Home for the holidays

From “The 12 Deals of Christmas” to “Techmas” to “The 24 Deals of Christmas,” retailers are celebrating the season on their home pages with specials galore. And one lucky Hayneedle shopper will get a $10,000 spree for Christmas.

Bill Siwicki

Retailers know today’s holiday shoppers crave deals, and some savvy merchants are providing deals in droves, even creating a season of deals wrapped with a celebratory name.

On Tiger Direct’s home page it’s “The 30 Days of Techmas.” The central image encourages consumers to “Shop for the latest tech and gadgets this holiday season. The hottest laptops, HDTVs, desktops, PC components, cameras and more!” Tiger Direct, a unit of Systemax Inc., No. 25 in theInternet Retailer Top 500 Guide, also is promoting on its home page 100 tech gifts for under $100 and free holiday shipping for orders over $150.

It’s “The 12 Deals of Christmas” on the home page of OfficeMax Inc. On Dec. 6 the retailer, No. 12 in the Top 500, informed shoppers the deals were for 12 hours only, valid Thursday Dec. 6 from 9 a.m. to 9 p.m. Eastern time, and that the deals were online only. A countdown clock hovers atop the deals page.

Newegg Inc., No. 13 in the Top 500, is celebrating “Techmas.” On Dec. 6 a large banner read, “On the 6th day of Techmas Newegg has brought to thee...12 more deals singing ‘Half way there, don’t miss more awesome savings!’” On the deals page, shoppers could watch a 44-second video of people in pajamas sitting on the floor by a fireplace and Christmas tree singing the day’s 12 deals.

For Costco Wholesale Corp. it’s “The 24 Deals of Christmas.” The specials run Nov. 26 through Dec. 19. Thursday’s deal, No. 11 in the series, was a Dell notebook for $699.99, saving $175. A banner advised shoppers to “Check your e-mail daily through 12/19/12 for a new deal every day” and below included a window to sign up for e-mails from Costco, No. 17 in the Top 500.

And at Dell Inc. it’s “12 Days of Deals.” Clicking the deals home page banner takes you to the deals page where the shopper is informed how many days of deals are remaining and is shown a large countdown clock that indicates how much time is left for the day’s deal. Dell is No. 5 in the Top 500.

Retailers are going deal-crazy because consumers by and large remain sensitive to price and because retailers want to drive repeat visits, says Nikki Baird, managing partner at Retail Systems Research LLC.

“First, regular price just isn’t going to meet consumers’ expectations for the holidays, so retailers have to play to what works—deals,” Baird says. “And second, while there is a lot of focus on Black Friday and Cyber Monday, the holiday selling season is a season, it lasts all the way up until Christmas. And these kinds of deals—especially the kind that promise something new every day—hopefully drive repeat traffic back to the site in the run-up to the holiday.”

These deals tactics might not be the best approach to holiday selling, though, some experts say.

“I think retailers saw great Thanksgiving numbers and now are experiencing a sales hangover,” says Sucharita Mulpuru, vice president and principal analyst at Forrester Research Inc. “To boost those numbers, they’re using the easy tactic to launch in a pinch—which is sales and discounts. Not the best idea as it’s short-term thinking and creates a never-ending cycle of discounts, but it drives near-term sales.”

Hayneedle Inc., No. 85 in the Top 500, is offering deals and discounts on its home page, but it’s in part taking a different approach to holiday selling. A box on the home page marked, “Win $10,000 Hayneedle Shopping Spree,” leads to a page on top of which is splashed text that reads, “Create a visual holiday wish list and you could win a $10,000 Hayneedle.com shopping spree!” Below it are images of fully decorated virtual rooms, the “visual wish lists,” created on Hayneedle.com by customers.

Shoppers can enter the “I’m Dreaming of Hayneedle Sweepstakes” by registering and then creating a visual gift wish list from a virtual collection of gift images available at Hayneedle.com. Entrants can increase their chances of winning by sharing their visual gift wish list through their social networks to encourage others to share and vote for their entry. Each time an entry is voted on or shared, an additional ballot is added to the sweepstakes, increasing the chances of winning the $10,000 grand prize shopping spree. Entrants are encouraged to share and vote daily via Facebook, Twitter or e-mail to increase their chances of winning.  Deadline for entry is Dec. 19.

“The ‘I’m Dreaming of Hayneedle Sweepstakes’ was born out of our customers’ usage of visual social media platforms to express their own home design and decor styles,” says Angie Kubicek, brand campaign manager. “We wanted to give users an opportunity to give friends and family a place to see and shop their wish list in one location versus the typical sharing of one item at a time.”

Hayneedle is employing Olioboard’s two-dimensional and three-dimensional interior design visualization system and social shopping platform. A shopper can bring together images from across Hayneedle.com and create a fully designed and furnished room. The contest page on Hayneedle.com showcases the rooms of the leaders in the contest. “Olioboard’s technology makes it so easy for people to see how Hayneedle.com can help them create their dream room, share their vision and shop the look,” Kubicek says.

