Brits turn to the Net as online Christmas shopping overtakes in-store spend

SDL, the customer experience centre management company, has released new research which reveals consumers plan to spend the majority of their Christmas shopping budget online this December.  The research was carried out by the Campaign Management & Analytics division of SDL who are expert in enabling retailers to analyse and understand consumer behaviour across purchase channels.

The research, which surveyed 2,000 adults in the UK, put internet shopping far ahead of in-store , with over half of spend going online. Interestingly, nearly ten per cent  of online shopping will take place on a smartphone, tablet or iPad, with 25-34 year olds most likely to buy Christmas gifts through a mobile device or tablet.

These findings demonstrate a multi-channel approach to shopping in the UK this Christmas, making it all the more important for retailers to optimize the customer experience whether in-store or online.

According to this survey, consumers do still like an in-store experience in order to interact physically with a product, and many research gifts in-store before buying through a different channel, a practice called 'showrooming'. More than half (55.8%) of adults surveyed said they have purposely visited a store to review products they plan to purchase online. Savvy retailers are embracing showrooming by finding ways to encourage in-store browsers to connect with the brand online.

"While the data from those surveyed showed that more money will be spent online, the physical store is still very important and we believe the shopping season will be made up of customers experiencing brands through multiple channels," said Bob Hale, CEO of SDL Campaign Management & Analytics division. "Understanding and engaging customers based on their preferred use of each channel creates a customer experience consumers will value during Christmas and all year round."

The research points to a clear need for retailers to ensure they are listening to customers across all of the consumer touch points. SDL Campaign Management & Analytics provides retailers with the tools to do this effectively and evolve their marketing, using the three step "Listen. Understand. Engage." process.

Additional findings

Other highlights from the SDL survey supporting the importance of a positive customer experience across multiple channels during the Christmas shopping season include:

  • Convenience and price are the top factors influencing Christmas shopping decision making online, with online discounts (36.8%), getting the best deal (31.9%) and the convenience of being at home (30.9) holding the most importance
  • In-store decisions to purchase are influenced most by the opportunity to evaluate products in person (44.5%), followed closely by the lack of shipping costs (39.2%) and in-store discounts (39%).
  • Despite the buzz just 2.3% said they would use Pinterest for research, 6.1% would use Google+ and 19% are influenced by online reviews 
  • More than half of people choose to do their shopping online and at home outside of working hours (56.2%)
  • Over two thirds (66.7%) have compared in store and online prices for items while on the High Street
  • Nearly two thirds (65.8%) of shoppers are influenced by returns policies
  • Customer service is highly valued with over half (54.4%) of shoppers being influenced by in-store assistance

This UK specific research follows a survey carried out in the US by SDL in relation to a similar topic, the results can be viewed here - http://www.sdl.com/aboutus/news/pressreleases/2012/survey-finds-holiday-shoppers-prefer-in-store-experience-to-online-shopping-this-season.html

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