Early Bird Guide to Black Friday

Since 2017 has been a year of retail reinvention and consolidation, expect intense competition for consumer wallets this holiday season, which is coming up fast. There’s no time to waste: Now is the time to finalize your Black Friday 2017 strategy because this is the most important (and profitable) time of year for online businesses.

Confidently prepare for this massive global shopping extravaganza by applying the tips in this guide to outmaneuver retail giants by making smart, data-driven decisions to avoid risk, and maximize your online traffic and sales.

Black Friday is a bigger deal than ever

Although Black Friday falls on November 24 this year, the event has evolved to extend far beyond one single day. Consumers now expect pre-Black Friday sales and “[m]arkdowns start as early as September 1, at 16% full-price, then creep up to a discount of 46% before November 1, and 56% after November 1” at early holiday sales events.[i]

Just how big is Black Friday?

In 2016, the shopping event surpassed experts’ estimates, with total sales of $3.3 billion, representing 22% percent growth, year-over-year. Mobile accounted for $1.2 billion, a 33% increase from the previous year. Amazon’s mobile orders on Thanksgiving topped 2015’s Cyber Monday. In addition, more than 70% of Walmart’s website traffic on Thanksgiving was mobile, and 60% of the retailer’s Black Friday online orders came from mobile devices.[ii]

Whether consumers seek electronics, cosmetics or apparel, they love to score great deals on bestselling products. They increasingly turn to online shopping to avoid the hysteria of crowded shopping malls and they’re shopping online earlier than before.

Here are several ways you can prepare now to maximize your Black Friday 2017 online sales:

Get the (holiday sales) party started:

Supersize your Black Friday sales with your own Cyber November campaign. Jumpstart your Black Friday sales by announcing online discounts and promotions early in November to get on shoppers’ radars before your rivals do.

Shoppers are less willing to wait if they have the option to get their shopping started. In 2015, 57% of consumers already had started their holiday buying by early November; the National Retail Federation reports 40% of shoppers had started looking for gifts by Halloween.[iii]

These stats explain why, last November, Amazon began 35 consecutive days of “Black Friday” bargains, to give shoppers low prices before and after Thanksgiving.[iv] Other retailers that got a jumpstart on sales include Walmart, Macy’s and Target.

Get in their face:

Showcase your best new products on your e-commerce homepage to speed up product discovery. Also emphasize the most popular, wished-for and well-reviewed products in your online assortment, which consumers are more likely to buy, based on sales histories, and sales data for products that are exact matches and similar matches to your offerings. Last year, Sephora’s Black Friday e-commerce campaign featured a wide assortment of exclusive sales, starting with select products the retailer showcased on the homepage.


Sephora black friday campaign
Best face forward: Last year, Sephora’s Black Friday campaign showcased exclusive products on the e-commerce homepage.


Check out the competitors:

Reviewing competitive assortment data can let you know your rivals’ best selling products. Compare your assortment to theirs to determine whether you have any significant product gaps – and which products can help you stand out and sell. Identify which of your products are unique and exclusive, as they can give you a competitive advantage and loyalty. Use your marketing campaigns to show how you’re different, and how you compare in popular categories. Walmart matched some of its competitors’ best Black Friday deals on electronics and toys a full week early with a pre-Black Friday sale. Sale items included Samsung TVs and an iPad, plus the retailer threw in a $100 Walmart gift card.[v]

Make sure the price is right:

For more competitive insights, use data to understand your rivals’ pricing and discount strategies – and how your pricing strategy compares. You may need to adjust it before Black Friday to sell more while protecting your margins.

In recent years, retailers have used dynamic pricing, which means they set flexible prices based on current market demands by constantly monitoring competitive. Why do retailers use dynamic pricing? To combat consumer price sensitivity, 57% of Forbes survey participants say dynamic pricing is more effective than price matching.[vi]

Exclusive Report: Can Dynamic Pricing Save Retailers From the Discounting Drug?  Get Your Free Guide 

On Black Friday, Amazon changes its prices of highly competitive items multiple times per day, and the pattern of those price changes sometimes matches the doorbuster pricing of store-based retailers, where between 8am-10am ET, for example, the price is 25% off, and then rises to only 10% off after 10 am.

