Holiday shopping is stressful. So much so, that shoppers are avoiding the season by getting their shopping done early. We released our “Reality of Holiday Retail: Keeping Up With the Consumer” report today, which found nearly one in three U.S. holiday shoppers (32%) would begin their shopping in October to avoid Holiday Crush during the season.
The study (conducted online with third party research firm YouGov) looks at how consumers are approaching holiday shopping this year and what retailers can do to best serve their customers. However, in order for retailers to meet the needs of their customers, they must understand their pain points and how to fix them.
FIXING THE BIGGEST PAIN POINTS
Nearly half (48%) of shoppers have had problems with retailers during the holiday season. Those problems start with shipping and inventory management. One in three (33%) of these shoppers reported paying extra for shipping on a gift that did not arrive on time, which is likely why more than one in four (28%) consumers are still start their holiday shopping in-store. Thirty-five percent of shoppers noted their gifts arrived late, despite having ordered by the last “ship by” date, while 22 percent missed the last “ship by” date and couldn’t get their gift in time.
As far as inventory management, nearly half of shoppers (45%) reported they were told a gift was in stock in store, but upon visiting the location, found out it wasn’t, something that retailers can easily remedy by focusing on updating their systems. One other issue 44 percent shoppers experienced was getting a notification about their purchase being out of stock after the order was processed.
But customers have suggestions for retailers to improve their experience during the holiday season. An overwhelming majority of consumers (76%) feel there are steps retailers could take to improve the holiday season shopping experience, of whom more than half (54%) want to be able to shop online/mobile and immediately pick up in store - not surprising given how many people have been burned by ship dates. More than six in ten of these shoppers (63%) want free shipping return labels on all purchases, something that can easily be delivered via mobile apps.
TIMING IS EVERYHING
Retailers need to ensure their mobile strategies hold strong to support a more holistic approach to building relationships with customers and supporting all holiday shopping habits, from the 32 percent of consumers who would avoid stores during the holiday season by shopping as early as October, to the Black Friday bargainers to the Christmas Eve crammers, to the 12 percent who plan to wait until after the holiday season ends to make purchases.
Our Holiday Shopping Calendar outlines the important days for consumers this holiday season, so retailers know when exactly they need to be paying attention to their customers:
A final note to retailers – the holiday season has the potential to create great shopping experiences with your most loyal customers if you take the time to listen to what they want and when they want it.