Maybe it’s just the social aspect of the holiday season, compared with the utilitarian shopping we do all year round, but the third annual holiday survey from business intelligence firm SAS has found that 85% of Canadians prefer to do their holiday shopping in-store, compared to 59% of their British counterparts and 70% of Americans.
The survey was conducted by SAS Market Research and Survey Sampling International and polled the opinions of 4,061 adult consumers between October 4 and October 11, 2016, from Canada, the United States and the United Kingdom about their holiday shopping habits, with a 1.5% margin of error.
“Despite global e-commerce trending upward, Canadians still prefer the in-store experience during the holidays,” said Augustin Nguyen SAS Retail Solutions Specialist for SAS Canada. “During the busiest shopping season, retailers should remember that consumers are only as loyal as you give them reason to be. To compete, retailers need to leverage the power of technology and high performance analytics to understand customers personally, delivering real-time deals and recommendations both online and in-store.”
Simply put, the main reason on-line shopping works for people is that it saves them time and anxiety during a stressful time of year, with 35% of shoppers citing saving time as the main reason they shop on-line, while 35% also cited free shipping and 48% cited convenience.
The survey found that 66% of Canadians plan to give gift cards this year, making it the most popular gift choice, followed by clothing and accessories at 48%, and books, music or movies at 39%.
The good news about gift cards for retailers is that they never go out of stock, which is important given that 51% of Canadians surveyed indicated that if a brand or item they wanted to purchase was not available in-store, they would go to another store to find it.
This figure goes up to 59% of Canadian shoppers who will buy from a different website if the item they’re trying to purchase is out of stock on-line.
From a logistics standpoint, it has now become essential for retailers to use analytics platforms at the very least to improve demand forecasting so that they can ensure that in-demand items remain on store shelves to prevent customers from taking their loyalty elsewhere.
As cheesy as personalized communications like emails seem to marketers, the survey finds that they actually work, with 66% of survey respondents saying they prefer personalized emails from companies they do business with, and 48% saying they like promotional emails and offers in their inbox from companies related to their lifestyle and/or interests.
When it comes to on-line research, 29% of survey respondents indicated that they used product recommendations made by online retailers to inform their gift decisions, and that 54% of shoppers actually go through with purchasing an item suggested by an online retailer at least some of the time, although 44% of shoppers felt that retailers’ product suggestions based on previous searches or purchases were not very accurate.
The survey found that 90% of shoppers read product reviews and 97% compare prices online.
So while on-line retail plays a role in consumer behaviour, retailers need to know that when it comes to the holidays, consumers are still very much shopping in the real world.
Perhaps most surprising, the survey found that 90% of shoppers today do not use mobile payments, with 62% saying their credit or debit card is just as convenient, and 31% citing security concerns, which throws a wrench into the idea that consumers are uncritically flocking to the new world of mobile payments.