Think mobile first:

Ensure you have an attractive, responsive web design that adapts to the different needs of consumers using tablets and smartphones. Recent figures show mobile accounted for 40 percent of holiday sales, with 29 percent from smartphones, and 11 percent for tablets.[vii] In a sophisticated mobile marketing campaign, IKEA used a mobile app that uses augmented reality to help consumers imagine what a piece of furniture would look like in their home and ensure it fits their space. More than 6 million users installed IKEA’s app, it was the number one download and it engaged consumers nearly three times as long as the retailer’s printed catalogue.[viii]

Get shoppers to think “Yes!”:

Review your e-commerce website analytics to know which webpages make shopping cart abandonment most likely, which products shoppers browse but do not buy, and investigate how you can make the user experience more positive and appealing to boost conversions. Also offer an easy, hassle-free returns policy to boost consumer confidence and their willingness to buy online. Nordstrom, Kohl’s and REI are renowned for their industry-leading, hassle-free returns policies.[ix]

Prevent out-of-stocks:

Ensure your warehouses are stocked with all your bestselling products. Your forecasts should be based on historic sales trends, as well as real-time market insights to know what shoppers want now.

Popular products during the holiday season are electronics, smartwatches and toys; however, many companies faced out-of-stock issues and retail storage issues. In fact, products under $300 were 20% more likely to be out-of-stock.[x]


According to a report by the Wall Street Journal, on Black Friday, Toys “R” Us’ website was in stock 62% of the time on the 100 top selling toys. While that’s below the 95% recommended service level due to it being peak sales season, it’s on par with many other retailers. Wal-Mart Stores had a 63% in-stock rate, and Target had a 51% rate.[xi][xii]

Make online payment easy:

A seamless, fast payment process will encourage more online shoppers to complete their purchases. Also, since online shoppers can come from anywhere, consider offering global payment options that extend beyond Visa and Mastercard, including Apple Pay, WeChat Pay and Alipay, which are increasingly popular among affluent Asian shoppers in particular. Luxury apparel retailers Coach and Burberry offer WeChat as a payment option, as this social network is massive in China and includes integrated marketplaces for online shopping.[xiii]

Go the extra mile:

Online shoppers now expect fast and free shipping on major shopping days like Cyber Monday and they expect the option of next day, or even same-day, delivery, regardless of the delivery method they choose. Last year, Best Buy offered free shipping with no minimum purchase requirement.[xiv]

Keep the buzz going:

Just because Black Friday is in November doesn’t mean shoppers are done all their shopping. (Some people start on Christmas Eve!) Extend your sales period into December, as shoppers often still need last-minute holiday gifts, discounts and fast delivery ahead of the Christmas rush. To maximize sales excitement last year, apparel retailer Farfetch offered online sales from Thanksgiving Day until the end of the calendar year.[xv] Also, Amazon offered a new deal every five minutes (!) between Black Friday and December 22.[xvi]

End the year strong. Start planning now by apply proven tips for a successful Black Friday sales strategy. Using these tips can help you outsmart the big guys, like Amazon, Walmart and Target, so you stay relevant and the gain omnichannel flexibility you need to succeed in online retail in time for Black Friday.

We’ll be up looking at the data while you’re chasing bigger targets. Beat them at their research.

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[i] Rae, Haniya. Bricks Versus Clicks: The Black Friday And Cyber Monday Breakdown. Forbes. November 25, 2016.
[ii] Perez, Sarah. Black Friday online sales to hit a record-breaking $3 billion, over $1 billion from mobile. TechCrunch. November 25, 2016.

[iii] Popomaronis, Tom. 35 Days Of Deals: Amazon Just Turned Black Friday Into Black Month. Forbes. November 21, 2016.
[iv] Ibid.
[v] Walmart really doesn’t want you to shop at Best Buy or Target this Black Friday. Consumer Reports. November 19, 2017.
[vi] Baird, Nikki. Dynamic Pricing: When Should Retailers Bother? Forbes. April 18, 2017.
[vii] Perez, Sarah. Black Friday online sales to hit a record-breaking $3 billion, over $1 billion from mobile. TechCrunch. November 25, 2016.
[viii] Lanzarini, Aurore. Mobile Marketing Campaign – IKEA Catalogue App. Imaginarium. November 25, 2016.
[ix] Kukura, Joe. 7 Stores With the Best Return Policies. NerdWallet. December 8, 2016.
[x] Black Friday round-up: US shoppers spend $3.34bn online but high street sales fall 10%. Net Imperative. November 28, 2016.
[xi] Lim, Vera. Toys“R”Us: How out-of-stock situations are killing the toy giant. Trade Gecko. January 22, 2016.
[xii] How Out-of-Stock Inventory is Killing Toys’‘R’‘Us. Supply Chain 24/7. February 10, 2016.
[xiii] Williams, Gemma A. WeChat Stores Are China’s Latest Luxury Craze. Business of Fashion. June 5, 2017.
[xiv] Dengler, Phil. Best Buy To Offer Free Shipping With No Minimum Order Size for The 2016 Holiday Season. BestBlackFriday.com. October 25, 2016.
[xv] Hindmarch, Anya. Farfetch Black Friday Sale Includes Bags Up To 50% Off. Spotted Fashion. November 25, 2017.
[xvi] Ibid.

