Posts categorized ‘Holiday Season’

Digital Retailers Already Prepping for Peak Season

I am based in London in the UK, and for the first time in a long while, we have been able to enjoy a great sun-filled summer. The retail press has been full of good news stories for a change, especially for the impact the heat wave has had on fashion retailers who have been able to delay their sales, and reduce sale discounts to show great year-over-year improvements in sales of summer lines.

But, we all know the summer will soon be over, vacations will be distant memories, and the real work starts in earnest as preparations are made for the key peak season.


joules-christmas shot


I wanted to use this blog to provide some inspiration for those currently finalizing plans for peak campaigns. Zmags digital catalogs were used by some of the world’s largest and most renowned brands last year to create stunning digital content experiences to provide gift ideas. And the good news is,  they worked!

Rocket shipHere are some performance highlights from brands using online catalogs and gift guides in Q4 2012:

  • Share of tablet/mobile visits 22.6%
  • Zmags ecommerce conversion rate 173% higher on average than website average
  • Average order value for Zmags shoppers increased by 18%
  • Average time spent on site increased by 144% for those that viewed a Zmag

Additional results from last holiday season can be found in our 2012 Digital Catalog/Magazine Benchmark report


Zmags has created a lot of statistical research to show how presenting product in a linear experience is leading to higher page views, product views, engagement times, and ecommerce conversion rates – these are amplified through peak season due to the pressure of needing to find gift ideas for family and friends. The Zmags format has proved a more engaging and inspirational way to allow consumers to discover your product compared to traditional website layout.

Here below are just a few examples of what our clients created last year (please note ecommerce links are no longer active):




If you are planning to send any print campaigns to your consumers this holiday season, then having a digital Zmag version that is fully shoppable and can be viewed in HTML5 across devices could be a great way to make your investment in the printed collateral go much further, whilst enriching your website to create a truly joined up campaign. You may also want to create something bespoke for the digital channel, and Zmags is well placed to help here too with best practice advice on techniques to build highly engaging and great performing digital marketing and ecommerce campaigns.

Whether you are bringing a print campaign to digital or starting fresh with a digital publication, consult the Zmags 2013 Holiday Playbook for  any e-commerce endeavor this Holiday season. Additionally, please do not hesitate to get in touch with a consultant in your area to find out more about the Zmags Commerce Edition Solution

Digital Catalog/Magazine Benchmark Webinar Recap

Yesterday I led a webinar highlighting key findings from our first Zmags Quarterly Digital Catalog/Magazine Benchmark Report.  (That is a mouthful.  ZQDCMBR?  Not much better!)

zmags-ebookFor anyone interested who was unable to make it, not to worry!  You can still watch the webinar recording anytime.

This new quarterly research study defines digital publication benchmark performance on key metrics.  To stay within my allotted hour, the webinar  focused  primarily on the retail/ecommerce and apparel/fashion industries.  Key points covered in the session included:

1. Online catalogs and magazines are gaining traction with consumers, and mobile traffic to these publications is on the rise — exceeding over 1 in 5 visits to Zmags in 2012

2. Retailers with online catalogs see much higher conversion rates among this segment of shoppers.  In Q4 2012, the average ecommerce conversion rate for digital catalog viewers was 173% higher than website visits that didn’t include the experience.

3. Apparel/fashion digital catalogs performed even better on key metrics than other retail categories.  During the holidays though, competition for these consumers’ time is even stronger than during the rest of the year–so brands need to be creative in order to stand out.


The event had solid attendance and some great questions were asked at the end.  Two worth sharing:

1.  Is it possible to measure the impact of digital publications on in-store traffic?

Yes!  There are a few ways this can be done in Zmags:

a. Include links to your store locator page in your online catalog.  The number of clicks on these links and CTR are indications of the interest in seeing and feeling products in stores that your catalogs are generating.

b. Feature unique codes (discounts, QR), coupons or even products that can only be redeemed in stores.  Calculate total redemptions as a percent of Zmags visits to measure influence and success.  (Then, on shoppers’ receipts, feature a link to your newest online catalog in order to repeat the cycle!)

2.  Where can I find out more information about the benchmarks in my industry, which is automotive?

These and other detailed results are available in our exclusive whitepaper.   To see how Zmags performance varies by industry, see page 9 — which includes key metrics broken down by travel, auto, food and beverage, publishing/media, and more.


