Digital executives, this is your holiday shopping season! Deloitte’s 2016 holiday shopping survey results showed a significant uptick in the amount of shoppers who plan to research, buy, or “window shop” online. Here are three key takeaways for digital executives in the retail industry this shopping season:
According to this year’s holiday survey, consumers are more likely to shop online than they are to visit popular brick and mortar locations such as discount/value stores and traditional department stores.
Online shoppers are not just browsing, either. In fact, consumers polled in our survey plan to spend just as much online as they do in physical stores (47 percent). This is a significant turning point in consumer behavior–in previous years, shoppers have always planned to spend more in-store. Just two years ago, store spending was 12 percentage points ahead of online purchasing.
Online holiday shopping is likely to take some share from popular store formats both big and small. Fewer people plan to visit standalone “big box” retail stores. This number dropped from 63 percent to 59 percent this year. The number of consumers who plan to visit traditional malls fell slightly from 53 percent last year to 50 percent. The decline carries forward to all physical store formats included in the study.
While half of consumers will do their holiday shopping online this year, more than four in 10 (43 percent) holiday shoppers expect they will use retailers’ “buy online, pick up in store” feature. This year’s survey also showed an increase in the number of shoppers who plan to research online before making a purchase in-store (86 percent) and the number who will use smartphones while shopping (78 percent). Smartphones are most often used for informational purposes like getting store locations (61 percent), checking prices (57 percent), and browsing online (56 percent).
Two-thirds (66 percent) of respondents expect they’ll be “webrooming,” meaning they will look at items online before making a purchase in a store. Along that same line, half (50 percent) of shoppers will take part in “showrooming” by going to a store to look for an item, then searching online for the best price and making their purchase there instead of in-store.
While research still exceeds purchases on smartphones, mobile transactions are gaining ground. This holiday season, 43 percent of smartphone owners expect to make a mobile purchase, up from 35 percent in 2014.
Survey respondents plan to use PCs (desktops and laptops) for the overwhelming majority of online purchases; however, mobile commerce continues to gain traction. Shoppers anticipate mobile devices (smartphones and tablets) will account for more than 10 percent of holiday purchases.
While progressing a bit slower than many expected, mobile purchasing continues to make steady gains. Forty-three percent of smartphone owners plan to use their device to make a purchase this holiday season—up from 35 percent two years ago (Figure 19). Retailer apps lead across mobile payment channels. Twenty-five percent of respondents plan to make purchases via retailer apps, with mobile websites not far behind at 22 percent. Despite widespread availability of mobile wallets, few survey participants anticipate using the technology at the register.
With consumers planning to spend as much on-line as in stores, have we reached a critical inflection point in holiday shopping? The customer experience has evolved to become a true blend of digital and physical, and we believe all operating decisions must reflect this new reality.
Rod Sides is vice chairman, Deloitte LLP and leads the retail, wholesale and distribution practice in the United States and the retail consulting practice globally. A principal in Deloitte Consulting LLP, Sides has more than 27 years of experience assisting retailers with their strategies to improve operational efficiency and increase profitability.