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December of 2014 may be remembered as the first truly omni-channel holiday season: the year retailers really stretched the sales funnel to include mobile, store visits and online buying under one big connected holiday umbrella.

Let's take a break from the holiday dash to see what we can learn from companies that have been creating unified shopping experiences for consumers while ringing in bigger and better profits for themselves. We'll start with a salute to three great examples of omni-channel thinking: Macy's, Sephora and REI.

Macy's 
When over 15,000 people streamed into Macy's main New York City store at 6 pm this Thanksgiving Day, CEO Terry Lundgren wasn't too surprised. Omni-channel helped put those shoppers there. “So far, people are gravitating to the doorbusters," Lundgren said the next day. "There’s so much information online, so they’re doing that research and going right for those doorbusters."1

Macy's has been working for years to focus its marketing and retail teams into a group with a single vision on omni-channel conversions just like these.

"That incentive, of growing the number of omni-channel customers, is something we have shared over the last couple of years," says Jennifer Kasper, Macy's Group VP for Digital Media and Multi-cultural Marketing.

Sephora 
"In retail, you can't think of mobile as a threat. You have to think about it as a magnet to draw that client into your store." That quote from Bridget Dolan, Sephora's VP Interactive Media, says it all about how Sephora has been winning with omni-media.

Sephora's progressive approach is the result of watching, and actually listening to, its customers. Today the Sephora mobile app lets shoppers scan products right off the shelf and see if they're right for their look. They can also look up past purchases, in case they want that same great shade of lipstick or eye shadow again.
 
New research shows that 46% of shoppers who use mobile devices in-store say they turn to the retailer’s site or app for information while they shop.2 "I really can't believe how much of our traffic is now coming from mobile devices," says Bridget Dolan, "and how many of our clients are using search as the way that they figure out which products they want to buy while they're standing in-store."

REI 
The trusted outdoor retailer’s stores – especially its flagship locations -- are paradise for anyone who plays outside. The company, REI, now uses digital as a way to pull customers right into that local store experience. After researching online, REI customers come into the store to try on those hiking boots or skis and then make the purchase.

Google/Ispos/Sterling research shows 69% of shoppers say they gather information from physical stores at some point in their shopping cycle.3 "One of the things we know definitively is that all of our digital tools really connect our members to our stores," says Annie Zipfel, SVP of Marketing for REI. "So they're often researching product online… and ultimately they're coming in the store to make that purchase."

What can we take away from these three examples of omni-channel success?

  1. Care less about where. All three of these retailers are focused on using all channels to drive sales — wherever those sales might happen. As Jennifer Kasper of Macy's puts it, "The bottom line is, we're indifferent to whether [a shopper] converts in the store or online. We just want her to shop with Macy's." 
  2. Make mobile a magnet. The best omni-channel retailers make mobile a part of their in-store experience, inviting shoppers to use their hand-held devices as they browse. As Bridget Dolan of Sephora says, "We really welcome our clients to take out their phones in our store. A client that really knows exactly what she's buying, all the reviews, all her options... is actually a happier client and will come back and shop with you more often."
  3. Bring down internal barriers. Annie Zipfel of REI says, "It is a smaller and smaller group that shops only in the store, or only online." If you still keep separate online and offline marketing teams, it may be time to think about bringing them, and their incentives, together so they can speak to customers in the way those customers shop now. 
Happy omnidays, retailers!

Visit the Local Retail Playbook to see our new “Digital Impact On In-Store Shopping” research about how consumers are shopping on and offline, and how retailers are responding this holiday season.

Posted by Julie Krueger, Retail Industry Director


1. "CEOs of Target, Macy's, and Others Weigh In on Black Friday Sales." Fortune.com, November 28, 2014. http://goo.gl/lz3s0t
2. "Digital Impact on In-Store Shopping." Google/Ipsos MediaCT/Sterling Brands, October 2014. http://goo.gl/4TU0sY
3. ibid.

