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Online retailers gear up for Christmas

Ecommerce retailers in the UK are getting ready for Christmas sales with almost half anticipating an increase in online orders compared to last year.

New research by ChannelAdvisor has found that 47% of ecommerce retailers are expecting an increase in online sales compared to 2015; 21% of these expect an increase of more than 10%.

Christmas preparations are starting earlier than ever for UK retailers with 50% saying they started their Christmas campaigns in August or earlier. In 2015, 42% of internet retailers started gearing up for Christmas in the summer.

Black Friday is the most profitable day for 26% of UK retailers, followed by Amazon Prime Day for 22% and Cyber Monday for 15%. The most popular promotional tactics are digital marketing and advertising. In addition, 62% said that Facebook was the top social platform for sales conversions.

Mobile is also becoming increasingly important, with 66% of online retailers now offering a mobile app so customers can buy on the move.

To attract customers in the run-up to Christmas, 52% of retailers say they are offering same-day delivery and 66% are offering next-day delivery. When it comes to payment, PayPal is the most popular payment method after credit and debit cards according to the retailers polled, followed by Amazon Payments (19%) and Apple Pay (6%).

However, the biggest challenge this year is order fulfilment with 51% saying this poses a challenge because Christmas Day falls on a Sunday. As a result, 38% of retailers are offering a 20th December cut-off date this year for guaranteed on-time deliveries.

"Consumer expectations continue to increase," said Mike Shapaker, Managing Director, EMEA at ChannelAdvisor. "They expect high quality products at a competitive price, delivered quickly and for free. As we approach the busiest time of year for online retail, these expectations are amplified. In this highly competitive environment, retailers that can deliver on consumers' high expectations will dominate."

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