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Retail Trends

10 must-have components for digital retail this holiday season

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Holiday planning is well underway for many retailers, so we’re delighted to announce that the annual Holiday Strategy & Planning Guide is now available. As usual, the guide is packed with consumer and retailer insights gleaned in partnership with BIGresearch, best practices notes from Resource Interactive, and – new this year – expert insights from Adlucent Founder and CTO (and Research Committee member) Michael Griffin.

As I mentioned in a post earlier this summer, the general economic situation since 2008 has pushed our industry to become increasingly innovative and rigorous in every aspect of online retail. Given the smorgasbord of technologies, platforms, marketing and merchandising tactics and formats available – not to mention an as-yet confounding marketplace – we’re focusing the 2011 edition of the Holiday Guide on what we think really matters during this all-important season. Here are 10 specific themes that emerged from this years guide:

1.    Know your customer. (Basic? Yes – but overlooked at one’s peril.)
2.    Engage with that customer in an increasingly multi- (cross?) channel world.
3.    Get the merchandising fundamentals right. (It’s not just about bells and whistles…)
4.    Make  gift cards, gift guides, and wish lists really earn their keep.
5.    Nail your marketing strategy and execution.  (It’s not just about bells and whistles – part 2.)
6.    Figure out what stand to take on free shipping (one size doesn’t fit all…).
7.    Maximize the Thanksgiving Week / Weekend / Cyber Monday opportunity (hint: it’s not just about Black Friday anymore).
8.    Capitalize on last minute and post holiday shopping (shipping deadlines actually don’t spell the end of holiday sales for online retailers).
9.    Service your customers in the best way possible.
10.  Test and fine-tune fulfillment options for customers.

Please note that this list is not meant to be all-encompassing  – rather, it is the foundation that retailers need to have in place before tackling anything else for holiday.

Next up on the holiday front: in September we’ll launch the eHoliday 2011 pre-holiday surveys of both retailers and consumers. Then we’ll update continually the blog and Holiday Central page thereafter with insights and tips for a successful holiday season.  My first tip:  attend the 2011 Annual Summit in mid-September for true e-commerce immersion and to spark tons of ideas for this holiday season and the coming year.  (Even better: bring your team – it’s literally impossible for one individual to absorb the full breadth and depth that the Summit offers.) members can download a complimentary copy of the 2011 Holiday Strategy & Planning Guide; non-members can purchase the guide here.