Consumers Opt to Shop Online This Holiday Season
GfK's Future Buy research reveals that the online shopping experience is resonating more with consumers than the in-store experience. The study found that consumers rate online shopping significantly higher for nearly all attributes that result in a winning experience. In fact, there's not a single major attribute where the in-store experience is rated higher than online. One can surmise that retailers first priority should be to deliver the same shopping experience in-store as they are online.
Only 11 percent of all consumers surveyed plan to spend more this holiday season than last. Another 84 percent say that they intend to spend the same or less vs. last year. These sobering numbers place even more pressure on the competition between brick-and-mortar retailers and their online counterparts for consumer dollars. What shopping experience is likely to yield the greatest share of consumer spending?
Not surprisingly, finding the best price is the most important factor to 96 percent of all consumers. Trailing closely behind at 90 percent is an easy-to-find product with free shipping. Even at this relatively late point in the shopping season, GfK recommends that all marketers look at merchandising one last time with a fresh set of eyes and ask themselves if there's anything else that they can do to help shoppers find the products they want faster and more easily. The good news is that one can enhance this part of the shopping experience using simple, inexpensive techniques with thoughtful signage and reinforcing the need for it during training.
Finally, the survey learned the priorities of the most aggressive and highest potential shoppers this holiday season. They include (in order of priority): durability, extent of usefulness, overall value, simplicity, hassle-free returns, enjoyment of the product that improves lifestyle and simplicity. Regardless of shopping venue, remember that price without usefulness or durability means little.
Shoppers are seeking the shortest distance between their need for a product and their ability to obtain it at the best price and value. They're short on money and time. They expect retailers to provide the fastest and most productive path to purchase. There's still time to consider consumer priorities and emphasize them in your final preparations.
Lew Paine is senior vice president, consulting, consumer and retail at GfK Custom Research.