Halloween! The Kick-Off to Holiday Shopping

Retailers that tailor their holiday logistics plan based upon the traditional “Black Friday” start to the shopping season may be in for a surprise this year, as industry experts predict that bargain hungry shoppers may begin their quest as early as Halloween.

“Halloween is the new Thanksgiving,” Scot Wingo, CEO of ChannelAdvisor ecommerce consultants said in a recent eMarketerwebinar.  The webinar cited a Hay Group finding that 31 percent of retailers plan to start their holiday promotions earlier this year, with 42 percent starting in October.

And for retailers who still aren’t convinced of the need to deck-the-halls at the same time they’re putting out their Jack-O-Lanterns, Compete marketing found that by Black Friday 2011, 54 percent of online shoppers had completed more than one-quarter of their holiday purchases, compared with 49 percent during 2010.

Online sales are expected to be an increasingly popular option among shoppers, with sales expected to reach $54.5 billion during November and December, up 16.8 percent from 2011.

Proper logistics of course, will be integral to a retailer’s successful holiday season.  Satisfied customers are more likely to return, and to spread the word about their positive experience.  And consumers’ expectations for either “flat” shipping fees or “free” shipping, and ASAP delivery, add to retailers’ challenges.

Retailers that have not yet planned for the coming holiday season should act now to lock in service.  This is especially true for businesses that expect to ship significant volume to Canada.  Similar to expectations in the U.S., Canadian shoppers are also expected to set new records for online shopping this holiday season.

U.S. retailers must not underestimate the U.S./Canada cross border process.  Despite the closeness of our two countries, and our vast similarities, there are huge differences when it comes to border clearance procedures and navigating Canada’s vast infrastructure.

Experienced cross border logistics providers offer flexible and efficient options for shipments to Canada, but a business needs to do its homework.  Many providers claim to have cross border experience, but in fact, are not up to the job.