Online holiday shopping trends still point upward


Mobile AppsIt is no secret that a great deal of holiday gift shopping is done on line, highlighting the need to brick and mortar retailers to make visiting their store as compelling as possible, and to make sure they are competing effectively online and on mobile as well.

According to a survey from MarketLive, mobile is really heating up, with 36% of all shoppers making buys with mobile device of one kind or another. 49% will also be getting purchasing advice via social media,.

“The survey results highlight key strategies we are suggesting our merchants implement for the holiday season. Providing an engaging and optimized mobile experience is paramount given that online purchases completed on a mobile device continue to sharply trend upward, as well as pre-purchase activities on mobile such as researching prices and looking up store inventory to see if that special gift is in stock,” said Ken Burke, founder and CEO of MarketLive. “In addition, we are advising our merchants to pay attention to their social channels this season. Revenue from the channel may still be growing slowly, but the survey underlines interesting changes in the role of social influence on gift purchases this holiday season. We may have finally turned the corner on social commerce.”

“This year’s survey results underline the need for retailers to prepare to be able to meet consumers’ online shopping expectations across all channels. It is critical that consumer experiences online, in-store, via mobile and social are all exemplary and aligned to optimize their business,” said Lauren Freedman, president of the e-tailing group, a market research firm that conducts the annual shopper survey for MarketLive.

From MarketLive, here are some of the report’s major findings:

Mobile Trends – Now a critical revenue producing channel:
The bottom line is that more than ever, shoppers will purchase via their mobile devices — retailers must ensure a user friendly, optimized mobile experience or risk losing critical revenue this holiday season. Pre-purchase research and actual purchase transactions made from smartphones, tablets and mobile apps continue to increase each year. For 2014, we see 36% of respondents planning to purchase half or more of their gifts via a mobile device, a sharp increase from the prior year:
70% are likely to research on their smartphones the gifts they find in retail stores
56% are likely to reserve products from their smartphones for subsequent pick-up at retail stores

Social Influence – Social Networks are coming into their own and influencing buying behavior:
While social networks have long been rumored to influence consumer behavior, that influence has not been reliably documented at the cash register — until now. Our 2014 survey showed significant proportions of shoppers being influenced by (and participating in) social sites and friends during their upcoming holiday shopping: In terms of importance (very + somewhat), survey respondents reported the following:
30% of shoppers have made a purchase via social in the last year, an increase of 12% over 2013
49% will make a purchase because of a social referral
44% intend to discover new products via social networks

Social Participation:
In addition to receiving influence from social networks, respondents also showed a heightened obligation to contribute to social sites as well:
52% feel it is important to review products they have purchased
48% say it is important to share product recommendations with friends/family via social channels
42% will pin items on Pinterest

Gifting Trends:
Consumers’ choice of which online retailer to purchase gifts from is often driven by where the ‘perfect gift’ is in stock and how close at hand is the holiday shipping deadline. However, retailers can capture a larger Average Order Value by recognizing that holiday shoppers are often buying for themselves even as they shop for others:
60% intend to purchase 11 or more gifts
55% will spend $500 or more on gifts this holiday season (both online and offline)
43% will pay full price in order to get the “perfect gift” for someone on their list

What might prevent buying gifts online?
* High shipping costs (42%)
* Enjoy the spirit of being in stores during the holiday season (28%)
* Finding it easier to research and compare products in the store (16%)
* High shipping costs (64%) or hidden shipping costs (52%) are top reasons why consumers will abandon gift items in their cart