Consumers will utilize social media, research and online shopping more than ever this holiday season, and they aren’t afraid to move across channels for a better experience.
Forty-three percent of shoppers will buy more than half of their holiday purchases on Amazon, according to new research from digital commerce agency Astound Commerce. The firm’s 2016 Omnichannel Holiday Shopping Survey found that retailer success in 2016 is crucial to consumer choice in 2017, and uncovered additional consumer preferences and behavior.
“While the holiday shopping season has always been a critical time for retailers, this research shares an in-depth perspective on the consumer buying process to help us understand exactly what will drive consumers to purchase,” said Igor Gorin, CEO of Astound Commerce, in a news release. “Consumer behavior patterns and reasons for purchasing are important barometers for retailers. Millennials alone hold more than $200 billion in buying power, so it’s particularly important for retailers who target this audience to take note of this group’s purchase influencers.”
Astound Commerce surveyed more than 1,000 consumers to determine key shopping influencers, online shopping behavior, in-store experience drivers and social commerce preferences to help retailers understand what will drive consumers to buy. The study reveals the top five influencing factors when selecting a retailer during the holiday season are:
◾Right price (79 percent)
◾Free shipping (68 percent)
◾Product in stock and ready to ship (67 percent)
◾Past experience with a retailer (64 percent)
◾Guaranteed on time delivery (62 percent)
The influence of social media varies based on the platform. Findings indicate consumers will use the following social channels for different purposes:
◾Facebook: Shoppers utilize Facebook most often for customer service (75 percent), hunting for deals and sharing products (69 percent) and making purchases (59 percent).
◾Pinterest: This platform is used to keep abreast of trends (37 percent) and purchasing (23 percent), where women express greater interest.
◾YouTube: The power of YouTube lies in easy consumption of video (59 percent), but it is also used to make purchases (26 percent) and find peer reviews (26 percent).
Specific Online Behaviors Become More Prevalent
To better understand which online shopping behaviors will become more prevalent, the survey asked consumers about what activities they will do “more” of this holiday season. The results show that millennial buying patterns will change more drastically than other consumer groups:
◾Mobile orders will become more common: Forty-six percent of millennials will order more products on their mobile devices, as opposed to an average of 36 percent among respondents.
◾More purchases will be made on Amazon: Fifty-two percent of millennials will purchase more products from Amazon, as opposed to 46 percent of average respondents.
◾Flexible delivery options will be leveraged more: Twenty-nine percent of millennials will use same day delivery options more, as opposed to 23 percent of average respondents.
“In the game against Amazon, better prices and special discounts are some of the best ways for retailers to drive consumers away from Amazon and towards their site,” said Lauren Freedman, SVP of digital strategy and chief merchant of Astound Commerce, in the release. “But these findings indicate there are other options to compete with the ecommerce behemoth for retailers that can’t lower their prices. One in four consumers said they would leave Amazon for a retailer’s site for more curated assortments, such as exclusive or unique products.”
The In-Store Experience
As the commerce experience continues to evolve, the role of the physical store and the value of the in-store associate has become less clear. The study found that the in-store experience is still an important part of the holiday shopping process, but digital is playing a larger role. Key in-store insights include:
◾Sales Associates: Although 55 percent would rather interact with technology over a sales associate, 69 percent say that positive interactions with sales associates are an important purchasing factor.
◾In-Store Technology: Three in four shoppers desire precision technology in store, such as in-store mapping, mobile notifications about products in their shopping cart, and touch-screen kiosks.
◾Mobile Dependency: Shoppers rely on mobile while in store to compare prices for cost savings on Amazon (76 percent), checking for coupons and promotions (71 percent)—while accessing ratings and reviews lends confidence to purchasing.