Summer 2017 Fashion Sales Report

The obvious and not-so-obvious winners of this year’s July summer sales.

Before our tan lines could fade, our inboxes were filled with promo newsletters talking about the last of season’s sales, announcing final reductions. This time of the year has always been bittersweet- between packing up our grills and laundering our swimsuits we’re hard at crunching Sales data, pulling up an analysis of what people have been buying off their screens. Was it all pink? Are denim cut-offs over? How did the 80’s one-piece do? How much was the US into straw bags?

But more importantly, the questions you really want to know:

How much pink did your competition sell?

Is anyone offering better deals on yellow sundresses?

Did you, perhaps, undersell your 80’s inspired swimwear?

Could you have avoided lost sales by stocking up more on straw bags?

Let’s go through them.

Fashion Trends that paid off

Stripes ruled. A neat 20% in-stock spike in May-June, of which 18.5% was out-of-stock by end of July, says so. Stripes at fast-fashion retailers and mass brands sold at an average 28% discount, while discounts at aspirational brands like Madewell & JCrew maxed out at 11%. Luxury fashion had to sell the hardest at 53% average discount.

Speaking of stripes, the surprise winner this summer was the striped one-piece swimsuit which made up for 10% of swimwear assortment between May to July. For a pattern that’s not the most flattering style for various body groups, stripes did pretty well in the swimwear category. The highest discounted striped swimwear went at 78% discount on Shopbop. Solid & ruffled one-pieces came close, averaging at a 46% discount.

stripe one piece swimsuit

The most stocked accessories this summer were in straw (or wicker, or raffia, or basket-they came by different names). Does this mean they sold well?

Not necessarily.

We didn’t see a remarkable sold-out rate for the material that was one of the key trends of Summer ‘17. Especially in bags. Footwear did slightly better, with espadrille flats being one of the hottest selling items.  While straw bags made up for 26% of out-of-stock bags by August, espadrilles made up for 40%, (although they went for half-price in the sale).

Another popular trend that worked well was millennial pink of course. But another color did better. While 25% of tops & dresses in pink were sold-out by August last week, 39% of the out-of-stock chunk went out in white. White was also a winner in shoes, mini crossbody, and sunglasses. Pink topped in the dresses category, however, at an average 15% lower discount than white.

Trends that didn’t quite take off

If you go through this year’s summer promotions, there’s some big talk about flared silhouettes replacing the skinny fit. But apparently, skinny still seems to be around, albeit with a waning interest. Cropped/cut-off jeans took away the price for summer best sellers, in the end. They made up for 67% of the sales by end of July, averaging at 51% discount. While fall catalogs are generously filled with flared jeans, it remains to be seen if they become big in 2017.

Victorian lace, especially in tops, seemed to be a handful for summer it seems. While 27% spike in stocks was found in the first week of July, only 9% of lace tops went out on discount, meaning they were not a sale favorite exactly. Broderie Anglaise, a fancy name for cotton cutwork embroidery, was a surprise newcomer in peak summer and it did much better within a significantly shorter shelf life.

Chunky platforms, in theory, made a lot of sense in the beginning of summer, but their performance was pretty lackluster by the end. The ones that did well were categorized as lace-up platform espadrilles, selling out at the lowest average discount of 25%. Suede mules from last fall continued to gain more heat, especially in open-toe iterations.

What you may have missed

Some categories may have sounded less obvious as contenders to focus on, but there’s a lesson in them for retailers for next summer, or sooner, for the ongoing Labour Day sales.

Golf apparel in the US has been flying off shelves, so is athletic wear for water sports. If swimsuits are key summer sale items, those who stocked up athletic beachwear would have made a good dough.

Knit sneakers went at lower discounts than any other sneakers, a good 30% lower.

knit sneakers variety


Red florals were hot sellers too, so were denim tops, jackets, sets & dresses. Denim overalls made up for 63% of sales among jumpsuits & rompers. They may just have dethroned the default festival & beach favorite: denim cutoff shorts, which were stocked in fewer quantities compared to last two year, making up for only 10.6% of bottoms between May to August.

