Online holiday shopping has become increasingly popular during the last three years, and the trend is expected to continue this season. Online shoppers in the U.S. are projected to spend $54.47 billion this holiday season, nearly a 17 percent increase over the $46.63 billion last year, according to MarketLive, an e-commerce software and solutions provider.
In its fourth year, the “Mindset of a Multi-Channel Shopper” report, released last Wednesday, provides retailers with timely insights into the rapidly changing arena of shopping online (including increasingly via mobile devices). The study, commissioned by MarketLive and conducted by e-commerce consultancy e-tailing Group, surveyed a total of 1,136 consumers who completed the online questionnaire last month. The respondents consisted of 50 percent males, 50 percent females; and 61 percent who shop at least several times per month.
The online sales forecast for the holiday season (defined as sales in November and December) marks the fourth consecutive year that online holiday sales will post annual growth in the mid-to-high teens, after sinking 8.2% during the recession in 2008, according to Lauren Freedman, president of the e-tailing Group.
Several of the survey’s key findings include:
- In 2012, customers will spend about the same amount on holiday gifts as last year—but a greater share of that spending will be online. 33 percent of the respondents say the will do ‘All’ or ‘Most’ of their shopping on the Internet this holiday season. That’s a 25 percent increase from 2011.
- Mobile will be used heavily for researching deals, making purchases and connecting with merchants across channels. 16 percent of the consumers questioned plan to do ‘All’ or ‘Most’ of their shopping via a smartphone or tablet this holiday season—that’s up from just 3 percent who planned to shop via a mobile device last year.
- Value is the key that will drive purchase decisions. When asked about the most important factors in choosing merchants to shop online this season, ‘Good Value’ was number one with 87 percent of the shoppers saying that value was ‘Most’ or ‘Somewhat’ important. Price came in second, with 85 percent.
- Online peer recommendations/reviews. 45 percent of the shoppers surveyed this year believe online reviews are ‘Very’ or ‘Somewhat Important,’ as opposed to 34 percent last year.
- Finding more personalized gifts. 50 percent of shoppers said this was a ‘Very’ or ‘Somewhat Important’ reason for buying online, versus only 41 percent last year.
With most of the holiday shopping taking place in the first half of December, online retailers are hoping to reach price-driven consumers by offering limited-time branded sales events on key dates in the early and late parts of the shopping season. In addition to offering sales on event days like Cyber Monday, online merchants plan to entice shoppers with discount offers and exclusives, and hopefully get them to spread the word about the offers via social networks like Facebook and Twitter.