Looking ahead, it’s already time to start analyzing the Q1 data!  Our full webinar series schedule can be found here; check back soon to sign up for the Q1 2013 Benchmark webinar!


Our 1st Quarterly Digital Catalog Benchmark Report: 2012 Release & Webinar next week

Next Wednesday, April 10th at 11 am ET/ 4 pm GMT I’ll be leading a webinar about the 2012 Zmags’ First Digital Catalog Benchmark Report.  The findings detailed in this report are aimed at helping Marketers, Content Strategists, Ecommerce leaders, etc. know what to expect to achieve via this type of collateral.

We aggregated performance data across more than 24K online magazines and catalogs that were activated by Zmags customers in 2012 to establish a baseline on key metrics, including:  visitation levels, conversion rates, time spent per visit, and more.  Moving forward, quarterly updates will be released to expand upon these learnings – to help you stay up-to-speed on the latest digital catalog trends and developments over the year.

Here is a sneak peak at some of the key points I’ll cover in the webinar:

  • More than 1 in 5 visits to online magazines and catalogs are from mobile devices (smartphones or tablets)
  • The best-performing online gift guides last holiday season were actually fairly short — fewer than 20 pages — and aimed at specific audiences and segments
  • Plus, hear our top 3 digital catalog/magazine predictions for 2013 (hint:  “one size fits all” is a thing of the past!)

Click here to sign-up if you haven’t already!

Share of visits via mobile device

Analyze This: Top 10 Customer Stats of 2012

The first quarter of the year is always a time when we can digest and evaluate all that happened in the previous year, and hopefully make sense of it all. Looking at 2012, we brought many leading retailers and brands on board, and our customers’ Zmags had 31.8M more visits than in 2011—a 14% jump YOY.

Not surprisingly, as more consumers multi-task, browse and shop on the go, traffic from mobile devices (tablets and smartphones) going  to online magazines and catalogs also rose significantly during the course of the year.  Android is making up an increasing share of these visits, which were once dominated by iOS devices (iPhones and iPads).

2012 stats image

During the holidays, this momentum in online catalog usage was even more pronounced.  On Christmas Day alone, Zmags publications saw a 51% increase in visits vs. Christmas 2011*

With analytics on the brain, I also compiled what I consider to be our “top 10” customer stats of the year.  The numbers speak for themselves – clearly demonstrating the benefit of digital publications to both key brand engagement and ecommerce metrics.








Top 10 Zmags Stats of 2012:

10. 35 minutes on average spent reading a digital celebrity/TV magazine

9. Home Décor catalog viewers spent 1084% more time on the website than other shoppers

8. Online catalog shoppers went on to view 4x more pages on website

7. 23% of readers clicked on ads in a digital travel guide

6. 35% of cruise e-brochure views were from right within Facebook

5. 56% of visits to a women’s retail ecatalog were from a smartphone or tablet

4. Online candle catalog visitors drove 13.3% total website revenue (during the time period)

3. For every $1 invested with Zmags, a major retailer saw $4.36 in return

2. 9x higher ecommerce conversion rate from online home décor catalog visitors vs. other site visitors

1. An electronics retailer had 2.4M total visits to a single Zmags flyer

Top 10 stats iPad

Most of the success stories above result from both intuitive digital design (e.g., it’s easy for the audience to view and interact with the content on all devices) and savvy marketing efforts pointing towards the content.  Consumers were encouraged to linger more with these brands, and often inspired to make purchases they might not have otherwise.

How do these stats compare with the performance of your Zmags?  Against your other digital campaigns? Let us know if you have any specific questions regarding these metrics and trends.

I can’t wait to see how 2013 plays out, and expect to see these metrics improve over time.  Stay tuned for periodic updates to this leaderboard!



*This is a significantly above-average lift relative to the top 500 retail sites  (See Experian, 12/27/12: “Christmas Day 2012 retail visits increase 27% compared to 2011”)

Why Marketers are Scurrying to Provide Video Based Content

Comscore reports that as of April 2012, almost 85 percent of US audience viewed online video. An adult viewer watches 21.8 hours a month on an average and this is double the corresponding figure in 2010.

