Christmas Round-up

Christmas round-up 2016: How did it go?

By Susanne Sosanya, Marketing Executive at Tryzens

Glad tidings for retailers as industry reflects on positive festive season

 According to the British Retail Consortium this week, it wasn’t just Black Friday and Cyber Monday that got us splashing the cash for the holidays at the tail end of 2016 – in fact, the whole of December saw a rise in total like-for-like sales of 1% compared to the same period in 2015.

Timing is everything

There are many factors that helped increase spend, both online and in-store. Last minute shoppers and continuing deals, as well as the fact that the Big Day fell on a Sunday (leaving time for those ultra-last minute buys on the high street on Christmas Eve), all contributed to enabling retailers to squeeze the last few pennies from consumers in the weeks leading up to the 25th. But Barclaycard, which also reported an increase in consumer spending in the three months to Christmas, is quick to point out that this uptick in sales was in fact primarily down to online transactions as the high street saw a slowdown. Springboard also reported that Boxing Day saw a 19.9% drop in high street footfall compared to 2015.

2016: ‘ringing up’ the changes

As for online, a major factor in driving revenues was the continued effort from brands to improve the shopping experience. 2016 was a huge year for retailers investing in new technologies and introducing strategic changes to their eCommerce offerings. Key trends such as improved delivery choices (from click and collect to increased options for cheaper or free delivery), streamlined checkouts (everything from address verification to wider options for payments) and investment into the mobile experience (optimising sites, enhancing photos and adding new media such as videos) have all given a great boost to online shopping.

So, how did we do?

One retailer stated that their mobile revenue rose by 50% year-on-year over the entire festive shopping period.

The proof, of course, is in the Christmas pudding! We said previously in our blog that once the Cyber Weekend was over, our customer sites would need to remain robust during extended deals periods and beyond in the run up to 25th December and into the January sales.

Throughout 2016, Tryzens’ Expert Services team worked in close quarters with our customers to ensure that their websites were stress tested and health checked (and up to facing the pressure of the winter shopping season). Despite the noticeable trend for retailers of all types to extend the promotional period to a week or longer, as well as those who selectively discounted in order to preserve their margins, their virtual storefronts remained stoic, with multiple performance records being broken.

Our continuous monitoring of our clients’ websites throughout the period meant we were able to frequently update them on key performance metrics, such as traffic, conversion rates, abandoned baskets, sales and so on. The substantial preparation in order to maximise returns has clearly paid off.

We have spoken to a number of clients (including household name brands that operate internationally), all of whom have reported an increase on sales and year-on-year growth compared to 2015, averaging around 35%. In fact, several reported “record-breaking” like-for-like revenue growth, and in particular, mobile shopping is the shining star. One retailer stated that their mobile revenue rose by 50% year-on-year over the entire festive shopping period. After some significant strategic changes to their mobile offering in 2016, the impact is clear.

Conversion rates also improved by up to 0.8% for one retailer after implementing a new checkout system in 2016, streamlining the whole process to ensure a frictionless experience for the customer.

Make decisions in real-time and reap the rewards

We at Tryzens worked hard with all of our customers during the peak retail period to provide solid support through our brilliant Expert Services team. Performance and trading updates helped retailers to tweak their sites and respond in near real-time to the pressures, and ensured that if anything were at risk of falling over due to unprecedented demand, there was a contingency in place to quickly resolve the downtime.

We will be continuing to work with retailers throughout the year to make 2017 even better, and ensure that the entire online shopping experience for consumers delivers a profitable year. While it remains to be seen what impact the economy and other external challenges will have on consumer spend in the lead up to Christmas 2017 and beyond, we’ll be there right by our customers’ sides to ensure their eCommerce offerings remain strong.