How Much Has Holiday Shopping Moved Online?

Dec 04, 2017 — Megan Howse
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If you do any holiday shopping—and chances are you do—then you've probably noticed that the way you shop has changed in the last few years. Gone are the days of getting ads in the newspaper, scanning all of them for the best Black Friday prices, and heading to a store in hopes that they still have the one thing you want.

With the move to e-commerce, you no longer need to leave your couch to buy the best gifts of the season. Yet, brick-and-mortar shopping is still alive and well. So, just how much has holiday shopping moved online? We break down what’s happening in the retail industry this holiday season, and how retail revolutions are expected to impact the busiest sales season of the year.

Holiday sales are flocking online

By all accounts, 2017 will be the biggest online shopping season ever. eMarketer found that during the 2016 holiday shopping season, e-commerce sales rose by 17.8%. They predict this upward trend to continue in 2017, with e-commerce climbing an additional 15.8%. Adobe forecasts that total online sales for the season will top $100 billion, with one-fifth of those sales coming in the five days between Thanksgiving and Cyber Monday. It’s easy to see why any retailer needs to have a robust online presence.

Mobile is the preeminent shopping portal

Mobile is the preeminent shopping portal

Up to 54% of all visits to e-commerce sites will come from tablets and smartphones this holiday season. This is the first time in history that more traffic is coming from mobile than desktop. Retailers must be cautious, however, about going all in for mobile. According to Adobe, more purchases are still made on desktops, and customers expect the experience to be seamless across platforms. An omnichannel strategy is retailers' best bet for capturing the most sales possible.

The physical store is not obsolete

Online channels will drive holiday sales this season, but that doesn’t mean brick-and-mortar stores should be boarded up. Research from Deloitte suggests that while 51% of the average holiday budget will be spent online, 42% will be spent in store. Research from PwC shows that 88% of consumers plan to shop in store while 84% plan to shop online—meaning a large portion of customers will use both brick-and-mortar and e-commerce stores to purchase goods these holidays. Consumers clearly want the convenience of having every purchasing option open to them.

Different generations shop differently

Generations shop differently

Of course, holiday shoppers are not a single mass, but rather segments of consumers with different needs and wants. The same study by Deloitte found that the younger you are, the more likely you are to shop online. Over 60% of Generation Z’s holiday shopping budget is spent online, this drops to 58% for Millennials, 52% for Generation Xers, 48% for Baby Boomers, and all the way to 33% for the Silent Generation. The Silent Generation (those born between 1920 and 1940) are also the most likely to use alternative channels, like direct-order catalogs, to do their holiday shopping. What does this mean for retailers? You need to think about which audiences are most important for your bottomline, and how you can most effectively communicate to these segments.

The omnichannel is a consumer priority

In a consumer survey, up to 78% of participants report "webrooming" in the last year—researching a product online before buying it in store. An additional 72% report "showrooming"—researching a product in store before buying online. This helps to show people are constantly doing research and trying to find the best price before making a purchase. Implementing an omnichannel strategy is more important now than ever before if you want to capture the biggest part of the market.

To return to our original question, a lot of holiday shopping has shifted online. But the nature of online shopping has shifted as well, and physical stores still play a huge role in driving sales. The best approach for wireless retailers wanting to make the maximum impact this (and every) holiday season is to evolve into seamless omnichannel retailers. Your shoppers want to use multiple channels throughout their buyer journey—by realizing this and creating a seamless buyer experience across channels, you can make sure you're capturing as many sales as possible.

iQmetrix specializes in helping wireless retailers keep pace with consumer trends in the industry. If you want to be prepared for the holiday season, contact us today.

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Photo Credits: Shutterstock / Daniel_Dash, Shutterstock / Zivica Kerkez, Shutterstock / KucherAV

Topics: Omnichannel Retail

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