It’s hard to overestimate the importance and impact of the peak Christmas/Holiday season on nearly every sector of the economy. Consumers spend more on dining, entertainment and travel, for example, driving merchants to hire more seasonal workers. Marketers of all stripes spend more to reach current and new customers. Customer service and fulfillment companies ramp up to meet demand.

But no industry is impacted more than retail - not by a longshot. For some retailers, this crucial period accounts for as much as 30% of annual sales, according to the National Retail Federation.

According to the Shopping Index, Digital commerce is claiming a larger piece of this gigantic pie, growing 34% globally during holiday 2016. Canada grew the fastest at 70%, but even mature markets including the US, Germany, France and the UK grew by double digits. According to the NRF, which pegged 2016 online spending in the US at about $117 billion, ecommerce was in a dead heat with department stores as the preferred shopping method.

It goes without saying, then, that retailers and brands cannot be prepared enough for the upcoming shopping frenzy. Will their site hold up under the volume? Do they have the right promotions in place? What’s their email marketing strategy? Their mobile strategy? How can they leverage artificial intelligence across this spectrum to better serve customers?

Read on. This guide is based on decades of collective experience and expertise helping leading global brands crush their holiday targets.