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With more and more retailers offering holiday deals earlier in the season, the excitement about Black Friday is no longer confined to a single day. Now it’s more like a month-long event. As a result, one in five shoppers plan to head to stores on Thanksgiving Day to capitalize on Black Friday deals.1

To get a read on the trends heading into Black Friday, we took the temperature of holiday shopping online. We looked at search trends on Google, insights from Google Consumer Surveys and top trending purchases on our same-day delivery service, Google Express.

Mobile shoppers are out in force
As smartphone shoppers hunt for deals during snackable moments throughout their day, this holiday season will likely be the most mobile ever. Shopping searches on Google coming from smartphones have increased 3.5x year over year and continue to grow.2 And we’re currently sending more mobile traffic to retailers per week from Google Shopping than we did during the peak of last holiday season.3

The smartphone has become the most powerful shopping assistant while consumers are out and about, helping us read customer reviews, watch product demos and find other retailers with product in stock nearby. So it’s no surprise that the top spending days in 2013 for in-store sales are also the days we saw the biggest spikes in shopping searches on mobile devices.4

This coming weekend, expect to see many of your fellow shoppers checking for deals on their smartphone while braving the lines and crowds at the mall. Nearly 50% of 25–34- year-olds use their phone to shop online while standing in line at a store.5 To help these shoppers research products more easily this holiday weekend, we rolled out new mobile features to Google Shopping such as 360-degree imagery and more detailed product information.

Top trending gifts of the season

To get a sense of the hottest gifts likely to sell out this season, we used Google Trends to identify the top trending toys, devices and apparel searches on Google Shopping.
  • Game consoles and tablets continue to be the top gifts trending on Google Shopping, but wearable technology such as the “fitbit” is also on the rise this month. 
  • Certain retro toys are making a comeback this season. Thanks to the new movie “Ouija,” searches for “Ouija boards” are up 300% since October. And queries for “Barbie Dream House” and “My Little Pony” are up as well compared to last month. 6
  • Cold-weather staples, such as “Hunter boots” and “Canada Goose jackets,” are among the most popular apparel searches, up 46% and 140%, respectively, since October. But “jogger pants” are the newcomer gift this season, up 39% from October. 7



Hunting for deals online

Shoppers are already prepping for Black Friday shopping by researching purchases and deals online. We found that 27% of shoppers have already begun hunting for Black Friday deals online.8



The top questions people are asking about Black Friday on Google Search are:
  • What time do stores open on Black Friday
  • What time does Black Friday start
  • When does Black Friday end
  • What to buy on Black Friday
Source: Google data, November 2014.

Beating the holiday rush with same-day delivery
We wanted to take the pulse of the people making purchases this weekend as they prepare for the Thanksgiving festivities. Here’s an overview of the top trending purchases on Google Express across locations.9

San Francisco: No gingerbread cookies here. San Franciscans are seeking a nutritious holiday with lots of bananas, avocado, coconut water and quinoa. And talk about eating clean: Disinfecting wipes are also among top shoppers’ searches.
  • West LA: The City of Angels is ready to party. Disposable silverware, plastic cups, paper plates, tortilla chips and garbage bags are all they need for hassle-free entertaining. 
  • Manhattan: New Yorkers start off the day right with cereal, almond milk and—why not?—butter croissants. After a long day, residents relax with snacks such as mini pretzels and almonds. 
  • Boston: Bring your appetite to Boston parties. Salty treats such as maple bacon chips, green pea crisps and peanuts top shopping lists. The city also buys more ketchup and popcorn than any other city. 
  • Chicago: Baby boom. Chicago households are stocking up for tots this winter with lots of baby wipes and goodies such as chocolate and sparkling juice. To ward off sniffles, Chicago is loading up on vitamin C and orange juice!
  • Washington, D.C.: The capital is stocking up on healthy bites such as whole wheat crackers, fruit snacks and diet soda to wash it down. 
To learn more about digital trends and how they’re affecting holiday shopping, visit ThinkwithGoogle.

