Shop.org has posted some valuable pre-christmas research which should help most retailers inform their plans.
here's the summary of the whole post:
* Over half of the online retailers surveyed expect online holiday sales to increase at least 15% YOY, though that is fewer than the three-quarters (77%) who expected these same results last year.
* Two thirds of consumers expect to use the Web for at least part of their holiday shopping, citing advantages such as 24-hour shopping convenience, price comparison capabilities, and, yes, free shipping offers.
* Retailers have been busy all year investing in new or improved site features and services. Topping the list of focus areas were site search, product videos, cross-selling on the product page, and customer reviews. One fourth of retailers invested in a Facebook page this year.
* Two thirds of consumers will typically start their online shopping at a specific site, while another third note that a search engine or directory is the starting point. Once at a given site, consumers look for clearance sale pages, customer product reviews and a shipping deadlines calendar, among other features.
* How do consumers choose to do business with a given online merchant? In order of importance, consumers want the ability to see the cart total prior to checkout, value for money, clear product descriptions, a free returns shipping offer or policy, and a strong merchant reputation. Only then do criteria follow such as guaranteed on time delivery and having the product available to ship immediately.