Bad Weather Is Good for eCommerce Business

The silver lining of our recent bad weather? Great online sales!

The silver lining of our recent bad weather? Great online sales!

The numbers are officially in. According to marketing research giant comScore the 2009 Christmas season 2009 (i.e. November and December) was, despite the economy, a success for online retailers in the US.

The $29.1 billion generated in sales marks a 4% growth from the previous year, exceeded analysts expectations, and helped salvage what was otherwise a sluggish year for retail.

$913,000,000 In 1 Day

To further increase optimism (and we do like to bring you encouraging news), the period also contains the single largest online spending day recorded in history. On Tuesday, the 15th of December, an astounding $913 million was spent shopping online.

What were we all buying?

Unsurprisingly perhaps, classic gift items did very well during the period.

The products that saw the highest increases in sales were consumer electronics, watches and jewelry, which turned out to be the single highest performing category.

Event tickets, computer hardware and books also made a strong showing.

Let’s talk about the weather…

So what made the difference?

According to comScore chairman Gian Fulgoni, it’s a combination of factors including,

“[A] strong late season spending surge, propelled by effective retailer promotions, guaranteed shipping and a major snowstorm on the eastern seaboard that convinced many to shop from the comfort of home”.

That’s right, every cloud has a silver lining and for online retail the devastatingly bad winter weather has definitely paid off.

Getting lucky is fun but can’t be counted on

Of course we cannot control (or count on) external factors like the weather to drive business, nor would we wish continued bad weather on anyone. But it’s interesting to note the variety of factors that drive consumer behaviors – not all of which are in our own hands.

There are always surprising external events one can’t take into account when planning and making predictions (despite the popular expression “expect the unexpected”). What we can continue to do, is work with the more stable elements that have indeed proven successful and keep our business in a state of readiness for quick capitalization of arising opportunities.

What to do in 2010?

While unemployment remains high, and people are still watching their wallets, it’s more important than ever to deliver the best online shopping experience possible, with the highest value to consumers.

Interactivity, a feedback forum, great customer service… these are a few of the things today’s conscientious shoppers are expecting of us. Other than that, in 2010 you must continue to invest in bringing your customers the products they want, in a format that’s accessible to them and at the best prices possible. Remember that price comparison and your competition are always only a click away.

If you’re an online retailer looking to do something new this year, we suggest adding product videos – it may be our business, but video is also the hottest thing going on online these days… 🙂

Image credit: vinayshivakumar