With UK shopper expected to spend £6.4bn in December, up from £5.5bn last year, how are retailers preparing for the busiest time of the year? Trade body IMRG and consultancy Capgemini caught up with some of the key players in the UK ecommerce industry for their thoughts…
Alison Wade, Head of Marketing, Buyagift.com, comments: “In this difficult trading environment we are seeing people planning their Christmas shopping further in advance than previous years. At the beginning of September we launched our strongest ever range of Christmas offers – a month earlier than last year. “These offers help cement our value proposition, drive conversion and benefit shoppers looking to spread the cost of Christmas. We are also looking to support our usual online channels with an extensive offline marketing investment including TV, DM and PR. This will drive large scale awareness of Buyagift.com, bring new users to the site and showcase our extensive range of gifts and experiences.”
Phillip Rinn, Director of Advertising Partnerships, UK and EMEA, eBay Advertising, comments: “As online shopping accelerates in the run-up to Christmas, retail sites are a great platform for advertisers wanting to benefit from a wide audience of consumers in a purchase-mindset. With the latest IMRG Capgemini Index showing an additional £1bn spent online in September 2010, compared to the previous year, it’s clear online shopping is now mainstream, with consumers looking to the internet for an increasingly diverse range of products and services. At eBay Advertising, we use our in depth customer insights to react to changes in consumer behaviour and collaborate with brands to navigate the online high street, by connecting with consumers, with the right message at the right time.”
Bruce Fair, Managing Director of Kelkoo UK, comments: “The retail industry is traditionally viewed as a leading indicator of economic trends and results this Christmas will prove vital in stimulating retail growth and overall economic recovery. The fact that online sales have risen in September despite consumer confidence dipping below expectations is an indication that the Web is set to mount a real challenge to the dominance of the high street in the crucial run-up to Christmas. Shoppers will continue to strive to get the very best prices whilst side-stepping the imminent rise in VAT and as a result online commerce will prove the driving force for overall retail growth this festive period.”
Mark Lewis, CEO, Collect +, said: “It is encouraging to see that consumers are continuing to spend online in spite of confidence slipping as talk of cuts increases. But online and multi-channel retailers are going to face a crucial quarter with significant challenges ahead, and not just less money in consumers’ pockets. With The Postal Services Bill raising the prospect of industrial action at Royal Mail, e-retailers need to ensure that they have sufficient choice in delivery and returns to ride out any strike action. It is vital that online retailers continue to offer the level of service that customers expect during the trading period in the run up to Christmas.”
Paul Zimmerman, Managing Director, Firebox.com comments: “Sales at Firebox.com were up 35% year on year in September and our top ten best selling products (in terms of revenue) were the more fun, less expensive items with an average price of under £20.
Firebox customers certainly began shopping for Christmas gifts at Firebox in early October but in September, the items purchased from us were definitely a mixture of gifts and self-purchases. Firebox customers were buying a lot of our fun, less expensive items (such as the Putty Monsters and Silly Bandz) as well as a few of our slightly more expensive, but still fun, yet more practical items (such as the Wifi Bathroom Scales and Polaroid Cameras).”
John Smith, co-founder of GettingPersonal.co.uk, says: “We have seen consistent strong growth throughout the year with September being no exception. There is no doubt our customers are shopping earlier for Christmas this year, with September seeing a YOY trebling of traffic on key Christmas terms. We are continually providing our customers with unique and innovative new products, and this combined with delivering excellent service means our customers remain loyal and keep returning month after month.”