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Google has dished out the dirt on what Aussies want for Christmas. The search giant information on consumer e-shopping habits and what we are looking for in pre-Christmas buying rush.

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Over the next five weeks shopping-related searches are set to accelerate “dramatically” as Aussies start heading into stores or placing orders via the web.

So what are we buying this year? Searches are up year over year in all retail categories, says Google.

But 2011 big winners include mass retailers – the likes of Myer and K Mart ( +47%), food and drink from Coles, Woolies and Bottle-O’s (+31%), and of course toys (+28%).

Here is the list of items searched for on Google, by growth:

Apparel: 25%
Computers and Electronics:15%
Food and drink: 31%
Games: 15%
Gigs and events: 23%
Home and garden 21%
Mass Merchants: 47%
Toys: 28%

Some other key dates in the online shopping season include: December 4 – shipping windows for international online retailers traditionally close and searches for domestic online retailers rise and 11th – when searches for store names plus “trading hours” or “location” begin to rise dramatically.

Last year, searches for trading hours grew nearly 250% in the last two weeks before Christmas as consumers looked to head instore, according to Google.

This year, store info searches are already up 37% over last year. Over a third of these now comes from a mobile device.  

And by December 16 there is a massive spike for “store name” plus “hours” and “location.”

But retailers advertising on search engines should make sure they’re ready for the uptick in traffic, Google warns.

“Businesses need to take a strategic and long term approach to their online Christmas campaign,” said Ross McDonald, Head of Retail, Google Australia.

 

“Last year, we saw some major retail advertisers miss 80% of their potential search traffic because their daily ad budgets were the same as the middle of the year. That’s like forgetting to put your most popular product out on shelves during the busiest season of the year.”

Anticipating key shopping days is key and retailers also need to think about where they should advertise, when to shift dollars around, and what message works best for them.

Get ready for mobile

Businesses should be ready with mobile-friendly websites that prominently display store hours and locations to accommodate people looking for their stores on a mobile and consider allocating search ad budget for mobiles.

This is especially true in the two weeks before Christmas as shoppers begin using their smartphones to search for brick-and-mortar stores. Already, over 30% of such searches come from mobile, and Google expects that number to rise further during the crucial last 14 days.

Bunnings has built a mobile-friendly website that provides stores and trading hours with just a few clicks.

Bunnings General Manager of Marketing and Merchandising, Clive Duncan, said that the company had first launched the mobile version of the website more than 12 months ago to meet changing customer trends.

 

“Making store locations and trading hours readily available to customers’ places practical information at their fingertips during the busy Christmas season.”

“Additional tools that we have available include QR codes and iPhone apps,” Mr Duncan added.

“We are extremely happy with their response so far.”

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