Holiday Shopping Predictions in a Multichannel World

Showrooming Holiday Shopping

As you know, we have been watching the holiday shopping season very closely and have covered topics ranging from how mobile can help improve the holiday shopping experience to the customer experience lessons from Black Friday and Cyber Monday.

It’s absolutely no secret that newer channels – we’re looking at you mobile and social – are going to impact shopping behaviors and future retail strategies during the upcoming holiday season. But what do these channels mean for the customer experience?

After taking a look at the data floating around following the first two full official shopping weeks, here’s how we see the holiday buying season playing out across the different channels:

Social media

A title from Laura Heller’s recent post on Point of Purchase says it all: Social Media Loses Big with Holiday Shoppers.

Referencing IBM’s Digital Analytics Benchmark report, Laura calls out “shoppers referred from social networks such as Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn and YouTube generated less than one percent of all online sales on Black Friday, a decrease of more than 35% from 2011.”

While the future of social media commerce looks bleak (for now), there is still a huge opportunity to leverage each and every network to create a customer service community. As we have found in our recent survey, customer service is an ongoing experience with 14 percent of customers confirming they are likely to tell their friends about their customer service experiences online.

Our prediction: Social media will tank as a sales channel, but will be a critical tool in how businesses engage and listen to their customers this holiday season.

Online

E-commerce sales hit a record high this year, with 57 million shoppers visiting online retail sites on Black Friday alone, and sales exceeding $1 billion for the first time ever. As impressive as this is, 6 out of 10 shoppers ran into trouble making online purchases and then reported unnecessarily long or even dropped calls to customer service. This kind of experience will not only lead to a lost sale, but also to a potentially lost customer.

This aligns with the Cyber Monday stories we’ve been hearing about crashing sites and online shopping carts freezing up.

Our prediction: Online commerce will continue to remain a core player in the holiday shopping season, but all retailers will need to implement the resources to create a personalized customer experience and to create a reliable site to eliminate abandoned or crashed carts.

Mobile:

In the 2012 shopping season, we have seen mobile transactions increase more than 96 percent since 2011 and 24% of consumers are now browsing retail sites from their mobile devices.

That said, mobile is still not the go-to destination for consumers and is still used as a personal assistant. For example, there are thousands of mobile apps that help shoppers organize their shopping purchases and retailers are introducing scanning capabilities to give shoppers insight on the availability of a product. As great as being organized is, it’s time mobile helps consumers become transactional.

Our prediction: Mobile will be the hands-down winner this holiday season, but mobile success in 2013 will depend on businesses identifying new ways mobile can be used to streamline and improve the customer experience.

What do you think of these predictions – agree? Disagree? Interested to hear how you’re feeling as a customer this holiday shopping season.

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About the Author: Lisa P. Bonanno serves as the Director of Corporate Marketing. As a marketing veteran, Lisa sets the vision and direction of Angel's marketing strategy to build brand equity and drive revenue growth. Prior to joining Angel, Lisa led the high-profile B2C Signature Program, Help the Homeless, at Fannie Mae and grew it year over year under her leadership. She holds a Bachelors of Science Business Administration degree in marketing from American University and a MBA from Marymount University.

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