Digital Tops Marketing Priorities for Retailers This Holiday Season [Study]

Digital is expected to be the most utilized avenue of marketing for retailers this holiday season, according to a study from eBay Enterprise released earlier today.

The “2014 Holiday Retail Audit,” which surveyed more than 1,000 online retailers, revealed that 63 percent will use online tools more than any other marketing strategy over the holiday period, with social media being the main focus. This was followed by email promotions as a second focal point (22 percent), and search engine optimization in third place (12 percent).

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Customer data is another priority. Nearly 90 percent of retailers feel at least somewhat prepared to capture their customers’ data in-store and 54 percent expressed concern over protecting that data. The number of those who are “very concerned” skewed slightly higher among larger retailers, those defined as expecting anywhere from $50 to $250 million in online revenue. The larger retailers were also more likely to have experienced a security breach in the past.

Something that isn’t a focus is, surprisingly, mobile commerce. Though mobile commerce was defined as the top competitive weakness, only 32 percent expressed plans to invest in it. Half of those will be doing so for the first time.

Compared with Amazon, a direct competitor according to 51 percent of respondents, 60 percent of retailers don’t feel their company’s mobile commerce stacks up. Almost as many also feel Amazon has them beat on inventory and shipping, while nearly half extend that sentiment to their returns, as well.

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Tom Barone, head of North America omnichannel operations at eBay Enterprise, thinks retailers can compete with Amazon by simply increasing their delivery speed.

“Multichannel retailers can optimize their brick-and-mortar locations as distribution points to fulfill orders closest to customer location, reducing shipping times and cost through inventory and order management solutions,” he says.

The larger companies feel more threatened by Amazon, which may correlate with the higher value they place on global expansion during the holidays. While Amazon ships to 75 countries, only 9 percent of retailers report being able to do business globally without any barriers.

If retailers can overcome market demand and finding local partners, which were defined as their biggest hurdles, the international markets they prioritize most are Canada, the U.K., China, Australia, and Mexico.

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