Posted by Jenny Fernandez, Analytical Insights Marketing, Google

Sources:
1 Google Consumer Survey, November 2014, n=1100.
2 Google Data, November 2014.
3 Global Google Shopping Data, Week of 12/2-12/8 ‘13 compared to 11/1-11/7 ‘14.
4 MasterCard, SpendingPulse report, 2013 and Google Search data, November–December 2013.
5 Google Consumer Survey, November 2014, n=1100.
6 Google Trends, November 2014.
7 Google Trends, November 2014.
8 Google Consumer Survey, November 2014, n=1100.
9 Google Express data, last 90 days (only delivered orders counted).

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(cross-posted on the Google Analytics Blog)

"Enhanced Ecommerce in Google Analytics made it extremely easy to analyze the metrics that are important to an ecommerce site and garner the insights to make smart changes to our website, driving significant improvements in performance!"
-- Danny Gavin, VP and Director of Marketing at Brian Gavin Diamonds

Our Enhanced Ecommerce features in Google Analytics are officially out of beta today, complete with brand new tools like Product Attribution. Combined with our new Shopping Campaigns report, Google Analytics provides our retail clients with an integrated view of their customers. As part of today’s announcements, we’re also excited to highlight partnerships with Shopify, PrestaShop, Blue Acorn for Magento, and mShopper. Using Enhanced Ecommerce in conjunction with our partners’ products simplifies the implementation process and gives you a full set of tools to create and optimize your ecommerce site. Please see the end of this post for more information about our partners’ solutions.

Understand customer behavior
Enhanced Ecommerce provides insight into the customer’s path to purchase, like when customers added items to cart, started the checkout process, and completed a purchase. Importantly, Enhanced Ecommerce gives you the ability to identify segments of customers who are falling out of the shopping funnel. You can then focus on these high intent-to-purchase customers with remarketing or by optimizing your checkout flow. Brian Gavin Diamonds, a Texas-based jewelry design house that is renowned for its signature hearts and arrows diamonds and custom jewelry design, used Enhanced Ecommerce to discover that in a single month they had missed out on more than half a million dollars in sales due to cart abandonment at the customer login page.  The company worked quickly to optimize their checkout flow with guest checkout functionality and immediately realized a 60% increase in customers completing the checkout process to payment.  You can read more about Brian Gavin Diamonds’ success with Enhanced Ecommerce in our case study.


Optimize online merchandising to increase sales 
Once you’ve gotten users to your site, Enhanced Ecommerce allows you to optimize the onsite experience to drive sales. By using Product Lists, you can identify how customers are discovering and interacting with products before purchasing them. Armed with this information, you can analyze your onsite promotions in order to build a more effective merchandising strategy, or use the product attribution functionality to understand which product lists drive conversions.

In an increasingly mobile world, this information is critically important since screen real estate is limited and must be used wisely. For retailers with mobile apps, the Google Analytics SDK fully supports Enhanced Ecommerce, so you can do rich analysis of product performance and customer behavior across all sales channels.  Across both desktop and mobile, Enhanced Ecommerce delivers the information you need to increase sales on your site.

Drive revenue with Shopping Campaign reports
Today, we’re also introducing a new Shopping Campaigns report as part of the AdWords reporting section in Google Analytics.  This feature will be rolled out over the next few weeks and will allow you to analyze the performance of your shopping campaigns.  With this functionality, you’ll have the ability to understand the product categories/types that are driving site engagement and revenue and use this information to optimize your bids.  So, how can you get started?  If you have already linked your Adwords and your Google Analytics accounts, this report will automatically appear in the Adwords reporting section of your Analytics account.  Not linked yet?  Simply follow these instructions to link the two accounts.


Get Enhanced Ecommerce with our partner integrations
Shopify, PrestaShop, Blue Acorn for Magento, and mShopper have partnered with us to integrate Enhanced Ecommerce as part of their ecommerce solutions. If you’re using one of these platforms, you can take advantage of Enhanced Ecommerce by enabling one of these pre-built integrations.  Shopify’s solution is available today while solutions for Prestashop, Blue Acorn, and mShopper will be available in the coming week. To learn more about our featured partners, please visit our partner page

Google Analytics Enhanced Ecommerce is built to help you understand your customers and optimize your sales conversions. Combined with Shopping Campaign reports, Google Analytics is a complete solution for ecommerce businesses.  For more information about how to implement this feature in your Google Analytics account, please see the documentation available in our help center.

