2017: The Year Christmas Became Shoppable

Stuart Elmes

The winter holidays have always been huge in the retail sector. All those gifts, all that food… consumers spend in November and December on a scale unimaginable the rest of the year. For most retail brands, revenue generated during these key months will mean the difference between a successful year and an unsuccessful one.  

In the buildup to the lucrative holiday season, marketing departments across the globe are buzzing. They are buzzing in 2017 just like they were the year before, and the year before that, and the year before that. It’s a tradition which goes back further than most can remember, and tradition is what this time of year is all about.

But things are changing.

The digital age is upon us. Retailers and brands, focused for years beyond counting on driving foot traffic toward their stores and products, have new goals in mind.

2017: The Year Christmas Became Shoppable

For brands across the retail sector, the Christmas season’s digital marketing spend investment is getting more costly, and for good reason:  

In the United States, where holiday shopping has become a national obsession, digital holiday shopping revenues topped 80 billion dollars in 2016. In 2017, that figure is expected to be even higher.

Here in the UK, Nearly a quarter of all December purchases were made online in 2016 – the channel’s greatest share of sales to date, and mobile traffic accounted for 54% of all retail web traffic from November 24th- December 24th.

For brands hoping to cash in on the holiday shopping season digital shopping trend, getting the most bang for every marketing buck is essential. Optimising and driving sales directly from the ads funded by that hefty Christmas season marketing budget is the most efficient way forward.

And shoppable marketing is leading the way.


A changing holiday season retail landscape

The days of the holiday shopper –  trundling from shop to shop, laden with carrier bags and bulging wallets, are coming to an end.

As consumers move online, and digital retail giants like Amazon and eBay take increasingly greedy bites out of the holiday shopping plum, brands and advertisers have been forced to rethink their approach.

New holiday digital marketing strategies, forged in the fires of lost market share, have allowed brands and retailers to reclaim some of the ground lost in the past decade, but most are aware (or at least they certainly should be) that there is much work yet to be done.

Luckily for them, there are new digital marketing weapons available to help turn the tide, and unconquered territories ripe for conquest by the imaginative and ambitious.

Shoppable technology is here, and 2017’s holiday shoppers will bear witness to the opening salvos of the battle to make it reach its amazing potential.

Here’s where that battle will be fought:


1) The AI assistant.

There has perhaps been no more intriguing technological development for the world’s brands and retailers than the advent and widespread acceptance of the AI assistant. Alexa, Google Home, and Siri have begun to play an important role in the interface between consumers and the internet. That role is expected to grow by leaps and bounds over the next 1-3 years, and a future where consumers order their gifts and Christmas dinners by voice might be coming sooner than you think.


2) Shoppable video

Have you seen your kids watching a youtube video over and over again recently? What if you could purchase associated gifts directly from that video and have them delivered to your door in time to wrap them up for the holidays? Guess what: in many cases, you already can. While shoppable technology is not yet embedded in every video on the internet, it’s really only a matter of time until it is. Learning what people want has never been easier.


3) “Add to cart” buttons on everything

The opportunity for brands to reserve a space on your digital shopping list has never been more golden. The antiquated “sales funnel” model has gradually given way to the “see it – want it – buy it” purchase journey of the future. Showing consumers what you have to offer is no longer enough, and making it as easy as possible for them to get it is the surest way to drive revenue in today’s digital marketplace. The “add to basket” / “add to cart” button will become a ubiquitous presence in the reality of the digital media future.


While there are doubtless many advancements which will impact the online retail space in the Cristmases to come, one thing is certain: shoppability will play a key role in how digital media and digital marketing evolve.

What brands roll out, and what consumers see this year, shoppability-wise will be interesting, but will be only a taste of what’s to come.