Though Thanksgiving's still one week away, the holiday shopping season has already begun. But, as Black Friday creeps closer, retailers are scrambling to put the finishing touches on their customer experience and engagement strategies in an effort to make the 2014 season their most profitable holiday yet.
While bold initiatives and innovative promotions are essential differentiators year-round, competition grows increasingly fierce during the holiday season, as shoppers use every channel available to actively seek out the best deals possible. Therefore, retailers must get inside these consumers' heads in order to determine which tactics will generate the greatest revenue and foster loyalty in the coming year.
The following statistics examine the results of numerous holiday surveys and what retailers can expect with regard to the in-store, online, and mobile customer experience throughout the 2014 season:
- Deal finding-researching products online and purchasing items in-store-remains popular (53 percent). However, 63 percent of consumers choose to research gift ideas at the given store's brick-and-mortar location. (SDL)
- Price comparisons drive showrooming behavior, as 28 percent of mobile users 'always' research on-sale items while standing in-store and 27 percent turn to their device when looking for larger selections of product styles and sizes. (G/O Digital)
- Thirty-five percent of shoppers believe that in-store only special offers and discounts that can be redeemed at the given retailer's nearby location will influence them to buy gifts in-store. (G/O Digital)
- Nearly 77 percent of shoppers who report receiving mobile push notifications in-store for promotions read the alerts when they come through, while only 67 percent redeem such offers. (Burst Media)
- One-quarter of all shoppers specifically choose to shop digitally because the 'relaxed' aspect allows them to avoid the stress of dealing with long lines and crazy crowds. (Burst Media)
- Thirty percent of shoppers 'always' engage in "webrooming" by using their desktop or laptop computers to search for on-sale items, while an additional 25 percent go online to compare products and prices between retail stores. (G/O Digital)
- Shoppers become frustrated when their online and in-store experiences differ (47 percent), when there's not enough product information available (52 percent), and when the Web store displays items that are out of stock (60 percent). (SDL)
- Ninety-one percent of global marketers plan to use email throughout their 2014 holiday campaigns, as 71 percent of online adults agree that promotional emails often influence them to take some action, including completing their purchases (40 percent). (Experian Marketing Services)
- Second screen usage continues to transform TV watchers into mobile shoppers, with 45 percent of tablet users and 39 percent of smartphone users surfing the Web while watching television. An additional 16 percent of tablet users and 15 percent of smartphone users also expect to research products and prices in the same fashion. (G/O Digital)
- Seventy-two percent of Millennials plan to shop via mobile this holiday season, as compared to 54 percent of Baby Boomers. Yet, while most turn to their phones to conduct research (51 percent), compare prices (46 percent), and browse (44 percent), few will complete transactions via mobile, citing frustration with small screens as the top purchase barrier (74 percent). (RichRelevance)
- Of those shoppers ages 18-34, 22.2 percent use mobile apps, such as Google Wallet and Apple Pay, to purchase items while inside physical store locations. (Burst Media)
- While Apple users (89 percent) are more likely to buy directly from their devices than Android users (85 percent), Android users (51 percent) prefer mobile shopping on their smartphones than Apple users (48 percent). Apple users, however, are more likely to spend the same amount or more on holiday purchases this year than Android users (86 percent vs. 80 percent). (Retale)
Key takeaway: Overall, it's difficult to formulate generalized assumptions about any consumer segment, as each shopper exhibits their own unique behaviors. However, data collected throughout the year can provide retailers with the insight necessary to predict holiday trends more accurately. Improved accessibility will continue to alter how shoppers interact with retailers regardless of the occasion. Thus, marketers must look to hone their customer strategies no matter when the opportunity strikes, as processes must evolve alongside the consumer at all times. The holiday season may encourage many retailers to sit up and take notice, but such vigilance must remain alive and well all year long to ensure consistent progress and success.