How to use video in your digital catalogThe emergence of multiple digital touch points with enhanced multimedia capabilities has further facilitated the popularity of videos as a content medium. A 2012 study by the etailing group sponsored by Invodo revels that one in two smart phone users and more than six out of ten tablet users watch one or more product videos in a three month period.

Such a steep increase in the popularity of the video is forcing marketers sit up and take notice. The Social media examiner reports that 76 percent of all marketers plan to increase the space of video in their marketing plans in 2012. This is likely to yield good results, with the Internet Retailer reporting that 85 percent of the prospects who view product videos would most likely make the purchase. Those who view video are 17.4 percent more likely to make a purchase versus those who do not watch videos.

There are many reasons for such a high conversion rates:

  • Videos provide the most appropriate engagement medium for those who prefer visual or audible communications over written or verbal communications. Such people constitute about 60 to 70 percent of all shoppers.
  • Videos help consumers progress to a “ready to buy” state by educating them with product information and specifications. Evidence suggests that people who watch videos spend more time on the website and engage better. When they purchase, they purchase with confidence, with lesser cart abandonment compared to those who do not watch videos. After making a purchase they are less likely to return the product.
  • For the marketer, incorporating video provides an added benefit of improved SEO optimization, resulting in improved search engine ranking and thereby better visibility.

How are you using this medium to increase conversion rates?

Optimized Digital Catalogs Allow Brands to Position Themselves for the Holiday Season

One of the main reasons why digital catalogs have seen a surge in popularity is its ability to showcase products in its natural settings, while providing the consumer with rich insights without disrupting the navigation or the experience.

A catalog that exemplifies such ability is Joules Christmas Lookbook, developed by Zmags. Joules’ new Lookbook, for the winter shopping season, incorporate statement pieces, key looks and outfitting ideas that aims to showcase the wardrobe, and provides the consumer with a fresh flurry of styles, prints and gift ideas.

Joules Holiday Lookbook by Zmags

The catalog highlights the statement pieces in their natural setting. Each product has a tag attached to it, clicking on which will open a pop up that provides a better image of the product, brief product description, the ability to select the color, size and quantity and add the item to the shopping bag. The pop-up drills down to detailed product description, delivery options, information on exchanges, allows the consumer to share the product through various social media channels such as Facebook, Twitter and Pinterest, and even send an email. All this is without disruption to the catalog navigation, which still remains at the same page, allowing the consumer to resume the shopping experience even after checkout and purchase.

An extensive yet unobtrusive top header menu allows the consumer to locate exactly what they look for and land at the relevant page directly. Alternatively, a footer popup provides a preview of the upcoming pages, providing the consumer with an insight as to what lies ahead even without leaving the current page, useful to make up your mind when browsing! A slide-bar attached to the popup allows for quick and direct navigation to the required page.

Needless to say, catalogs allows brands to position themselves in the best possible manner during this holiday season.

Leverage Tablet Optimized Catalogs to Maximize Holiday Sales

The holiday season may be the time to take a break or relax for the general populace, but it is a make or break time for retailers. The emergence of digital touch points such as the tablets will impact holiday shopping, and retailers need to factor this new touch point into their holiday marketing campaign.

The ZMags survey reports that 94 percent of online holiday shoppers will shop the same or more this year when compared to last year. But what is significant is the fact that 17 percent of these holiday shoppers will shop less in stores compared to the previous year. On the other hand, 44 percent of online shoppers plan to shop on a tablet. One in five shoppers plan to shop more using their tablets, and four out of every ten shoppers plan to shop more using their mobile devices.

Tablet & Mobile Shoppers Holiday Plans Research

One major factor driving the popularity of tablets as an ecommerce medium is catalogs. Catalogs have been a part of retail for over one hundred years now. While 43 percent of print catalog shoppers will purchase the same or more, one out of every ten catalog shoppers plan to use such print catalogs less often. Rather, 63 percent of online shoppers plan to use online catalogs. Catalogs in fact ranks second, below retailer websites (88 percent) on where online shoppers plan to purchase during this holiday season. The other popular places where online shoppers plan to make their purchases are daily deals websites (56 percent), mobile or tablet apps (42 percent), Facebook (38 percent) and Pinterest (35 percent).