Final goodbyes

Labor Day sales would be a good time to get rid of some of the leftovers from summer. Particularly those ideal for fall transition, like the lightweight trench coats, sleeveless turtlenecks, leather/PVC button-down skirts, even satin shoes. Amp up promos on items that hit the spot between summer nostalgia and fall readiness. Looking at you, you sweet Victorian lace top with ruffled neck.

We can help you with our Trending Module, you will feel certain, confident and clear about what shoppers want. Informative big data insights show you emerging retail trends and patterns so you adjust to consumer preferences. Contact us  for more information.

How To Analyze And Identify Ways To Improve Existing Retail Financial Operations


Online retail businesses have to a lot to worry about and fight against but perhaps nothing quite screams danger as the financial aspect. Shallow pockets and thin resources, overwhelming competition from both big brand-name businesses and and smaller online retailers, declining sales and so on – these are just some of the challenges faced on a regular basis. Thus, it’s only natural to try and squeeze an extra dollar here and there out of the existing financial operations. Naturally, there are some quick fixes that turn things around but these are all short-sighted solutions. Any online retail store built on a sound financial basis knows better than this but not every business has the benefit of that insight.

So, what can you do?

With growing pressure to generate better sales and minimize costs to increase profits, you must center on creating more revenue from your existing operations while continuing to add new ones to the fold. Easier said than done, right? Not necessarily as there are some things to consider in order to improve your retail store’s financial operations. Don’t worry, we’ll let you in on what you need to do so you can do right by yourself. Ready? Let’s go.

  1. Forecast your future

To get a good sense of how your money is flowing around and what the future holds in that regard, what you need is a financial forecast. Being prepared for the future endeavors, especially in the case of growing businesses, allows the power of foresight to know what to expect and how to deal with unfavorable movements, which are all but bound to happen in the tense retail market. A financial forecast is one of the best practices for small and medium retail online businesses to gain meaningful insights on both a monthly or weekly basis. It will allow them to identify peaks in expenses in time of their most selling periods and show where income will be the highest. There is a good, accurate and fast way to do it, which brings us to our next point…

  1. Leverage technology by using retail analytics

If there is one thing that makes life on this planet much easier, it’s technology. Running your financial operations can also be much easier if you utilize it the right way. In the case of the aforementioned forecast, the process itself could be as simple as paper and pencil or a digitized version of it in the form of an Excel sheet. Or, you can opt for retail analytics software to get a more formal and accurate result. Naturally, two of the three methods are time-consuming and largely inefficient but are also deemed as more financially acceptable solutions. Looking long-term, they are also not sustainable, something that modern tech puts maximum effort in.

On its own, technology is an investment with significant proportions. However, what you get in return far surpasses the investment-to-benefit ratio. For instance, transferring your modus operandi on cloud simplifies and streamlines the whole business operation and puts in on a higher level. By “upgrading” to cloud technology in the form of retail analytics, you make your data open for multiple users from different locations to access the data and work on it. The software helps minimize the risks of human assumptions that can trigger margin loss, overstock situations, and missing the boat on market trends. That directly impacts the efficiency while reducing labor costs. And that’s just one example out of the many features retail analytics software possesses..

In retail, it’s imperative to know as much about the market as possible. In that regard, you can leverage technology to use data analytics to improve operational performance across all channels. Having insights into store-level demands in real time makes sure your bestselling items remain in stock. Optimize your pricing by keeping a close eye on competitive pricing and discount strategies. From the marketing standpoint, gaining visibility into promotional performance can help you adapt your strategy, while also benefiting your forecasting and recognizing various market movements like seasonal trends, hot items and different opportunities to maximize revenue.

Ultimately, this translates to a win-win scenario – more satisfied customers and reduced cost for you. The bottom line here is that using technology can help your retail store in a variety of ways, from improving productivity by automating a bunch of manual tasks to helping you better oversee your inventories and everything in between. Speaking of inventory…

  1. Perform inventory segmentation

Because of the large scope and competitiveness of the retail market, a business is better off segmenting its inventory. Why? Because an inventory is not just a statistical overview. Looking at it, you want to gain insights into your sales. Does your cash flow revolve around products that don’t sell on a regular basis? Can you use that money to create better profits through other better-selling items? There could be lots of money tied up in inventory without actual good reason. It’s all about meeting customers’ demand and needs.

