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2014 Holiday Shopping Trends: The Early Returns Are In

The holiday shopping season is already upon us. Every year, retailers begin jockeying for position weeks before the “official” holiday season between Thanksgiving and December 31st, and this year is no different. With 2014 holiday sales growth forecasted anywhere between 4% and 11% (source: NRF, Shop.org), retailers have been aggressively tapping into consumers’ stronger optimism and extra spending power, and consumers have been eager to scoop up early bargains.

multichannel-holiday-shopping-trends

We, too, have gotten a head start on the holiday season, analyzing holiday consumer shopping experiences and behaviors earlier than ever before. In late October we started surveying Americans shopping online, via mobile apps, and in retail chain stores as part of our research for the ForeSee Experience Index (FXI): 2014 U.S. Retail Report, a multichannel, customer experience study that will be published in mid-December. The study will report customer satisfaction scores for the top 100 retail websites, top 30 retail chain stores and top 30 retail mobile experiences. Our goal is to give retailers a much better understanding of today’s multichannel, multi-device consumers.

To date, we’ve collected more than 15,000 survey responses, and we’ll continue to collect data well into December. And while the results are still highly preliminary, we wanted to share a few interesting trends we see materializing across the different shopping channels we’re measuring.

Overall:

  • Black Friday no longer rules the roost. While Black Friday continues to kick off the “official” holiday shopping season, just as many consumers will be shopping on Cyber Monday (46%) as will be on Black Friday (46%).
  • Mobile is surpassing desktop. Mobile shoppers are more likely to be shopping on Cyber Monday (53%) than more traditional e-commerce shoppers (45%).
  • The omnichannel consumer is here to stay. Across all channels, there’s been a huge increase in showrooming (i.e., using a mobile phone to research or purchase while in the store). This year, 66% of store purchasers said they visited the store’s website on their phone while in the store, compared to just 55% last year.
  • Amazon leadership is eroding. Amazon continues to be the preeminent retailer (at least when it comes to customer experience), but others are quickly closing the gap.

Retail Chain Stores:

  • The early front-runners in store satisfaction are Barnes & Noble, Costco, Kohl’s and Apple. No major surprises here, as they were all highly rated in 2013.
  • Store customers have become omnichannel customers in a big way. Thirty-eight percent of customers who made an in-store purchase have also purchased on their phones (compared to 31% in 2013), and 26% have used the retailer’s app (compared to 21% in 2013).

E-Commerce Websites (non-mobile):

  • Amazon continues to lead the pack in customer satisfaction (84, down 4 points from its 2013 satisfaction score of 88), but the gap is narrowing. In 2013, Amazon surpassed the next runner-up by 4 points. This year, only one point separates Amazon, QVC, Netflix, Avon and Vistaprint.
  • E-commerce shoppers are becoming more savvy; they are significantly more likely to research on competitors’ sites this year (41%) than last year (35%).

Mobile Shopping:

  • Like in the e-commerce rankings, Amazon remains the customer satisfaction leader—but the gap has narrowed. Last year, Amazon’s score was 5 points ahead of its nearest competitor. This year, the top five mobile sites/apps (Amazon, Fanatics, Apple and Barnes & Noble) are separated by just 2 points.

This is just a sample of our preliminary findings, and at this point these are simply directional because  we haven’t even reached the midpoint of our shopper research study. But, it will be interesting to see if these findings hold up through the holiday shopping season.

I’m looking forward to sharing our full set of omnichannel holiday shopping insights with you in the upcoming ForeSee Experience Index (FXI): 2014 U.S. Retail Report in mid-December. Until then, happy holiday shopping!



ForeSee | Jim Yang

About the Author

As Senior Vice President of Products, Marketing, & Services for Answers Cloud Services (ACS), Jim Yang oversees product management, strategy, marketing and client services for Answers’ suite of SaaS-based customer experience solutions. He has over 15 years of software product leadership and general management experience with leading enterprise and consumer brands. Most recently, Jim served as the Vice President of Products & Community for Answers.com, where he oversaw products, community development, content, usability design and business development. Previously, Jim led product management and usability for Shopping.com (acquired by eBay) and Linden Lab (creator of Second Life). He also held senior product leadership roles at Yahoo! and Netscape. Jim earned his bachelor’s and master’s degrees with honors in Electrical Engineering and Computer Sciences from the University of California at Berkeley, and his MBA from Stanford University.

Read more posts by Jim Yang

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