Inboxes are beginning to flood with flash sales, landing pages are flush with visions of red and green, and you can’t click through a website without coming across messages of thankfulness, merriment, and mirth. It can only mean thing—Turkey Day is almost here, and with it comes the beginning of the insane holiday shopping season.


And to make sure you’re ready, Forrester just released a report that gives retailers a sneak peek into the month ahead—and the lowdown on what they need to know to make the very most of this holiday season.

The 3 basics for holiday ecommerce success

According to Forrester, 2013 U.S. ecommerce holiday sales (November to December) will generate $78.7 billion— a 15% increase over 2012’s total of $68.4. It’ll be a record amount, and the third consecutive year showing double-digit growth rates. In fact, this year, 167 million shoppers are expected to do their holiday shopping online, spending on average $472 for the season, up from $419 in 2012.

So what’s going to contribute to this growth? A lot of the same stuff that made holiday seasons of yore so successful—just amped up a bit.

  • Offer up deep discounts. This can make or break your holiday bottom line. According to Forrester, 56% of U.S. online shoppers say that they’re more concerned about price than a year ago. So much so that it’s the number one priority for holiday shoppers.
  • Free shipping is crucial. Forrester contends that it’s the cornerstone of strong holiday promotions. No bones about it, consumers will jump ship if an etailer doesn’t offer free shipping. It’s the second most common reason why U.S. online buyers abandon purchases and go to another retailer.
  • Maximize the key dates. Thanksgiving, Black Friday, and Cyber Monday continue to be critical to success. In 2012, a reported 206.8 million unique U.S. visitors visited the top 500 retail sites on Cyber Monday, jumping 11% year on year. The wild card? Christmas Day, which saw traffic increase 27% in 2012.

But the big 3 aren’t enough anymore

While free shipping, promos and extra special discounts form the foundation for holiday success, taking marketing to the next level can mean the difference between decent end-of-year revenue and fantastic end-of-year revenue. Read on for some ways Forrester says you can make the most of the holiday season.

  • Always be thinking omnichannel. Make sure that there’s continuity of messaging, whether it’s in-store or online. By the time the ball drops on 2013, 41% of all retail sales (or, $247 billion) will be digitally influenced. Remember, more and more shoppers are likely to visit an ecommerce site before making an in-store visit, and they’re also more likely to have a smartphone at hand while shopping in person. It’ll serve retailers well to make that experience seamless.
  • Make the most of mobile. According to Forrester, shoppers often use critical services like store locators, customer reviews, and mobile coupons when making purchases. It’s important that all content renders just right on across mobile devices. Using responsive design is a surefire way to make this happen. But the speed of the site also plays an important role—shoppers react best to fast mobile sites that include features such as express check-out.
  • Leverage email as much as possible. To attract and re-engage repeat customers, keep on sending those emails—but be sure to make them relevant. Aside from going directly to a retailer’s website, emails outrank all other mediums—yep, even search—as the most common way for shoppers to find deals. And since so many consumers open their emails on their mobile devices, it gives retailers the added bonus of anytime access.

So as you leap head-first into the holiday shopping madness, hopefully you’re set to follow these sage recommendations and ready for your piece of the rapidly growing ecommerce pie.