Because the way online stores function, much of their data insights are broken into pieces, spread across the organization. Collecting that data into a single, comprehensive view allows better financial results because you get a scoop on things like growth, consumer trends and else. By uniting and integrating all of its data into a single source, an online retailer is set to reap the benefits of knowing its most important competitive performance metrics, as well as make better overall business decisions. And faster, too, as nothing beats on-the-spot insights.

inventory management in retail store

An example of inventory management in a retail store

Source: LinkedIn 


Retailing is as much about local mindset as it is about thinking globally, with the whole world as a selling stage. As such, it provides ample opportunity and company, which is where handling of your financial operations comes into play. A retail business simply must understand its financial numbers and what they are saying about the state of the business. Along with financial statements, business analysis and intelligence are key to making that happen. Going the modern tech route allows you the dissect all the financial angles of your operations, while also providing you with the benefit of time to have other bright ideas that can improve your business’ standing. That way, you will be able to devise an accurate business plan and hit all the right spots.

8 Retail Sales Strategies That Drive Success

Retail sales strategies can make or break your brand. Select the wrong approach and watch your business flounder as it wastes money on useless marketing ploys. The right strategy, by contrast, can yield success you never imagined, assisting even struggling businesses. So which retail sales strategies can infuse your business with new life and impressive profits? Try one of these eight winning tactics. Continue reading “8 Retail Sales Strategies That Drive Success”

Millennials vs. Baby Boomers: Retail Sales Strategies That Appeal to Both

For decades, marketers have spent every last cent they had tailoring their retail sales strategies to appeal to Baby Boomers. Boomers, once the largest generation, have now been overtaken by Millennials, who are the largest living segment of the population. Millennials, who are roughly ages 18-36, are the generation everyone loves to hate, dismissing them as lazy, whiny, and unwilling to work. Continue reading “Millennials vs. Baby Boomers: Retail Sales Strategies That Appeal to Both”

7 Pricing Strategies to Supercharge your eCommerce Christmas Sales

Price matters. In fact, it matters more than any other factor to at least 60% of consumers. More and more consumers are turning to eCommerce platforms for holiday gifts. In 2015, Cyber Monday sales alone totaled more than $3 billion. That being said, pricing your merchandise right may be the only thing standing between you and skyrocketing success. Continue reading “7 Pricing Strategies to Supercharge your eCommerce Christmas Sales”

Ecommerce Holiday Shopping Predictions for 2016

As retailers continue to lament the nosedive retail sales have taken, eCommerce is a bright spot amid an increasingly bleak retail outlook. Sales are notoriously difficult to predict, especially online, but 2015 can teach us much about what to expect in 2016. Make sure your brand is ready for the season with these 2016 eCommerce holiday shopping predictions.

Online Sales Are Booming

Online sales are growing like never before. In 2015, eCommerce grew by more than 13%. On Cyber Monday alone, consumers shelled out more than $3 billion. And retailers who think that only brick and mortar stores benefit from Black Friday should think again. Consumers spent $2.74 billion on Black Friday in 2015.

Consumers appreciate the convenience and privacy of online shopping. They don’t have to deal with pushy sales representatives, can spend hours curating the perfect shopping cart, and don’t have to fight lines or traffic. For your business to capitalize on these preferences, you need to make the eCommerce sales process as seamless and stress-free as possible. That demands an optimized site, clear pricing, and detailed information about each of your products. A helpful live chat can close the customer service gap, and may even close the deal on a few extra purchases.

Consumers Buy for Themselves, Too

Ecommerce retailers who market only giftable products make a potentially fatal error. Consumers shop for themselves during the season of frenzied purchasing, spending an average of $139. Use this trend to your advantage by offering a variety of sales, including on items that customers typically only purchase for themselves. Because consumers often purchase gifts that they’d like to receive themselves, buy one get one deals can be especially profitable. Consider also offering gift certificates or discounts on a future purchase to customers who shop during the holidays. This is an investment in future sales that can help you start 2017 on a high note.

Discounts Are Waning

Big box retailers entered the 2015 holidays season with leaner inventories than in previous years. That trend may continue in 2016. This means that retailers have fewer incentives to offer major promotions since they don’t need to offload lots of inventory.

This means that businesses which offer incredible sales may pull consumers away from big box retailers. It also means that your sales might not have to be as big as you think to get the attention of customers. No matter what eCommerce pricing strategy you use, make sure to build excitement in the weeks leading up to a sale. Customers can’t participate in sales they don’t know about.

