By Maris Callahan
It's the busiest shopping season of the year and people are shopping online more than ever before. Black Friday and Cyber Monday used to be the biggest shopping days, but thanks to the convenience of the digital age, Cyber Monday has become a week long retail celebration and jump starts a full month of holiday offers, promotions and sales.
The National Retail Federation said retailers generate 25% of their sales during the holiday season and mobile shoppers are now making up 61% of total e-commerce traffic. That means, there are a lot fewer people elbowing their way through department stores and more people navigating the web to find great deals for every shopper on their holiday list.
For retailers, this means that it is more important than ever that your website is attractive and functional on desktop and mobile devices, and that simply having a website is no longer enough. Here are three trends that consumers are looking for when they're shopping online this holiday season and the brands that excel at delivering.
Meaningful and Memorable Domain Names
Retailers are ditching long, verbose and confusing domain names full of hyphens and backslashes in favor of new not-com options that are meaningful, memorable, available and searchable – think 'dot-photography' (.photography), 'dot-shopping' (.shopping) and 'dot-boutique' (.boutique).
That means you’re going to start seeing a lot of creative domain names when you shop some of your favorite retailers. Not only does a domain like 'www.myne.boutique' tell a customer exactly what kind of website they're visiting - a boutique - but it is easier to remember and strengthens word-of-mouth marketing.
So what kind of brands use these new domain name options?
It's not surprising that the Internet retail giant Amazon would be on the cutting edge of an online trend, but how they're using not-com domain names is certainly unique.
Though Amazon.com still directs you to the company's homepage, Amazon uses a lot of different domain names to redirect shoppers and would-be shoppers alike to the different parts of their business: ‘www.amazon.shoes’ will take you right to their online shoe department, while ‘amazon. Jimmy Choo, IBM, Omega, Mazda are all brands using not-coms to help shoppers find them online, to streamline their marketing efforts and to make it easier for customers to navigate their busy web pages.
This holiday season, you can have your coffee and drink it too. The husband-and-wife duo behind Driftaway Coffee opted to purchase 'www.driftaway.coffee' instead of 'www.driftaway.com' because they liked that customers would immediately recognize it as a coffee business. "It's a URL that implies what we do," said Mody. "We are an online business exclusively selling online. There is no café and probably will not for be one for awhile. So we're trying to focus on e-commerce. Not having a physical location and physical space, our website is basically our location."
Another internet entrepreneur, Nnenna Stella, picked a 'dot-life' (.life) domain name to help her handmade accessory business stand out from the dozens of NYC fashion brands online. She uses the memorable domain extension to tell shoppers that her brand is more than just an online store, but a lifestyle.
"As soon as I heard that 'dot-life' was an option, I transitioned the site and rebranded the business," Stella said. "In two months, we doubled sales compared to our previous ten months."
She added, "having a domain that is short and to the point makes it easier to remember. It's the exact name of my business - no hyphen or 'dot-net' or 'dot-com.' It's so concise and just looks cool.'
In-Store Mobile Search
This year, not only are online shopping sales on the rise, but mobile sales are increasing steadily. On Black Friday alone, retail sales topped $3 billion in revenue and over $1 billion of those sales took place on a mobile device (TechCrunch).
In fact, Amazon said that mobile orders on Thanksgiving topped Cyber Monday last year, and Walmart said that over 70 percent of website traffic on Thanksgiving was mobile.
Target said that 60 percent of Thanksgiving sales were from mobile devices.
Even when you shop in store, you can make use of your mobile devices be it a smartphone, tablet or wearable technology to compare prices, look for online only discounts and even to read online reviews of the gifts that they want to buy.
In some cases, you can find a better deal online, and if you are getting something big or heavy, a lot of stores have free shipping.
This brings us to something else...
Free Shipping Promotions
Before you fill your cart on an eCommerce site, make sure the site offers free or discounted shipping. There are some great apps that you can download to your desktop or mobile that will help you find these, and other deals online.
One site that will help you find such deals is Honey, a browser or mobile app that automatically applies the best coupon code at checkout for you, with thousands of savings opportunities at retailers like Target, Best Buy and Macy’s.
It’s a great way to capitalize on those holiday sales without leaving the house.
Strong and actionable graphics and video have long since been a major asset to online retail, but as technology has become more sophisticated, brands have been stepping up their game and making such content "shoppable" using clever tagging, light boxes, embedded linking and pop-ups.
YouTube has an operational click-to-buy function and Facebook is rumored to be exploring shoppable video ads, but some brands are already off and running. For example: TopShop uses embedded pop-up tags to direct buyers from its editorial-style fashion magazine to its online store,. While Kate Spade makes use of TrueView and shoppable ads and Christian Louboutin is using YouTube's functionality to drive purchases.
What online trends are you seeing as you do your holiday shopping this year? If you're looking to snap up a not-com domain name, visit www.name.kitchen/claim-your-domain and pick the perfect name.