8 Things to Keep in Mind for Gray November October 17, 2016 by Paul Byrne Online Marketing eCommerce marketing Gray November holiday shopping holiday season Q4 The holiday shopping season used to begin on Black Friday. Then with the rise of eCommerce, Cyber Monday became popular. However, retailers have noticed that many consumers prefer to shop earlier than these days. In turn, companies no longer solely prepare Black Friday and Cyber Monday strategies. Many now focus on the entire month of November as well. They call this month of holiday promotions “Gray November.” To ensure the success of a Gray November promotional strategy, it is important to remember some key things. 1) Consumers Don’t Want to Do Math. Okay, so not all consumers. However, many simply don’t take the time to do it. According to a 2012 study led by Akshay Rao of the University of Minnesota’s Carlson School of Management, consumers would rather receive something for free, instead of a discount. This could include something along the lines of a free gift with purchase, a gift card for $10 when they spend $50 or more, or a buy-one-get-one-free deal. 2) Consumers Expect a 25-30% Discount. It is important not to offer the same deals throughout the holiday season. Retailers that participate in Gray November should improve their deals over the course of the month. By doing this, consumers will continue to purchase items as they see better deals. A majority of consumers need at least a 25-30% discount to encourage them to buy an item. 3) Consumers Want Free Shipping. In a study by Walker Sands, 88% of respondents said free shipping would make them more likely to shop online. Enough said. 4) Allow Enough Time for Returns If a company offers a 30-day return policy, many gift recipients will not be able to return unwanted items. With this in mind, retailers should consider highlighting any longer return policies. Alternatively, businesses could decide to adjust their return policies for the holiday season. 5) Consumers Likely to Make Second Purchases. The probability of a customer making a second purchase starts to decrease significantly after the 30-day mark. Retailers should consider sending post-purchase emails early on. This will help bring repeat business beyond Gray November or the holiday season. 6) It is Vital to Optimize for Mobile. Mobile shopping – both on smartphones and tablets – has grown significantly over the last few years. According to Magento, the 2015 holiday season saw mobile sales increase by 58% from 2014 and drove 30% of online sales. Consumers not shopping on mobile still use their mobile devices to conduct research prior to making a purchase. According to Google, 82% of smartphone users say they use their phone to help make purchase decisions while shopping in stores. With the overwhelming use of mobile by shoppers, retailers need to make sure their websites are mobile-friendly. Not optimizing for mobile could very well mean significant missed opportunities and sales. 7) Consumers Buy Gifts for Themselves. A study from Chase Freedom shows the practice of “self-gifting” has become increasingly popular. Retailers can take advantage of this with clear marketing messages, i.e. “treat yourself.” If a retailer decides to use buy-one-get-one promotions, this could encourage further purchases. 8) Consumers Start Shopping Before November. According to the National Retail Federation (NRF), 40% of shoppers start their holiday shopping prior to Halloween. In other words, they begin before Gray November starts. With this in mind, retailers could benefit from promoting holiday deals even earlier. Pushing marketing materials as early as October could prove to be beneficial.