You may still be digesting your hot dogs and nursing sunburns from the July 4th holiday, but in the minds of many retail executives, July is long gone and the holidays are already top of mind.  This year in particular the pressure is on; Internet Retailer recently reported that like last year, this holiday shopping season will be a short one with only 26 days between Black Friday and Christmas. In order to meet holiday sales goals and beat the competition, plans needs to put in place now. So which consumer shopping trends do retailers need to be aware of so they can effectively prepare for this short holiday season? I’ve identified a few below and welcome others in the comments section! Let the countdown to the holidays begin…

  1. Waning Attention Span

Not only will the season be short, but keeping consumer attention will be harder than ever. IBM recently released its annual Online Retail Holiday Readiness Report that looks at holiday shopping trends from 2013 and aims to predict trends for the 2014 holiday shopping season. While consumer spending is on the rise, the report found that consumer attention spans are on the decline. According to the results, average time on site continues to sink year over year. “Ultimately, shoppers have little tolerance for poor customer experiences—if they can’t find what they need, they’re moving on,” the report says.

Takeaway: Retailers need to implement next-generation personalization if they want to capture (and hold) consumer attention. With players like Amazon in the mix, consumers want to see content tailored to their unique needs and desires and if they don’t get that experience, they will move on. There’s still plenty of time to work with a personalization technology company before the holidays. Don’t be mislead, this isn’t personalization as you once knew it (triggered messages based purely on cookie data). Look for a partner that can use the data you already have to tailor individual messages based on consumer shopping preferences. With the right partner, you can layer this data with analytics to predict which content your customers are most interested in.   

  1. Increased Mobility

According to IBM’s research, the company estimates that 20 percent of site sales and more than 43 percent of site traffic will come from mobile devices in November 2014. “To succeed this holiday season, retailers will need to pay attention to both device type and operating system to better focus their mobile app and analytics investments, while at the same time ensuring a flawless customer experience between devices and operating systems,” IBM says.

Takeaway: It shouldn’t come as a surprise that mobile matters (a lot!). As an industry, we’ve witnessed how far personal devices have come and the impact this has had on shopping. The important thing to plan for as the holidays approach is creating an omnichannel shopping experience. This means the same strategy you’ve put into place across other channels like in-store and desktop should be implemented on mobile. If you are providing a tailored, personalized experience on your site your customers need to feel they are receiving this same treatment via mobile or you’ll risk losing their attention. Mobile devices are inherently personal. Therefore all interactions on mobile need to be as personal as you can make them (which in this day and age is pretty personal!).

The same is true with email. Email is a top revenue driving channel on the site, and because of mobile it also has a huge impact on in-store activity. In our experience, the vast majority of email opens for our retail partners are on mobile. If you aren’t thinking email when thinking about your mobile strategy and aren’t thinking how to make your email communications more personal, you are missing the boat!

With Thanksgiving less than six months away, it’s time to finalize holiday strategies and part of that is predicting how consumers will behave this year compared to last. All signs are pointing to delivering more personal experiences. What other trends are you seeing that will impact holiday planning for retailers this year? Let us know in the comments below.