The holiday party continues for e-commerce

December 28, 2012 02:49 PM

Holiday shoppers spent more than $3.6 billion online in the week leading up to Christmas, according to comScore Inc. But the deals from e-retailers keep on coming, extending the shopping season.

For instance, women’s apparel retailer Chico’s FAS Inc., No. 73 in the 2012 Internet Retailer Top 500 late this week was promoting its Orange Bag sale with discounts of up to 60% off.

Other retailers are offering similar deals. GameStop Corp. (No. 55) features several year-end sales, including buy one and get 50% off a second item. And Crate & Barrel (No. 59) is conducting its winter clearance sale with discounts of up to 60%.

The post-Christmas sales opportunity is an important one for web retailers, say retail analysts. For starters, such sales help retailers sell excess inventory. Many shoppers extend their purchasing into the New Year because they purchase items for themselves instead of as gifts. The post-Christmas period also gives web merchants one more chance to engage with some of their best and motivated holiday customers, says Paula Rosenblum, managing partner of research and advisory firm Retail Systems Research LLC. “Between gift cards and the lure of more discounts, the holiday season now goes into the middle of January at minimum,” Rosenblum says. “The consumer is looking for a deal and retailers have inventory to get rid of.  It makes for an active period.”

Take (No. 323), an online retailer of watches and other jewelry. Sales on Christmas day tripled over the previous year. Those sales are expected to remain strong in the run up to New Year’s Day, CEO Mozes Hoch says., which expects web sales for all of 2012 of about $60 million, up 70.5% from $35.2 million in 2011, is offering significant post-holiday savings of up to 65% on various watches from Zenith, Movado, Rado and others. also has kept its 24-hour customer service and free return shipping in place until after the first of the year. That helps generate sales from consumers who bought a watch for a friend or family prior to Christmas.

“The customers who are buying now are coming back to buy for themselves because they tell us they liked their experience when they were doing their Christmas shopping,” Hoch says. “Or they may be coming back online to discuss an exchange and we are able to cross-sell them a more expensive item because they can still talk via phone or live chat with an experienced customer service representative, get free shipping and a great deal.”

To drive post-holiday sales, retailers are mixing and matching a variety of merchandising and marketing strategies. Kohl’s Corp. (No. 28) is offering discounts of up to 80% and pushing a program called “Yes Pass” that gives shoppers promotional codes to shop online for certain items and an extra 20% off their purchase when they spend $100 or more. Online jeweler Blue Nile Inc. (No. 71) uses targeted e-mail campaigns in conjunction with other marketing programs to draw shoppers’ attention to their post-Christmas sale that features discounts of up to 40% on diamond necklaces and other jewelry.

Retailers want to extend their holiday buying season because the period offers one more opportunity to conclude a better fourth quarter, says Jim Okamura, managing director of Chicago-based retail consulting firm Okamura Consulting. “Web retailers are still pretty aggressive after Christmas because they have a window for one more productivity push before the year ends and some retailers still have lots of inventory they need to move,” Okamura says. “They also see a lot of opportunity in shoppers redeeming their gift cards to cross sell them other items.”




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