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    Strategies for Winning Cross-Channel Holiday Shoppers

    Survey informs multichannel merchants as they entice cost-conscious consumers

    A one-of-a-kind survey reveals that 44 percent of shoppers plan to do their holiday gift buying on the Internet this year, compared to 37 percent in 2009.

    That’s just one of the revelations of the 2010 Mindset of a Multi-Channel Shopper Survey, conducted by MarketLive Inc. and the E-tailing Group.

    Forty-eight percent of shoppers intend to purchase between six and 15 gifts, on par with 2009. And 39 percent intend to complete holiday purchasing by early December, indicating a potentially strong start to the season. The survey also shows that 64 percent of shoppers plan to spend between $100 and $500 on holiday gifts for family and friends.

    These trends, and other insights into the holiday shopper mindset, were revealed through polling of 1,000 consumers during September 2010. The insights allow multichannel retailers to refine their marketing, merchandising and promotions strategies to effectively reach holiday shoppers. Retailers that are in tune with the mindset of their shoppers are poised to achieve the strongest results during the 2010 holiday shopping season.

    “This important survey offers a unique view of the holiday season because it is completely focused on the consumer mindset,” said Ken Burke, MarketLive founder and chairman. “It offers useful consumer insights that can inform retailers and drive greater results. It’s clear that even though retailers are experiencing momentum as the holiday season approaches, it is critical to engage customers with relevant offers and compelling shopping experiences to entice them to make a transaction. One-to-one marketing, segmentation, sophisticated email promotions and new avenues of reaching shoppers such as social sites and smartphones will draw shoppers to retail sites. The most compelling on-site experiences will then convert browsers into buyers, and will deliver optimal results this season.”

    The majority of holiday purchases will be transacted online and gift cards will be purchased by 74 percent of shoppers. They are projected to account for about half of online holiday spending. Locating hard-to-find products and saving time are the two most frequently cited reasons for buying gifts online according to consumers polled during the survey. Online shoppers state that avoiding crowds, saving money and shipping ease are also important motivators for shopping online this holiday season.

    Finally, 67 percent stated that they plan to research gifts online prior to purchasing, indicating the critical role of branding and consistent and compelling customer experiences across channels. Books, clothing, music, gift certificates, toys and consumer electronics are the top product categories shoppers are likely to purchase online this holiday season.

    Promotions and merchandising strategies should consider the 45 percent of respondents who stated that they would not pay full price for gifts this holiday season. However, 38 percent of respondents also emphasized that they would make an exception for hard-to-find items that a friend or family member has specifically requested. Free shipping (92 percent) and free returns (81 percent) remain the promotional features with the highest ratings for influencing shoppers to make a purchase and must be strategically factored into merchant offerings.

    Although consumers state that they would prefer to receive emails with less frequency, 40 percent of shoppers who have opted in still prefer to receive e-mails weekly versus 43 percent last year. Relevant, value added offers remain compelling for holiday consumers. Free shipping (87 percent) and sales or markdowns (83 percent) are still the most desirable type of e-mail offer, while coupons (75 percent) and in-store promotions (61 percent) increased in favor this year.

    Thirty-six percent of shoppers will take advantage of their mobile devices for shopping this holiday season. Also worth noting is that some shoppers stated a desire to remain loyal to retailers or brands. However, research also shows that most (61 percent) will be lost to competitors’ websites when they encounter out-of-stock products this holiday season.

    Since 1995, MarketLive Inc. has provided enterprise-class e-commerce retail technology and services that help fast-growing companies successfully sell goods and services online.

    The E-tailing Group is a niche e-commerce consultancy that helps merchants deliver the right customer experience on their websites and across all of their channels .

     

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