What Consumers Expect of Retailers This Holiday Season
The holiday season is upon us, and we're seeing many retailers turn to next-gen technologies in an effort to convert more shoppers. For instance, Swarovski and Mastercard have partnered to offer a virtual reality shopping app, while Wal-Mart and Amazon.com have plans to deliver goods inside people’s homes even when no one is there.
But the main key to success for retailers this holiday season will be to understand what consumers really want in today’s dynamic shopping landscape. Therefore, here at IFTTT, we decided to get to the root of that with a survey of over 1,000 U.S. consumers to find out what they expect this holiday shopping season.
Fa La La Frustrations
Given the shift in consumer behavior and the evolving retail landscape, it’s important that retailers get ahead of shoppers’ expectations. This includes their biggest annoyances during the holiday season. Our survey found that delayed deliveries from online shopping (28 percent) and long checkout lines (21 percent) are top gripes.
Perhaps because of these frustrations, consumers are turning to e-commerce for their needs. This doesn’t mean that brick-and-mortar shopping is dead; it means retailers will have to invest time to really consider the major benefits of e-commerce, and how they can stay relevant.
For instance, 19 percent of consumers say that online shopping saves time, so retailers could add more cashiers or self-checkout terminals, as well organize the store for quick shopping trips. Additionally, 20 percent of consumers prefer online shopping because of the 24/7 access and convenience. With this in mind, brick-and-mortar retailers should consider extending holiday hours to accommodate shoppers’ busy schedules.
On the flip side, there are some benefits to shopping in-store that internet retailers can integrate into their own strategies. Seventy-two percent of consumers say they can better evaluate products in-store than they can online, so perhaps e-tailers should consider publishing multiple photos, product descriptions and user reviews for each product on their site.
Easy Does It
Additional insights from the survey show shoppers are gravitating toward easy ordering services like one-touch checkout and product subscriptions (i.e., set it and forget it).
Shopping at home with voice assistants can be as easy as, “Alexa, add holiday lights and wrapping paper to my shopping cart.” At least 36 percent of survey respondents agree that they would rather shop at home with Alexa or Siri than go to the mall with family or friends.
In addition to virtual assistants and connected devices, consumers also are fans of one-touch checkout online. Thirty-six percent of consumers use at least one retail subscription service, and more than half are interested in them — think Stitch Fix, BarkBox, Harry’s.
The good news for traditional retailers is that consumers aren’t completely abandoning in-store shopping. Only 34 percent of consumers opt to shop online more than in-store.
The Move to Mobile
Consumers are also relying more on their mobile devices for holiday shopping. According to the survey, 64 percent have downloaded at least one retail app in the last year. Furthermore, at least 14 percent of respondents said they use their mobile wallet for shopping.
Some respondents said they prefer to receive holiday marketing material through their mobile apps or SMS, and at least 12 percent like to receive it via social media.
Given these findings, retailers should consider implementing mobile into their holiday shopping strategy, whether that be through a mobile app or by offering deals through social media and mobile-optimized email.
Deals for Days
Forty-one percent of shoppers don’t expect in-store discounts to exceed 30 percent this holiday season, and 32 percent expect the same for online discounts. However, there is a group that expects ambitious savings, as 6 percent and 7 percent expect discounts of 70 percent or higher in-store and online, respectively.
As we see consumer preferences continue to shift, retailers’ best holiday strategy is to head into the season with as much intel as possible and offer services and discounts accordingly.
Anne Mercogliano is the vice president of marketing and business operations, IFTTT, a free web-based service to create applets.
Related story: Connected Devices: The New Route to Personalization