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This holiday season, it will be more important than ever for businesses to be “holiday ready” in multiple digital channels—beyond just their website. LivePerson recently surveyed 500 consumers about their holiday shopping habits and how digital tools and channels are impacting their preferences this season. The results reveal that today’s consumer is hyper-connected and digitally savvy, with a clear preference when it comes to how they want to interact with brands, and how they’d like to receive customer service during the busy holiday shopping season.
The survey shows that 63% of consumers are planning to do a majority of their holiday shopping online. Also, a third of shoppers are starting their gift-buying earlier than ever, perhaps to beat the holiday rush.
Here are the full findings of LivePerson’s Holiday eCommerce Survey:
Retailers need to get ready for the holiday season as early as September. Nearly one-third of shoppers (29%) start their gift-buying before October, and a majority (72%) start their holiday shopping before Thanksgiving (November 22nd).
It seems that many shoppers want to avoid the Black Friday madness. One in four (25%) consumers plan to do a majority of their holiday shopping before Thanksgiving, and 23 percent plan to do their shopping during the first two weeks of December. Black Friday, however, is still a sizeable event, as 17 percent of respondents will do a majority of their shopping on this day.
The survey reveals a brighter economic outlook. A majority of shoppers (68%) expect to spend the same or more this holiday season than they did in the last holiday season. In addition, 41 percent of the consumers surveyed expect to spend more than $500 on gifts this season and 21 percent expect to spend more than $700.
So, what are consumers buying this season? It seems that scarves and sweaters will beat out cameras and tablets—the top three gifts that consumers will purchase are: clothing, electronics, and toys or games, in that order.
It seems that today’s consumer prefers to surf the web than brave the mall for gifts. Moreover, today’s shopper is hyper-connected and wants to interact with companies in multiple channels via multiple devices, now more than ever.
63 percent of shoppers are planning on doing a majority of their holiday shopping online. Tablets are also getting a great deal of mileage by consumers: 65 percent of consumers expect to use their tablet device for online shopping, and rank the tablet as one of their primary devices for online shopping.
Consumers clearly know how to leverage social networks, using each platform for a unique purpose this holiday season. Twitter is the favored channel for reading product reviews (70%), Facebook is the go-to network for finding discounts (75%), and Pinterest is preferred for researching gift ideas (73%).
Companies need to focus on meaningfully engaging consumers in social channels, if they aren’t already. About 40 percent of respondents using social media this holiday shopping season plan to use Twitter and Facebook to interact with companies, whether it’s to tweet a question, post a comment on a company’s Facebook fan-page, request customer service, etc. Businesses will have a unique opportunity to build loyalty through a thoughtful social strategy, optimized for each platform, this holiday season.
Live chat was chosen as the preferred channel of communication to receive customer service during the holiday season (45%), when compared to email and toll-free numbers (tied at 27%). 94 percent of these respondents are likely to use live chat to get help online while holiday shopping. 40 percent of shoppers would likely use live chat on their mobile device to get assistance if it were available – perfect for noisy toy-stores or when you can’t find help in-store. Now is the time for businesses to think about offering real-time support on their websites, via mobile devices, and social channels.
A majority of those surveyed own a smartphone or tablet device (62%), so it’s no surprise that many are demanding a good mobile shopping experience. 50 percent of respondents say it’s important for a company to have a mobile app or a mobile-optimized website—meaning a one-size-fits all approach will not work. Consumers want a shopping experience optimized for the small screen, rather than a replication of the desktop/laptop experience. What’s more, shoppers want to interact with brands in real-time via their mobile devices-- as mentioned previously, 40 percent would use live chat on their mobile device to get real-time help if it were available.
The survey polled 500 consumers over the age of 18 who have shopped online at least twice in the past three months and plan to shop online this holiday season, about how online tools and channels are impacting their shopping preferences this holiday season.