Holiday retail technology holiday checklist

A Retailer’s Guide: Your 12 Step Technology Checklist for the Holidays

The madness of the holidays is upon us and retailers are feeling more time-crunched than usual as they scramble to deliver exceptional online shopping experiences.

As consumers have come to expect seamless omnichannel shopping, it’s even more stressful for marketing & ecommerce teams to deliver winning holiday campaigns. Retailers need to support dozens of different technology requirements to deliver multichannel content, just in time for the throngs of holiday shoppers.

Wouldn’t it be helpful to know which devices and operating systems to prioritize? We distilled information from the National Retail Federation’s Holiday Consumer Spending Survey, the Demandware Shopping Index for Q3 2015, and customer data from our own shoppable content platform.

Below are some of the important technology trends retailers should be prioritizing this holiday season and into 2016. Access our latest eBook to get our full technology analysis & recommendations.

Key Technology Trends for Online Retail Success

Prioritize by Device and Screen Size

First, let’s examine what types of devices are driving the most visitors across retail sites this holiday season. On average, desktop visitors (56%) are still slightly outpacing mobile (44%) visitors (phones + tablets) for Zmags’ retail customers. This is a more conservative finding than the latest Demandware Shopping Index, which found that phones alone now command 41% of retail traffic share in the US, up 44% year-over-year.

Any way you analyze it, however, it’s clear that mobile devices drive a tremendous amount of traffic to retail sites. Clearly, mobile needs to be a top priority for retailers who want to deliver the best customer experience across channels.

Ensure Mobile Shoppers Can Convert

When it comes to converting those mobile visitors to paying customers The National Retail Foundation’s annual survey found that 21.4 percent of smartphone owners will use their device to purchase holiday merchandise this year.

This directly aligns with Demandware’s finding that phones were used to complete 21% of orders in Q3 on this year. IBM also found that, for the first time, Black Friday & Cyber Monday shoppers’ average order value on tablet exceeded that of desktops.

With Zmags retail customers like New York & Company already seeing 60%+ of weekly visitors coming from mobile, we expect mobile conversion numbers to be even more aggressive over the 2015 holiday season.

Optimize Your Experiences by Mobile Operating System

Next, we analyzed which mobile operating systems drive the most traffic share across our customer base. While it’s well known that Android smartphones dominate the market with upwards of 80% market share, our studies revealed that iOS device owners visit retailer sites by an order of nearly 2 to 1 over Android owners.

Removing the small percentage of Windows Phone and Blackberry users, we saw 66% traffic share for iOS across Zmags customers and 34% traffic share for Android customers. This gives iOS the clear edge over Android in our analysis. These results also align with the Demandware Shopping Index, which found that mobile OS battle between Android and iOS to be a bit more evenly matched at 41% to 59% respectively.

Don’t Forget Desktop Operating Systems

When it comes to Desktop OS, the successful launch of Windows 10 and the large embedded market for older Windows operating systems makes Windows the clear priority for retailers who want to appeal to a desktop visitor. Across Zmags’ customers, we found that 2.5 x more traffic to retailers’ sites came from Windows powered desktop devices than Mac OS X powered ones.

Takeaways: The Etailer’s Holiday Technology Checklist

Retailers have limited time and resources to support the plethora of devices and technology options out there. So, here are a few simple technology rules to live by based on Zmags’ analysis:

  1. Desktop and Mobile devices are equal in importance – While designing retail experiences for mobile devices was previously an afterthought when compared to desktop, today’s retailers don’t have that luxury. Most studies are reporting smartphones equalizing, and in some cases outpacing, desktop computers in terms of driving traffic to retailer sites. Retailers must individually strategize about the experience they want to deliver on each major device type and develop uniquely for the features and constraints of each medium.
  2. iOS first – Android may be winning the device market share battle but when it comes to retailer visits and purchases, iOS is the clear victor. Focus on iOS retail experiences delivery first if time is constrained.
  3. Windows over Mac – Windows domination of the desktop OS market continues. Retailers should develop for a Windows experience first and increasingly prioritize Windows 10 as consumer market share increases.

While every retailer is different and each has a unique audience to cater to, we hope that this research offers some general technology priorities for the industry as a whole. What will you be prioritizing for the 2015 holidays and 2016?

For even more technology tips and recommendations, check out our 12 Days of Retail Christmas holiday eBookand make your holiday successful.

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