Some Days Are Bigger Than Others

Cyber Monday and Black Friday are the perennial favorites of discount-hungry consumers, but they’re not the only big shopping days. Plan your sales around other popular days and watch the business flood in. A Google Analytics study points to the shopping days on which ads most often lead to purchases. Those are:

  • The second Monday in December (December 12th in 2016)
  • The second Tuesday in December (December 13th in 2016)
  • The third Monday in December (December 19th in 2016)

Since your ads are more likely to translate into conversions on these days, plan a more aggressive marketing strategy, and don’t shy away from spending a little extra cash.

Mobile Shopping is Big

Consumers are increasingly shopping on mobile devices. If your site isn’t optimized for mobile, if your apps don’t work well, or if product descriptions disappear on your site’s mobile page, you’re losing business for no good reason.

Consumers often build a shopping cart on their desktop, then buy on the go. And sometimes they curate their cart on the go, then purchase at home. Ensure your site can easily switch between mobile and a desktop by making it easy for customers to set up an account that saves their cart.

Shopping Lasts Longer Than You Think

Very few consumers finish their holiday shopping on Black Friday or Cyber Monday. Indeed, many continue a shopping spree well into the new year. Accommodate this trend by continuing sales after the holiday, and offering incentives for consumers who want to return purchases or buy something for themselves.

People Purchase an Idea

The advent of sites such as Pinterest make it clear that consumers aren’t just purchasing objects. They’re purchasing ideas, and often entire lifestyles. You will make more sales if your products fit neatly into consumers’ dreams for their lives. Selling products that work well together — shoes and bags with the same print, a bookshelf that matches a baby crib — helps consumers envision how a product will work in real life. It also makes your products ripe for use on sites such as Pinterest, where a wider audience with a large disposable income may see them.

Last-Minute Shopping and Fast Delivery

The advent of free or cheap overnight delivery on sites such as Amazon means that more consumers are waiting till the last minute to make their purchases. Compete with these sites by shipping items quickly and offering affordable last-minute shipping. Retailers that delay shipping for days, that don’t provide tracking, or that routinely deliver items later than promised stand to lose out in an increasingly competitive market. Consumers want their merchandise now, and if they have to wait, they’ll go somewhere else.

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9 Retail Sales Strategies You Can’t Be Without

In any business, strategy is often the difference between a soaring success and a futile effort to connect with the customers you crave. However, with its continuing evolution and increasing competition in recent years, the eCommerce space might be even more reliant on the strength of retail sales strategies in order to capture business.

After all, the way you price, present and market your online products defines the way in which consumers perceive the value you offer and guides their decision to make a purchase or wait for one of your competitors to scoop up the opportunity.

The Pricing Is Right

The most obvious obstacle standing in the way of more sales is often the pricing. Customers are rightfully discerning of how they spend their hard-earned money, and it’s up to you to decide how best to convince them that your product is worth a try. Here are a few must-have pricing strategies you should be using to entice customers.

  • Loss-leader pricing: Selling your product below market value may initially seem like a no-win scenario. Yet, conventional wisdom isn’t always useful when it comes to the sales game. This approach, known as loss-leader pricing, opens up the potential for future marketing to customers and presents the chance to boost the average revenue per user, encouraging customers to add more items to their carts. (Find out how you can automate this process.)
  • Bundle pricing: One of the most widely used pricing formats, this one simply relies on grouping related items together to jointly persuade customers to make a purchase. By combining multiple products into a simple bundle, you’re able to streamline the decision to buy and create the perception of increased collective value.
  • Personalized pricing: Because of all the data out there, you may very well be able todetermine optimal prices for each specific user. Using a number of different factors, this system creates a real-time understanding of a customer’s purchase history, product searches and customer loyalty. Personalized pricing is often best employed with regular customers or in concert with newly available products.

Offers They Can’t Refuse

Though the pricing associated with a specific product could ultimately make or break a potential purchase, don’t forget to finetune the offers themselves. How you present a product to consumers can be just as instrumental in closing a purchase as pricing. So let’s review some tips you can incorporate into your product offers as soon as possible.

  • Free shipping: Companies like Amazon have set the tone within the industry, and now customers all but expect free shipping to be on the table. Perhaps it’s a blanket offer, or it might be one that only applies when users hit a certain minimum purchase price. Regardless, shipping options like this one are among the biggest incentives to buy from one site over another. It’s not an area that your business can afford to ignore.
  • Featured products: When you present too many options to consumers, the result can overwhelm them to the point that a purchase decision actually becomes more difficult to achieve. By focusing in on just a single product on your homepage, you’ll have more space to highlight its benefits and be able to more successfully guide consumers through to checkout.
  • Urgent offer: There’s a reason that so many retailers rely on impulse purchases to boost their bottom line. No matter what your product is, urgency sells. The very fact that a limited-time offer might slip past consumers is enough to drive sales up, especially if you have done your homework from a marketing and pricing standpoint. Act now to make this technique part of your regular strategy.

