday sales come directly from these two days alone. At a minimum, retailers should generally assess their technology infrastructure as the number of overall site sessions and orders will likely increase once again for online retailers this holiday season.