The holiday shopping season is going to be boffo. That’s the word -- in so many words -- from IBM, which has crunched the numbers about online shopping and emerged smiling.

The technology giant’s assessment comes from trends it has discerned in the last few months, courtesy of its Retail Online Index, which combines factual marketplace data from the IBM Data Analytics Benchmark with trends gleaned from the IBM Social Sentiment Index.

Online Sales Increasing

The Social Sentiment Index is an advanced analytics and natural language processing tool that analyzes large volumes of social media data in order to discern trends, such as consumer sentiment. These two tools, the company said, offer “the most accurate and immediate snapshot on the state of the online retail market.”

The Index has found that online sales in the third quarter increased by 3.1 percent over Q2, which IBM said showed that consumers are preparing to spend. IBM noted that its analysis meshes with a recent report from the U.S. Census Bureau, which found that September sales were 1.1 percent over those in August.

Positive sentiment around ads grew to 21.3 percent, or about twice that of negative sentiment. Consumers were sharing their enthusiasm about ads with friends via social networks, the company said.


Similarly, positive sentiment about online shopping grew to 24.3 percent, fueled by enthusiasm about the advantages of online coupons. Two segments of shopping stood out in Q3, IBM said: home goods and department stores. Online sales of home good rose by 8.9 percent, and online sales by department stores grew 3.9 percent.

Brick and Mortar + Virtual

IBM said that department stores are demonstrating the importance of a strong in-store and offline presence, in that positive sentiment around the in-store shopping experience is now at 22.8 percent and positive feelings about online shopping for those retailers is 24.3 percent -- both more than double the negative feelings. Overall, positive consumer sentiment related to department stores hit 35.4 percent, compared to 11 percent in negative sentiment.

The Index also found that positive sentiment around convenience hit “an astounding” 67.3 percent, over six times the negative sentiment.

IBM has extrapolated from this data, wrote IBM Global Retail Leader Jill Puleri on the company’s Smarter Planet blog, that “consumers are preparing to shop in droves and retailers who deliver a convenient and integrated shopping experience that spans both in-store and online” will be in the best position.

Image courtsey of DeiMosz (Shutterstock)