Are You Ready? Hints and Tips to Prepare for Christmas

By Julian Thumm | 29 Oct 2015

Deloitte’s 2015 holiday survey provides a range of insights into consumer habits in the lead up to Christmas. Power Retail has trawled the report for the key tips and trends.

With the Christmas shopping period fast approaching, it’s important to be as prepared as possible.

Deloitte’s 2015 US holiday survey of consumer intentions offers a range of useful tips and insights. Power Retail trawled this lengthy report to extract the most useful online and multichannel tips and trends to help you prepare for the holiday season.

Digital destinations

While huge numbers of people will hit the shopping malls and department stores in the lead up to Christmas, Deloitte’s survey suggests that online stores are set to top the list of consumer destinations this year.

Deloitte chart 1

This provides a massive opportunity for online retailers. While the purchasing may not always take place online (with preliminary online research a growing component of the sale cycle), this does mean a massive number of shoppers moving through online stores. And more visitors means more opportunities for conversion.

Despite this, respondents identified a range of reasons why they would still choose to finalise their purchase in a physical store. Over half the respondents (54 percent) reported the ability to see and touch the product was the primary reason they would choose to shop in a physical store. Not surprisingly, the desire to avoid shipping costs was the second most common reason to avoid online stores.

Deloitte chart 2

Omni-channel trends

The survey examined omni-channel shopping trends and found that “webrooming”—looking at products online, but then purchasing them in a physical store—is becoming more popular, with 69 percent of respondents indicating this behaviour (compared with 58 percent in 2014). Curiously, webrooming remains more popular that “showrooming”—i.e. looking at a product in-store first, then buying it online. To capitalise on this trend, retailers need to ensure a seamless shopping experience across all devices and in-store. A crucial part of this is ensuring that store staff are familiar with and have immediate access to the store website, to facilitate in-store sales that originated online.

Click and collect is also becoming increasingly popular, with 43 percent indicating they are likely to shop this way over the holiday period. Click and collect has become more popular as shoppers look to avoid shipping costs and get their purchases faster. This provides a massive opportunity, as click and collect services help to reduce logistics costs for retailers. Retailers would do well to push click and collect services this Christmas, and could look to incentivise shoppers to make use of this service.

Deloitte chart 3

Online security

Personal data security remains a concern for shoppers, especially for retailers that have recently experienced a data breach. Privacy concerns are also weighing on shoppers minds, with many customers concerned about retailers accessing their personal information through their smartphones. These concerns, however, can be managed, with 35 percent of shoppers indicating that they are more likely to shop at a retailer that educates customers on the methods used to secure, and the uses of, personal data.

Online venue familiarity also helps to lower the perceived risk among shoppers. Customers indicate that they feel safer shopping at online stores that they (72 percent) or others they know (54 percent) had shopped in the past.

Beyond educating consumers on personal data acquisition and retention, online retailers can look at encouraging consumers to share or promote their sites with others, perhaps through an incentive program. This can help lower the perceived risk among shoppers and encourage new shoppers to try the sites.

Deloite chart 4

The importance of online research channels

Online research will be a powerful driver of purchases this Christmas period. The survey suggests that online research will influence 51 percent of purchases over the period. Mobile research is expected to be especially prevalent, with 78 percent of consumers intending to use their smartphones for holiday shopping. The survey identified searching for store locations, comparing prices, and browsing as the top three smartphone shopping uses. To capitalise on this, retailers need to make sure that their websites are mobile optimised, and that the prices and range offered online match what is available in-store (for multichannel retailers).

Deloittle chart 5

Interestingly, an increasing amount of online shopping research will be done through social media. Half the respondents intend to use social media to assist with holiday shopping. Consumers list gift ideas, discounts, sale information, and reviews and recommendations as the primary reasons for getting onto social media for Christmas shopping.

Deloittle chart 6

Shipping and returns

In the lead up to Christmas, it’s important to remember the bookend moments: shipping and returns.

When asked what retail offerings will shoppers look to take advantage of this Christmas season, free shipping and easy returns were two of the most common responses (72 percent and 55 percent, respectively).

The survey revealed that free shipping is more important to customers than fast shipping (where fast shipping means two days or fewer). However, you can expect this to change as Christmas gets closer and last minute shopping gets more frantic.

While free shipping simply isn’t economically viable for many retailers, those that can afford to offer it will have a huge leg-up in terms of bringing in shoppers. For retailers that can’t afford to offer free shipping, consider offering free shipping windows in the lead up to Christmas, particularly through November to try to draw in early spenders.

It’s important to make shipping and returns policies and processes as visible and simple as possible. Shoppers don’t want to have to hunt through a website for these policies and definitely don’t want to have to take an item through to the checkout to find out what the policies are.

Also be aware of customer shipping expectations. Some shoppers may expect an item ordered on 23rd December to be at their door by the 24th. Make sure your delivery cut-off dates costs are clearly visible on your website as early as possible this season.

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