December 5, 2022

Retailers are heading into the holiday season generally optimistic but facing new challenges that include inflation-weary consumer attitudes and marketing ROI difficulties.
Retailers are turning to promotions, email and SMS, paid search, affiliate marketing and a mix of shipping incentives to get consumers to shop this season, according to a holiday benchmark survey conducted by CommerceNext in partnership with The Commerce Experience Collective (CommX).
Most merchants expect this year’s holiday sales to outdo their 2019 numbers, but not necessarily those from holiday 2021, which was a record year for most, leaving many optimistic but also cautious about profits. One way retailers are tackling excess inventory and appealing to shoppers this upcoming holiday is through promotions.
The report found that 32% of respondents plan to increase the number of promotions this holiday season. In contrast, the 2021 report found that only 13% of respondents increased promotions. As a result, promotions will most likely claim a much larger role in acquisition strategies this year compared to last year.
PRIVACY CHANGES
A majority of retailers are also concerned about privacy changes impacting their ability to target customers and generate the same marketing ROI from advertising.

“Privacy changes have really hurt paid social by limiting targeting and measurement, and for the first time in years, we’re seeing affiliates and partnerships rise to the second most used marketing tactic after paid search,” said Veronika Sonsev, co-founder of CommerceNext.
Ultimately, Sonsev added, attribution will be the key to expanding marketing channels.
“Retailers must go beyond last-click ROAS and implement incrementality testing and/or media mix modeling in order to successfully scale marketing,” she said.
SMS
As retailers ramp up promotional strategies, they are also focusing more on retention marketing strategies. While email marketing still remains the top and most reliable retention strategy, SMS continues to gain popularity, with nearly two-thirds of merchants relying on their SMS programs to beef up their holiday sales.

The survey was fielded online August 2–16, 2022, among 100 retail and brand executives from various-sized companies across a variety of categories to determine industry expectations for online sales this upcoming holiday season and this year’s favored marketing strategies.
“From Digital Sales Cheer To Consumer Spending Fear”, the CommerceNext and CommX 2022 holiday report can be found here.

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