More about our partners

Shopify is a commerce platform that allows anyone to easily sell online, at their retail location, and everywhere in between. Shopify offers a professional online storefront, a payment solution to accept credit cards, a point of sale system to power retail sales and a card reader to process credit card transactions through a mobile phone. Shopify currently powers over 120,000 retailers in 150 different countries, including: Tesla Motors, Gatorade, Google, Wikipedia, LA Lakers, CrossFit, and many more. 

PrestaShop is a world industry leader in Open Source solutions for ecommerce, whose mission is to challenge ecommerce limits by developing a powerful solution that is accessible to anyone, anywhere. Through the Open Source software, PrestaShop allows everyone to create online stores quickly, easily and for free. The company currently counts more than 200,000 online stores worldwide, 700,000 community members and over 4 million software downloads.

Blue Acorn is a premium eCommerce agency dedicated to helping retailers and brands achieve revenue growth through a comprehensive, data-driven approach. In order to best support this approach, they became the first Magento Solution Partner in the world to also hold certified partnerships with Google and Optimizely. By integrating data and testing throughout their services, they are able to help their clients make the best decisions possible and further support their best-in-class design, development, and optimization capabilities.

mShopper is a leading mobile commerce platform that allows retailers to create custom, mobile-optimized e-commerce sites designed specifically to increase sales on mobile devices. The integration with Enhanced Ecommerce will provide a dramatic impact on mobile commerce conversions for retailers by delivering superior insight on product sales and overall campaign performance. mShopper recently launched mStore® v4.1 with marketing tools and a performance dashboard to drive conversions and improve sales for customers using mobile devices as well.

Posted by Marcia Jung, Product Manager, on behalf of the Google Analytics team

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Conventional wisdom suggests that the rise of digital is making local retailers obsolete. But the reality is much different—technology actually presents new opportunities to help savvy retailers connect with consumers, drive them to the store and increase sales.

To better understand the impact of smartphones and online information on in-store shopping, Google partnered with Ipsos Media CT and Sterling Brands to conduct an online survey. With this new research, we were able to uncover the real relationship between digital and local retail, as well as debunk three common retail myths.

Myth: Search results only send consumers to e-commerce sites.
The Reality: Search results are a powerful way to drive consumers to stores.

Many retailers believe that when shoppers look for products online, they limit their research strictly to e-commerce websites. In reality, three out of four shoppers who find local information in search results helpful are more likely to visit stores. When information about store location, hours and product availability is clearly communicated in a local search ad, shoppers are actually inspired to make the in-store purchase.

Head to Think With Google to learn more retail myths and uncover the realities about technology’s impact on local shopping.

Posted:
(Cross-posted from the Google Analytics Blog)

Plan ahead.

Over the past few years, we’ve seen the holiday rush begin earlier and earlier. And we’ve also noticed that the shopping frenzy is extending beyond the traditional season, with transaction rates in 2013 boasting lifts even after Christmas. These trends make for a lot of opportunity for online retailers, but you need to play your cards right. The most important thing you can do to ensure seasonal success is to plan your digital strategy now.  We’ve analyzed transaction behavior from a portion of our Google Analytics accounts over the 2013 holiday season to develop a guide for seasonal success. 

Which days drive the most transactions?
In order to develop a successful holiday retail strategy, it’s important to first understand the days that drive the most sales for your business. Once you understand this, you can craft a strategy that optimizes your media and promotion not only for these days, but for the entire holiday season.

As digital retailers are well aware, Cyber Monday is THE digital shopping day of the year.  It generates the most transactions of any single day and, in 2013, saw a transaction rate lift of 170% over average.  In second place is Black Friday, a day that has increased in digital importance over the last three years. By 2013, the transaction rate on Black Friday was 114% higher than average.  Beyond these two stars, the table below shows you the top days in 2013 by transaction volume and the lift in transactions rates on each day.