Among those already hooked on to online catalogs, 25 percent of them plan to increase their purchases through this medium.

Trends indicate that 53 percent of shoppers plan to shop after looking at two to five catalogs and 27 percent of the shoppers plan to shop after looking at six to nine catalogs. In today’s hyper-competitive age where information flows freely, retailers would do well to design the catalog for relevancy, aggressively promote the catalog through all possible mediums such as emails, social media and other methods to make it easy to find and get the early bird advantage by releasing the catalog before the competitor does.

Want to see all the data? Download the Tablet and Mobile Shoppers Holiday Plans research done by our team.

[DKB url="" text="Download the Tablet & Mobile Shoppers Holiday Plans Research" color="green" opennewwindow="yes"]


Holiday Shoppers Embrace Tablet Commerce in a Big Way

The 2011 Holiday Shopping Survey conducted by Equation Research on over 1500 US based online shoppers spread across age, gender and income levels presents some interesting findings.

Holiday shopping on a tablet87 percent of all tablet owners revealed their intention to shop through the tablets during the holiday season. 53 percent of them expressed their intention not just to research and discover, but also purchase using the tablet. The figure is set to rise further with 49 percent of the respondents anticipating that they will purchase more using tablets in 2012. A high figure denotes the arrival of the tablet as a major ecommerce medium.

The most popular items of interest among holiday shoppers who use the tablet is electronics. 60 percent use the tablet to browse for electronic goods and 53 percent actually make a purchase. Clothing comes next with 52 percent of tablet owners browsing for clothes and 40 percent making a purchase. Toys, Music and Books rank next in popularity, in that order.

The tablet has over time proven itself as a device that inspires people to shop. 65 percent of the tablet owners are inspired to shop, compared to 35 percent of the non-tablet owners. The inspiration stems from the ability of the tablets to facilitate the discovery of products better. Digital websites contribute significantly in this aspect.

Tablets also facilitate browsing and discovery in a “lean back and relax” environment, something other digital mediums fail to provide. 50 percent of all tablet owners feel inspired to discover and eventually purchase when they are on the couch, while another 20 percent feel so when they are in bed.

So, how about creating that digital catalog?

Gearing Up for the Holiday Season

105 million out of the total 177 million online adults in the US access the Internet through two or more different device types. One in three in this group does so with a minimum of four different device types. About 4.5 million access the net from a minimum of nine different device types.

Online Shopping During the Holiday Season | ZmagsThe use of multiple devices peaks during the holiday season, when people are more likely to use the smart phone and tablets in addition to the desktop. The number of online shoppers during the holiday season has seen a steady increase over the years. The value of the coming holiday online shopping season is expected to increase by 36 percent over the previous year.

Marketers need to understand these facts and tailor a multi-device compatible shopping experience for the holiday season.

Most shoppers shop online for a better deal, and this is even more so during the holiday season. Data from reveals that search volume for retailer coupons and discount codes has consistently peaked during the holiday season for the past three years. The sales data for Black Friday, Thanksgiving Weekend and Cyber Monday makes this even more apparent. 45 of the 50 top online retailers understand this fact and offer special deals during the holiday season in general and key dates in particular. Free shipping is the most popular of the various special deals options.

Smart marketers should leverage the technology offered by emerging devices such as tablets and smart phones to drive loyalty. For instance, the promotion that customers cherish during the festival season could come as reward for checking into a specific store. Customers scanning the brand’s QR code could be delivered a special discount.

The possibilities are endless. How can you differentiate yourself during the holiday season?

Infographic: Portrait of a Tablet User

We found a great infographic on the demographics and behavior of tablet users in the U.S., developed and produced by Miva Merchant. With our product, it is important to show the value of how consumers are using tablets to make purchasing decisions. This infographic includes show stunning stats that demonstrate why you should be paying attention to tablet use.

According to the research done, tablet usage is up 300% from last year, and 77% of users used their tablet for shopping in the 2011 holiday season. Furthermore, the tablet market is growing 10 times faster than than smart phones. But one of the most important statistics that we found was that 77% of retailers claim that orders made from tablets are of greater value than those made on home or work computers.

Check out this awesome infographic for some more statistics – are you paying attention?

Infographic: Portrait of a Tablet User | Zmags