Revisit the Marketing

Long before customers can ever even be presented with your products (no matter the pricing), you must first establish a sense of trust and confidence with them. Customer relationships have to start somewhere, and luckily, several key strategies can help you boost awareness and spread word about your business and the products you provide.

  • Customer connections: Although social media should be a key part of your marketing efforts, it’s even more essential that all of your communications with customers centers on engaging them in a conversation. Today’s consumers are too savvy for cold sales pitches to remain effective. Get to know your customers, and hone in on the benefits your products can offer them.
  • The omnichannel approach: Mobile technology has necessitated the importance of a more multifaceted way to tackle your marketing. Tapping into the current omnichannel philosophy, you can unite your desktop website, mobile-optimized site, mobile application and other venues customers use to engage with your business. The possibilities for boosting sales and cross-promoting are limitless.
  • Content marketing: We can’t say enough about the advantages of implementing content marketing into your business. The internet is so often used as a free source of information that creating blogs, whitepapers, ebooks, videos and endless other forms of content is undoubtedly one of the best ways to hook consumers and keep them with you for the long haul.

For more details about how you can tailor your retail sales approach to optimize the success and reach of your business, check out our eBook, “A Comprehensive Guide to Competitive Online Retail Pricing Strategies.”

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Spikes & Dips July 2016: State of E-commerce in the US

What is our Spikes & Dips Series?

Intelligence Node’s Spikes & Dips series tracks the retail price change of a basket of products spread across online retailers using our real-time retail analytics software. ‘Spikes & Dips’ covers the top 1000+ leading North American e-commerce retailers and is continuously monitored by proprietary market-monitoring algorithms. Intelligence Node’s algorithm processes approximately 1 Billion products daily and are taken from real-time, live data. All benchmark indexes are tracked in real-time, however, updates will be published in our monthly State of E-commerce newsletter.

The goal of our Spikes and Dips series is to put online retail price movements in the context of macroeconomic factors thus enabling retailers to understand how these macroeconomic factors influence their day-to-day retail pricing strategies.


Number of Products

no of products chart 1


Product Listings online cumulatively dropped by 19% across the major categories. Beauty & Care, Fashion and Home & Décor categories saw the largest decrease at an average of 22% MoM. The electronics category saw minimum decrease of 3% MoM.


Amazon retained top spot with the share of product listings of the entire US catalog going up to nearly one fourth of the combined catalog in July.

Chart 2

Categories where most SKUs were added.

chart 3-1 spikes and dips


65% of the total US catalogue was listed under the categories Fashion and Home & Décor.


Average Price & Discount

We studied the price movements in July 2016 vis a vis June 2016 to understand pricing changes in various verticals. This chart reflects the average price changes in May 2016.

chart 4 spikes and dips

Average Prices increased across all major categories after a steep decline in June. The average price grew by 15% and 14% across these fashion and Home & décor categories respectively. The electronics category surprisingly, remained the only major category with the least increase in average price at 3% MoM.

chart 5 spikes and dips

We studied the retailers who witnessed a rise in average prices. The table shows the % change in the prices by various retailers across categories.

What is Trending?

We looked at various price, discount and catalog movements to discover trends for various categories.

chart 6 spikes and dips

The major categories witnessed a slack increase in trend movement MoM. Beauty & Care was the only category to see a sizable increase of 7% in trend movement MoM. The Food & Grocery category witnessed a 10% MoM decrease in ranking.

chart 7 spikes and dips july


We studied the retailers who witnessed a rise in average prices. The table shows the % change in the prices by various retailers across categories.


Insights by Player: Amazon vs. Walmart

chart 8 spikes and dips july


Prices across all major categories rose significantly on both Amazon and Walmart in July MoM. Amazon witnessed prices higher than those on Walmart across all the major categories with Beauty & Care and Home & Décor at the top of the list. On an average, prices of the major categories on Amazon were 6% higher than those on Walmart.

chart 9 spikes and dips july

On average, the overall price on Amazon was 5% higher than that on Walmart.


The activity stabilised in July, in preparation for the heavy discount season to come next quarter. Retailer focus was on increasing profit margins and adapting to the holiday season. The July Spikes & Dips Series built upon the movements we saw in June, as retailers actively started offering even based discounts and offers.