Other retailers may not have a holiday-themed name for their period of deals or a sweepstakes promotion but are aggressively presenting specials designed to convert shoppers into buyers.

Walmart.com, No. 4 in the Top 500, is promoting “Ultimate Online Specials—for your best Christmas yet.” On Dec. 6 consumer electronics were featured on the home page, which also promoted free shipping on eligible items. The page also features tabs to search by gift recipient type, such as “Kids’ and teens’ gifts” and “Sleepwear shop.” Another gift finder tool lets consumers shop by price: “Personalized gifts from $14,” “Stocking stuffers from $8,” “Gifts for him under $50,” “Gifts for her under $20” and more.

Sears Holdings Corp. is zeroing in on holiday shoppers with a home page that proclaims, “Holiday Deal Hunter Extras Online Only—extra 5-15% off plus free shipping.” The special ends today. A large box lists product categories at 5%, 10% and 15% off. A box in the middle of the page reads “50% off gifting blowout,” leading to Sears’ biggest deals. And an area for daily deals highlights a countdown clock informing shoppers how much time is left for the day’s deal. Sears, No. 8 in the Top 500, is offering free shipping on orders of $59 or more.

A huge rotating hero image on the home page of Recreational Equipment Inc. promotes holiday gifts and links to the retailer’s gift center. The holiday gift center offers many ways to find gifts and information about shipping, gift boxes and gift cards. It also promotes free shipping, and guaranteed delivery by Dec. 24 for orders placed by Dec. 21. REI, No. 64 in the Top 500, also is featuring a major markdown promotion on winter clothing, with more than 11,000 items for sale. And until Dec. 9, shoppers get a $20 gift card when they spend $100. REI also is offering free shipping with no minimum purchase.

Macy’s and L.L. Bean Inc. both are offering blanket discounts to holiday shoppers and aggressively promoting the discounts on their home pages. Atop Macy’s page is a banner that tells shoppers they get an extra 20% off purchases plus free shipping when they use the code “EXTRA” at checkout. Similarly, L.L. Bean informs shoppers they’ll get an extra 10% off all purchases made through Dec. 12. Plus, L.L. Bean is giving away free $10 gift cards with purchases of $50 or more through Dec. 24. Macy’s is No. 14 in the Top 500; L.L. Bean is No. 18.

Like some other retailers, The Home Depot Inc. is highlighting on its home page a holiday gift center. A badge that reads, “Find more unique gift ideas in our gift center,” floats atop the hero shot on the right edge. Clicking on the badge takes a shopper to the gift center where bars for “Gifts Under $20,” “Gifts Under $50” and “Gifts Under $100” appear at the center of the page. There are also areas for the “Top 6 Gift Picks” and gift cards. Back on the home page, Home Depot, No. 42 in the Top 500, features a section labeled, “Up to 30% off select holiday decorations.” Home Depot is advertising free shipping on over 300,000 items.

Shoppers looking for a computer for Christmas get a special bonus if they buy online at the HP Home and Home Office Store, No. 21 in the Top 500. The home page expansively features the special offer: buy a PC and get a Nook Simple Touch e-reader free. The hero image is a PC and a Nook surrounded by a pine tree branch with pine cones.

Williams-Sonoma, No. 24 in the Top 500, is taking the discount route on its home page, encouraging shoppers to shop more to save more. Consumers can save 10% on orders of $50 or more, 15% off $100 or more, 20% off $200 or more, and 25% off $500 or more. It also is offering on its home page what it describes as a deeply discounted gift of the day.

And at Toys ‘R’ Us Inc., No. 29 in the Top 500, the chain retailer offered a two-day cyber-sale this week, featuring discounts up to 35% off thousands of toys. On another sale front, one of the hero shots on the home page promotes, “Our great big Christmas sale.” Clicking on that promotion takes a shopper to a page with a grid of 16 products without prices. A shopper clicks on a product to be taken to a page where she can discover the deals offered on that product or category. The sale ends December 8.

As the 2012 holiday shopping season progresses, consumers are likely to see many more deals on the home pages of retailers’ e-commerce sites, experts say.

“The proliferation of deals during the holiday season will continue, and anyone not in the game yet will enter soon,” says Brant Cruz, vice president of e-commerce and retail practice leader at e-commerce and m-commerce research and consulting firm Chadwick, Martin and Bailey. “Think of the home page as the front door for holiday shoppers. E-retailers want to make their place as inviting as possible, draw a crowd to their party, and make up in incremental sales—because so many of us will buy one more gadget if we feel like we’re getting a great deal—what they lose in margin.”


Costco, Dell, Hayneedle, holiday shopping, REI, Sears, Sucharita Mulpuru, Tiger Direct