Like Thanksgiving and Black Friday, Cyber Monday has become an annual "holiday" for consumers who seek online sales in an effort to avoid crowded stores and to find better deals. Research from BIGinsight for the National Retail Federation estimates an even bigger turnout today compared to last year, with an estimated 129.2 million Americans shopping online, compared to 122.8 million this time last year.
Studies show that more consumers are shopping online than ever before--not only on Cyber Monday, but throughout the entire holiday season. However, additional industry research sheds light on some concerns that are causing shoppers frustration--all of which marketers and customer service should not lose sight.
According to Accenture Interactive, which has released a new study, "Shoppers Prefer Personalization Over Privacy This Holiday Season," that surveyed 1,000 consumers in both the U.K. and U.S. Key findings from the study include:
-- While 82 percent of U.S. consumers are concerned about websites tracking their behavior, 80 percent are aware of online tracking, but understand that it is necessary in order to receive a tailored shopping experience.
-- 61 percent of U.S. respondents suggested it is more important to them that companies present them with relevant offers as opposed to 39 percent who say companies should stop tracking their website activity.
-- 93 percent of U.S. consumers are more inclined to purchase from a company that makes use of social media channels.
-- 75 percent are more inclined to buy from companies that make use of mobile apps.
-- 55 percent of U.S. consumers claim online prices entice them to visit a store where they can compare prices and view merchandise up close, but they still go home to buy the product online.
The Accenture Interactive survey reveals the importance of companies practicing relevant online shopping experiences and engaging customers in social and mobile, while the "2012 Online Shopping Customer Experience Study" from Virtual Hold Technology reports difficulties with customer service and completing purchases. About 60 percent of the 1,000 consumers surveyed said they had problems trying to make online purchases, and about three-quarters of them had abandoned an online shopping cart due to frustration with getting the help they needed. About two-thirds of shoppers said they simply give up or shop elsewhere online when they encounter difficulties.
A majority of those surveyed said they would purchase more products from a website that allowed them to click or tap for customer service help. More than 75 percent said they would prefer a site that offered this convenience over a competitor's site that did not, and more than half said they would become promoters of the brand. Eric Camulli, VHT's vice president of marketing, said, "By consistently providing good experiences online and across channels, retailers can build loyalty and reputation as well as drive and protect revenue."
As more and more shoppers realize that they don't need to leave their homes to find the best deals and more readily leverage mobile devices, Cyber Monday will eventually extend beyond today (Wal-Mart has already coined this week "Cyber Week.") to every day during the holiday season. Eventually the online shopping "holiday" will ultimately become passÃ©. Until that time comes, retailers mustn't lose their shoppers to competitors that are already providing low prices and convenience. By offering an integrated, seamless, and relevant experience, companies will no longer have to compete on price as a ploy to attract consumers lured more by convenience and relevance than by low prices.