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Riding the Back-To-School Wave to Retail Success

Anyone who’s been in the retail business knows how important capitalizing on the shopping wave during the back-to-school, or BTS, season is. Depending upon which expert you ask, this potential boom in sales is the 2nd, or 3rd, biggest one during a calendar year.

As summer camps draw to an end, parents start a frenzy of last-minute shopping for school, which, combined with back-to-college shopping, translates to a whopping $68 billion spent. This means that merchandising and marketing strategies, and the ever-important multi-channel shopping experience at retails chain, all need to be tweaked.

Let’s take a closer look and delve deeper into seasonal retailer and e-tailer techniques for riding the back-to-school wave, and what exactly BTS and BTC mean for retailers.

Understanding the Significance of Back-to-School Shopping

The BTS season is a little different from the boost in sales during ‘normal’ holiday seasons. In a nutshell, it’s longer than these other ‘boosted sales’ periods.

Parents may begin their research on products, prices, and promotional offers — usually online — as early as July. They compare the collected data and make their decisions by the month of August, making the purchase around the same period. Last-minute frazzled trips are usually done and dusted by September. This means that retailers have a longer window of potential sales compared to other big sales days, such as (say) Black Friday.

Products that receive a boost during the BTS shopping window include office supplies, apparel, electronics, and books. This long list of products, and the relatively longer sales window, make strategies a little more complicated during the BTS season.

Brick-And-Mortar Stores Rejoice!

As more and more e-tailers take over territory originally occupied by brick-and-mortar retail outlets, you could be forgiven for assuming that retail stores won’t be doing much business. To the contrary, though, it’s these stores that will see more traffic than their online counterparts. While parents will head to their laptops to buy devices and wearables for their kids, all other purchases will get them walking into brick-and-mortar stores.

School supplies such as notebooks, textbooks, and writing materials drive parents to stores, with kids in tow. Stores are the primary choice for parents buying writing materials and books (87%). These are followed — in terms of brick-and-mortar store demand — by shoes (80%), jewelry and accessories (64%), and clothes (64%).

Even as store-based retailers gear up for wars with e-tailers during the upcoming holiday season, they are set to receive a boost in sales from BTS parents.

It’s easy to see why: parents need to shop with their kids to accommodate their preferences, and most feel this is best done at a store, rather than online.

Tailoring Your Strategies Accordingly

Since we’ve already discussed the massive potential of this season, let’s take a look at marketing — and merchandising — strategies designed to help you achieve optimal returns.

First, you’ll need to understand that customers are primarily concerned with who offers the best deals. As a retailer, your first priority would be to think along those lines, and come up with a strategy that helps you put your brand right there. Even Apple — not a brand known for offering sales — caves in during the BTS season, offering discounted ‘student’ and ‘education’ prices.

Clothing giants such as Urban Outfitters and H&M target children from middle-school through college age with carefully planned ads. Take a closer look at textile e-tailer websites, and you’ll probably see smiling school and college kids, with huge blurbs advertising discounts up to 70%.

Take a look at your competitors, and make sure you stay ahead of the game. Build marketing strategies around the BTS shoppers, and you’ll see your sales numbers rise.

E-Commerce-Specific Strategies, Techniques, and Ideas

With so many consumers spending so much of their time online, the retail industry today — while still relying on in-store interactions — has grown to depend on big data and online transactions.

If you haven’t done so already, it’s time to embrace social media platforms like Facebook, Instagram, Pinterest, and Twitter. In fact, that last tweet-broadcasting platform now has a ‘buy’ button, letting you sell products right off your Twitter timeline. If you aren’t aware of what the ‘Twitter’ timeline is, your brand’s social media game is in need of some serious updates this BTS season.

Seeing as 41% of college-goers base their buying decisions on smartphone-based research, M-commerce is another concept that needs to be embraced in order to ride the BTC wave.

Wherever your potential customers spend their smartphone browsing time is where your brand needs to be front and center. For instance, the humor app ‘9GAG’ had 164 million visitors in December 2015 alone. Considering that most of these users are college students on their phones, this is a great place to advertise.

You can use retail analytics software providers such as Intelligence Node to help you build strategies based on big data and competitor trends.

Embracing concepts like new social media platforms and big data, and understanding the significance of a strategy tailored to buyer trends in the BTS season, you’ll be able to capitalize on the buying trends of parents scurrying to stores with school-going kids close on their heels.

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