Planning for holiday 2017 is well underway for many in the retail industry. In 2016, U.S. holiday retail sales rose 4.7 percent to $658.3 billion and e-commerce transactions grew by 12 percent YOY*. This trend is likely to continue in 2017, but retailers will still face significant challenges driving growth in a market that’s driven by price and convenience.

Fortunately, it doesn’t have to be complicated; there’s a lot to gain by analyzing what occurred last year and applying those insights, in addition to current trends, to strategies for holiday season. CJ Affiliate recently looked at global retail sales, data, and intelligence from holiday 2016 in their 2017 Holiday Intelligence Report and identified the top e-commerce trends that have major implications for retail marketers this holiday season:

Consumers Prioritize Price & Convenience Over Loyalty
The proliferation of technology has created infinite choice for consumers. This becomes even more important when you consider the fact that consumers made fewer purchases last holiday season but the purchases they did make yielded higher average order values. 2016 data shows that online basket sizes averaged $117 compared to $104 in 2015, a 13 percent increase; at the same time, growth in orders was a relatively modest 1 percent.

November is an Increasingly Strong Month for Retailers
Peak Week, or the span of days that stretch from the Monday before Thanksgiving and Black Friday to Cyber Monday, continues to exert a strong influence. Retailers across all markets in CJ Affiliate’s global network experienced their highest volume sales days during Peak Week. Growth in orders and revenue during Peak Week has resulted in November accounting for a greater share of overall holiday sales.

Late December Not Far Behind
E-commerce typically dips the week before Christmas due to limited shipping options. But in 2016, shoppers demonstrated a willingness to delay online shopping late into December. Between Free Shipping Day (December 16) and Christmas Eve, order volume increased 25 percent year-over-year, compared to 5 percent year-over-year growth in the first half of December.

Mobile Keeps Making Moves
Mobile has emerged as a critical shopping tool and key driver of holiday revenue due to improved mobile sites and checkouts, which are driving more conversions and higher basket sizes. Orders on mobile devices accounted for one-third of all holiday orders made via affiliate last year.

Great information, now what?!

Here are three affiliate strategies that retailers planning for holiday 2017 can implement right now:

  1. Go Big in November
    With the month of November so closely tied to the success of the overall holiday season, be ready to kick off your advertising and promotions early, and put your best foot forward during Peak Week. Retailers should provide compelling offers, such as free shipping on Black Friday and Cyber Monday, and then amplify those deals through placements in publishers’ Peak Week emails.
  2. Plan Prominent Placements for Procrastinators
    Ramp up affiliate marketing in late December to capture order and revenue growth, and focus on promotions that cater to last-minute shopper mindsets, such as retail gift cards and stores with fast shipping services or in-store pick-up.
  3. Maximize Your Mobile Opportunity
    Retailers need a strong mobile presence this year as the use of smartphones continues to grow more than any other device. Secure media placements that will boost your brand’s exposure in front of “mobile-first” consumers who are constantly on their phones checking email or scrolling through social networks. Additionally, up the ante via cross-device tracking to ensure that you are able to capitalize on research behavior that begins on one device and results in a sale on another device. According to our network data, transactions that begin on mobile and conclude on desktop yield higher AOVs despite longer consideration periods.

For additional insights and strategies on how retailers can drive greater returns this holiday season, check out 2017 Holiday Intelligence Report.


CJ Affiliate (formerly Commission Junction) is a leading global affiliate marketing network, specializing in pay-for-performance programs to drive results. Our network helps to create connections amid millions of online consumers daily by facilitating equitable, lucrative relationships between advertisers and publishers. Many of the world’s most recognized and specialized brands run their affiliate programs on CJ’s platform.