In general, beyond Cyber Monday and Black Friday, the Mondays and Tuesdays before Christmas in December tend to generate the highest volume of transactions.  Interestingly, the highest transaction days are not correlated to the days with the most sessions (traffic to your site), so avoid using the top session days as a proxy for the top transaction days.


How can I drive sales on the top transaction days?
The holiday season generates some of the highest transaction rate spikes and the lowest dips for the entire year. In order to drive digital sales successfully, it’s important that you adjust your bids for auction-based media, such as search ads, appropriately to account for higher transaction rates on key dates and throughout the season.  As you navigate the holiday season, use the lift in transaction rates over the average transaction rate as your bid multiplier for auction-based media (learn more about bid adjustments). This adjustment schedule reflects the increased value of clicks that are more likely to convert, and helps ensure that you stay ahead of competitors and  get in front of the right consumers. The transaction rate lift for the top days are shown in the table above, while the chart below gives you an idea of the lift for the weeks surrounding the holiday season.


As you can see, the top days generate some of the biggest transaction rate lifts, but there’s also plenty of upside in the weeks preceding Thanksgiving as well as right before Christmas.  A smart retailer will generate a bid schedule for the entire season, starting 4-5 weeks before the Thanksgiving holiday.

Marketing to consumers is notoriously tricky and often trend-driven, making the holiday season a difficult and uncertain time for retailers. However, with proper pre-season preparation, digital retailers can set themselves up for seasonal success in 2014.  If you’re a Google Analytics user, you can tailor this analysis and approach to your business, using your own data and the data available in our benchmarking tool.  For more strategies for the holiday season, check out our holiday tips blog post and best practices checklist.


About the Data
In order to perform this analysis,we looked at billions of sessions across millions of Google Analytics accounts. We used session and transaction trends; and we looked at the percentage of sessions that included a transaction to calculate transaction rates. The data includes only accounts that have authorized Google to share website data in an anonymous way (read more). For questions, comments, or praise please contact us at gaqi@google.com 


Posted by Daniel Waisberg and Jocelyn Whittenburg from the Google Analytics team.

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Are you an Elsa, Olaf or Anna? Judging by the top trending searches for Halloween costumes on Google, you’re going to see a lot of each on the streets this October 31. The characters from Disney’s animated blockbuster make up three of the top five trending costumes this year.

While last year’s list featured popular choices from TV (Breaking Bad) and the viral video “What Does The Fox Say,” movie-themed costumes are dominating this year. Maleficent and Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtle costumes round out the top five. Costumes from Guardians of the Galaxy, Captain America and The Avengers take places 6 through 8, while video-game Assassin's Creed and pet costume were the only non-movie themed costumes trend to make the Top 10.



With more than half of their traffic coming from Google, online retailer BuyCostumes.com anticipated the surge in interest around these top costumes and tailored their Google Search advertising to ensure that they’re connecting with consumers as they’re looking for this season’s popular costumes.

“We watch the trends with a keen eye, especially around this time of year,” said Jennifer Dominiquini, chief marketing officer for BuySeasons, Inc., parent company to BuyCostumes.com. “It is important to us to leverage the trends and ensure those searching for them are finding our brand in their search.”

Trick or Doggy Treat? 

It’s no surprise that canine companions frequently join the family as they take to the streets, going door to door, but more and more people are looking to incorporate their dogs into the Halloween spirit. Searches for dog costumes are trending nearly 15% higher than last year, and one pet even costume managed to crack the Top Ten trending costumes. At number 9 on this is ‘spider dog’, no doubt inspired by the viral video sensation ‘Mutant Giant Spider Dog’, which has generated more than 99 million views on YouTube since the beginning of September. BuyCostumes.com has been seeing a surge in interest around pet costumes this season, with people also looking for ways to incorpoate their animal friends into themed costumes for the whole family.

Halloween, The DIY Way 

Halloween is one of those holidays filled with the do-it-yourself spirit, particularly if the DIY costume and general Halloween trends on Google Search are any indication:


But nowhere is the the DIY Halloween spirit more alive than on YouTube. Last year, nearly one out of three Halloween costume searches on YouTube were for DIY costumes. Searches for DIY costumes on YouTube grew more than 200% in 2013 compared to the previous year.

