Several Factors Determine Holiday Season Success for Retailers

Every channel in the shopper’s path to purchase is expected to play a major role this holiday season, according to a study by Astound Commerce that detailed several key success factors for retailers.

“Brands and retailers have to make sure they can get products to consumers when they want them and how they want them, as efficiency is top of mind for shoppers,” said Lauren Freedman, Senior Vice President of Digital Strategy for Astound Commerce.

Price and Free Shipping Drives Purchase

Astound’s research found the top consideration for consumers this holiday season is price. In projecting behavior for the holidays, according to Astound, over 50% of consumers will start shopping early for price promotions, looking for coupons and discounts and gravitating toward free shipping.

Astound found that price drives these top three “always” purchase factors:  Right price (78%), free shipping (71%) and valuable promotions (60%).

The top two logistics features that decide in favor of a retailer, according to Astound, are having a product in stock and ready to ship (73%) and fast delivery (66%).

Free shipping is the number one factor outside of price that consumers care about, according to Astound, ranking ahead of product assortment, shipping speed, convenience and loyalty programs.

Amazon and Marketplaces Play Major Role

Forty-percent of consumers said they will make half of their purchases on Amazon this holiday season. The dominance of Amazon has also opened up opportunities for other marketplaces. Sixty-nine percent of consumers said they will choose marketplaces over retailers based on price this holiday season More than half of consumers rank Amazon as the number-one marketplace for lowest prices, speed of shipping and broad assortment, according to Astound, while less than 25% of them rank brands and large stores at the top of the same categories.

Sixty-three percent of shoppers will purchase from Amazon this season, while 60% will purchase from Walmart.com and 45% will buy from eBay, according to Astound.

Loyalty programs like Amazon Prime are also major purchase drivers. Forty-one percent of online shoppers said they will always make a purchase from a particular retailer based on their participation in a loyalty program.

New Channels and Experience Peak Consumer Interest

While digital storefronts are the main focus for the holidays, according to Astound, stores and social media will also play a critical role. Social media will be a leading traffic driver to ecommerce sites, and 66% of consumers said they will still go to physical stores to touch and feel products before purchasing.

Nearly a third of consumers (32%) are highly likely to use touchscreens or kiosks in stores to find products, place orders or select delivery options, Astound said, and 27% of shoppers said they expect to use some type of virtual reality device to assist in product selection.

Fifty-nine percent of millennials said they have made a purchase as a result of a social engagement in the past, according to Astound, somewhat higher than all consumers surveyed (50%). More than half of millennials (55%) will be prompted to visit a website from a social media page, compared to 45% of total respondents.

A quality mobile app or web experience will cause four in 10 consumers to make a purchase from a retailer, according to Astound, while nearly 40% of them said they plan to order more products on mobile this year than they did last year.

“Brands and retailers must have a sophisticated set of programs, capabilities and customer service in place to grab their share of consumer dollars during the holidays, with innovation always on the horizon,” said Freedman. “Marketplaces are well poised to continue their impressive growth, but competitors can leverage their physical stores and social media presence to entice customers to choose them instead.”

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