Study: 75% Plan to Shop Online & Offline this Holiday Season

According to a PwC annual survey of 2,000 consumers, 75% plan to shop both online and in-store during the holiday season this year, and this group is expected to spend more than those that shop only online or only in-store. While this isn’t shocking, it reinforces the idea that consumers aren’t looking at online and in-store as either or. Instead they are compliments.

Additionally, mobile devices will play an increasingly bigger role in the path to purchase this holiday season. The percentage of consumers who will use their smartphones for shopping will grow to 16%, up from 12% last year.

This presents a number of interesting issues related to the overall brand experience. From mobile optimized websites and ecommerce capabilities, to in-store layouts and displays, the holiday season will impact brands and SMBs in many ways, but the level of impact will vary between the two.

Everything boils down to the customer experience. Whether browsing a small boutique retailer or heading to a big box store, consumers are increasingly motivated by the experience each will offer. According to the PwC study, after value, consumers said they wanted a “stress free experience.”

In-store this might mean making sure the store is aesthetically pleasing, the product displays aren’t cluttered and the store has a layout conducive for easy browsing. Online this means mobile optimized websites that are easy to navigate and offer product information. Additionally, accurately showing whether a product is in-store or not will also aid in delivering a stress-free experience online and offline.

One of the biggest areas for increased competition from both brands and SMBs is on the ecommerce side. While Amazon brings in roughly half of all online sales, new data suggests some are starting to capture share in competitive categories.

According to a report from Jumpshot, in Q2 H&M grew share of women’s clothing online sales by 77% while Amazon dropped 30%. While Amazon still accounts for 42% of online sales in this category, a number of its competitors grew (Walmart, JCPenny, Kohl’s, Macy’s) and Amazon dipped. The same situation occurred in the home improvement category as well.

From the SMB perspective, while Amazon is the quick, short-term path to ecommerce, selling directly from the business website is a long-term strategy. Assuming an SMB is dedicated to building an audience, improving SEO, managing its reputation, engaging socially, in time, all of those activities will result in traffic. Owning that activity and turning this traffic into online sales will be more profitable in the long-run.

Regardless of the strategy a brand or an SMB decides to take, the consumer doesn’t really care. Instead they are simply reacting to the experience in an intuitive way. Marketers are often the drivers of this experience and need to ask themselves if they are delivering customers and potential customers a “stress free experience” online and offline.

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