One DIY area on YouTube that sees a significant seasonal spike every year for Halloween is in makeup. Searches for makeup on YouTube hits a high each October as millions of people search for Halloween inspiration and tips.

Whether you’re looking to show off your inner Elsa, are searching for the best outfit for Fido, or are looking to wow your friends with your DIY prowess, there are tricks and treats available for everyone this Halloween.

Posted by Danielle Bowers, Data & Trends Manager

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(Cross-posted from the Google Commerce Blog)

This holiday shopping season will be our most connected ever, with devices at our fingertips helping us hunt for deals in short moments—whether it’s on a laptop at work or on a smartphone right before bed. In fact, one third of all shopping searches on Google happen between the hours of 10 p.m. and 4 a.m.1 That’s because shopping doesn’t stop once the mall closes. Today’s shopper spends more time than ever researching purchases online at all hours of the day; we’ve gone from midnight snacking to midnight shopping.

To understand how digital trends will impact this year’s shopping season, we conducted our annual Holiday Shopper Intentions research with Ipsos MediaCT, surveying consumers on their shopping behavior. We found that people are shopping earlier, using online video to help with research, and turning to smartphones as personal shopping assistants.

Black Friday is becoming a month-long event
People are starting their research early and retailers are stretching Black Friday promotions across November, changing the focus from just one day to a month-long event. More than half of consumers surveyed said they’ll start their research before Thanksgiving, with 26% of shoppers having started before Halloween.2

Shoppers are also spending more time consulting more sources before making a decision. In 2010, shoppers used five sources of information on average before purchasing, but that has more than doubled with shoppers consulting at least 12 sources last year.3 This means that October through November has become a crucial period for retailers to reach shoppers online, being present with offers, information, how-tos and content.


Online shopping is the new window shopping
Shoppers are going online for inspiration at all points of their day, not just to research specific products but to see what their friends and favorite influencers are wearing. Sites like YouTube and Pinterest have become the new window displays, and a new generation of fashion influencers like Bethany Mota are influencing shopping decisions.

Shopping-related content on YouTube, from unboxing videos to product reviews, is becoming an important part of the holiday research process and is trending up year over year. Haul videos—or the YouTube equivalent of telling your best friend about your latest shopping purchases—spike during key shopping events and hit their peak during Black Friday weekend. Videos with "haul" in the title have have been watched more than 1.1B times on YouTube, and views are up 1.7x this year compared to last year.4


And shoppers aren’t just using YouTube for research ahead of time, they’re also looking up videos while they’re in stores to help them make decisions. One in four shoppers say they've used YouTube to search for a video related to a product they're considering while in a store.5

Your phone: The ultimate shopping assistant
One of the biggest enablers for shopping throughout the day is our mobile devices. Our research found that 75% of smartphone shoppers plan to use their phones in-store this holiday season.6 It used to be that shoppers came to the store with little knowledge, and the sales associate educated them on products. Now shoppers are coming into stores teeming with information, and are turning to their phones as personal shopping assistants. One in three shoppers use their smartphones to find info instead of asking store employees.7

We’ve found that when retailers understand mobile behavior in stores, they can meet shoppers online with helpful information. In fact, 46% of shoppers who use their phone in a store still end up making a purchase, an 11 point increase from 2011.8 Consumers are coming into stores more purposeful and informed than before, and savvy retailers are turning this into an opportunity.

Want to know more about the 2014 holiday shopper? Check out more research and case studies at Think with Google.

Posted by Beth Thomas, Industry Development Manager, Google




1 Google Shopping search data, July - September 2014
2 Google / Ipsos MediaCT 2014 Holiday Shopping Intentions Study, September 2014
3 Google and Inmar, 2013
4 Google data, January 2013 - September 2014, Indexed views on YouTube
5 Google Consumer Survey, September 2014
6 Google / Ipsos MediaCT 2014 Holiday Shopping Intentions Study, September 2014
7 Google Mobile In-Stores study May 2013
8 Google Nielsen, November 2013