As the summer sales launched across Europe last week, our teams were busy working around the clock to manage the increased volume of searches. The summer sales period can witness some of the busiest shopping days of the year for particular retailers, generating high traffic, high buying intent and a high emotional sentiment from consumers, and this year certainly didn’t disappoint.

In fact, the 2018 summer sales got off to a sizzling start with our search and browse data showing a massive increase in those searching online for summer clothes and the latest bargains, across all our retail customer sites. So much so that it surpassed the demand seen on Black Friday!

Data that we collected and statistically analysed from one of the world’s largest fashion retailers showed that on the first day of the 2018 UK online summer sales searches were 64% higher than the first day of Black Friday in 2017.

The results also compare favourably year-on-year; searches in the first 24 hours of the summer sales were 46% higher in 2018 compared to 2017 for the UK, and an incredible 153% in Spain. The first hour of the UK summer sales was 1,363% higher than the same time a week before with 420,000 searches recorded within the first hour alone on the UK site. The same retailer in Spain saw an increase of 1.692% and an incredible 539,000 searches during the first hour.

It’s also really interesting to look at the top search terms and also to compare these across different countries to spot trends and understand consumer behaviour. Using our Now visualisation which clusters real-time search terms, the size of each bubble reflecting the volume of searches, retailers can quickly and easily see where demand is highest, spot trends and identify any potential issues such as zero results queries. In the UK, we can see that ‘linen’ was the most popular search term, followed by ‘white dress’ and ‘embroidered’ while the Spanish were looking for “white dress”, “dress” and Kimono.”

Visualizing data in this way helps retailers to anticipate and predict customer requirements and forecast trends so they can improve and tailor the online experience . It also enables them to detect and capitalize on opportunities through a deeper understanding of the most common queries and market patterns. Merchandisers and product managers can better plan stock levels and stores can make more informed decisions to enhance the customer journey and create unique, more personalised digital brand experiences that are designed around the specific attributes of these shoppers.

Sales periods are times when consumers often demonstrate unique characteristics and display common attributes such as the huge increase in site searches we witnessed this year. It’s really important to understand the people behind the queries, to create an online search experience that empathises, understands and can anticipate their needs.

By providing a more joyful search and navigation customer journey, and by visualising search and browse data in a multi-dimensional way, retailers can turn plain data into ideas, creating better contexts, human understanding and trustworthiness.

Sales and other special dates periods are often also times when consumers are open to engage and interact with an online shop proactively. So, through a better understanding of customer behaviours stores can enrich user interactions, create longer session durations, improve findability and offer more joyful and meaningful shopping experiences.

For more information visit Empathy Insight.