First Time Ever: Multi-Channel Holiday Shoppers Prefer Web to In-Store

October 15, 2008

This article is included in these additional categories:

Paid Search | Retail & E-Commerce

For the first time, the web has surpassed the store as the preferred way for multi-channel shoppers to purchase holiday gifts, according to the e-tailing group‘s third annual “Mindset of the Multi-Channel Shopper Holiday Survey,” sponsored by ATG, Retailer Daily reports.

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Nearly half (49%) of those shoppers say they intend to do their holiday gift buying online, compared with 44% who plan to do so in-store, found the online survey of over 1,000 adults who shop online four or more times per year, spending at least $500 annually.

Other key findings:

  • Reasons for shopping online start with saving time (88%), locating hard-to-find products (84%), greater selection (83%) and avoiding the crowds at the mall (83%) – all surpassing saving money, which is still an important factor (80%).

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  • Because of the tough economic climate, 52% of consumers plan to buy fewer holiday gifts this year. The average number of gifts is projected to be down from 16+ last year to 11-15 this year
  • Although consumers plan to buy fewer gifts and spend less for those gifts, 72% (vs. 65% in 2007) are planning to research products online prior to purchasing.
  • Over 91% plan to purchase the same number or somewhat more gifts online; that’s equal to last year’s levels.

“Value spending is definitely the mantra as these multitasking consumers watch and monitor the web to get the best deals,” said Lauren Freedman, president of the e-tailing group. “Holiday gift buying is particularly impacted by this propensity for shopping smart as consumers preview online to get the most for their money.”

Convenience and efficiency have clearly made shoppers more comfortable with the online channel, as evidenced by more products’ being sold across a broader range of categories as well as increased usage of tools and information, according to the e-tailing group.

Additional findings:

  • The No. 1 customer reason for not buying more online is the high cost of shipping; that’s according to 78% of those surveyed:

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  • Free shipping (95%) and sales/specials (83%) are at or near the top of the list of what influences the buying of gifts online; another is keyword search (86%).
  • For 42% (vs. 30% last year), gift cards will account for 11-50% of their online holiday spending. Wish-list use has also accelerated, with 35% (vs. 25% last year) reporting that they have shopped online from someone else’s wish list three or more times.

“Although the internet is now the shoppers’ channel of choice, economic pressures are making the stakes high for merchants. They need to continually learn from and react to their customer’s multi-channel demands,” cautioned Kelly O’Neill, e-commerce marketing director for ATG. “It is imperative that practical solutions be deployed wisely throughout the holiday season and into 2009.”

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