December 29, 2014 | The XM Blog

2014 Holiday Shopping Trends:The Results Are In


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Today’s release of The ForeSee Experience Index (FXI): 2014 U.S. Retail Edition (available for download here) marks the 10th year we’ve been using ForeSee’s proven customer experience measurement methodology to report on the current state of the retail customer experience during the holiday shopping season.

The ForeSee Experience Index: 2014 U.S. Retail Edition

Download the full report »

This year’s report takes a broader view of the marketplace, measuring the customer experience with the largest retailers in the United States as recognized by Internet Retailer’s Top 500 web and mobile commerce sites and the NRF Stores Top 100 Retailers. It’s been another exhilarating year of learning, and we’re excited about the emerging industry trends we’re seeing. We’ll preview some of them in this post, but we encourage you to download the full, free report for more insights on the state of retail during the 2014 holiday shopping season and the rising expectations of today’s multichannel, multi-device customers.

The Multichannel Shopper Rules the Day

This holiday season saw a significant jump in multichannel shopping and showrooming (i.e., using a mobile phone to research or purchase while in a store). We found that 68% of in-store purchasers said they visited the store’s website on their phone while in the store, compared to just 55% last year. In addition, our research shows that multichannel shoppers are generally more satisfied with a retailer than single-channel shoppers, which ultimately makes multichannel shoppers more valuable customers. Specifically, shoppers who purchased in store but accessed multiple channels to research those purchases are more likely to engage in future behaviors that are critical to retailers’ success:

With this ongoing shift to multichannel shopping, retailers who can innovatively enable the increasingly complex shopping experience will win over tomorrow’s demanding multichannel consumers. You’ll find more detailed learnings on the multichannel shopper in The ForeSee Experience Index (FXI): 2014 U.S. Retail Edition.

The Changing Face of E-commerce

Since we began measuring holiday retail customer experiences in 2005, Amazon has been the solid leader. In fact, over the last three years Amazon has been an average of 3+ points ahead of its nearest web and mobile competitors—but that’s changed this year. While Amazon still scores highly, it is now tied with QVC in the e-commerce website category with a customer satisfaction score of 83. Though Amazon still achieves what our methodology considers a superior score, they should be alarmed by this decline because along with their decreased satisfaction score came a decline in important customer behaviors. For example, Amazon shoppers this year reported being less likely to recommend Amazon to others, less likely to purchase again from Amazon, and less likely to remain committed to Amazon as a customer.

Amazon isn’t the only online retailer missing the mark this year. In the e-commerce category, there was a slight decline in customer satisfaction across the board, as customer experience scores dropped from 79 in 2013 to 77 in 2014. Our findings indicate this decrease may be due to the fact that today’s shoppers have higher expectations and are becoming harder to please. They’re also constantly on the lookout for the best deal and have become much more diligent in their research. Compared to last year, online shoppers this year were:

  • 17% more likely to visit a particular e-commerce site’s competitors’ websites;
  • 52% more likely to use a comparison shopping engine;
  • 49% more likely to use other online resources to research;
  • 62% more likely to ask people who knew about a particular product, and
  • 23% more likely to visit a particular e-commerce site’s retail chain store and 82% more likely to visit competitors’ retail chain stores.

Download The ForeSee Experience Index (FXI): 2014 U.S. Retail Edition for more findings and a complete list of satisfaction scores for the top 100 e-commerce websites.

Shoppers Cozy Up to Mobile

2014 saw shoppers becoming much more comfortable using their smartphones to conduct retail research and make transactions. This year, 74% of mobile shoppers report using their smartphones to research products, compared to 55% last year. Even more notable is how much more comfortable they are in transacting with their smartphones: an amazing 44% of mobile shoppers made purchases through their smartphones in 2014, compared to just 25% last year. This tells us mobile has truly evolved from simply playing a shopping research role to becoming an indispensable enabler of the purchasing process.

Overall, the mobile shopping experience has remained the same as last year, coming in at an aggregate score of 79. Similar to its e-commerce score, Amazon’s mobile customer experience score has dropped significantly this year, falling from 87 to 83. This is still good enough to lead the mobile category, but Amazon is closely followed by Fanatics and L.L.Bean, each with a score of 82.

For a complete list of satisfaction scores for the top 30 mobile retail sites and apps and more insights on mobile shopping during the 2014 holiday season (including consumer adaptation to mobile payments and showrooming), download The ForeSee Experience Index (FXI): 2014 U.S. Retail Edition.

Shoppers Want More In-Store

Our findings indicate the shopper experience in retail chain stores hasn’t changed much in the last year. Overall, this channel saw a one-point drop in satisfaction this year (78) from last year (79). The leaders in retail chain store satisfaction are Barnes & Noble, Apple, Saks Fifth Avenue, Advance Auto Parts and Ann Taylor, all companies that consistently score high in customer satisfaction.

Our measurement methodology shows that the most important investment priority for retail chain stores is to improve their merchandise (appeal, variety and availability of product), as 72% of the retailers measured had merchandise as the most powerful satisfaction driver for their consumers. We also found that retail store customers have become multichannel customers in a big way. Thirty-seven percent of customers who made an in-store purchase have also purchased on their phones (compared to 31% in 2013), and 23% have used the retailer’s app (compared to 21% in 2013). Further, this year store purchasers are far more likely to begin their research online (50%) than last year (35%), including visiting that store’s website and competitors’ websites.

Download The ForeSee Experience Index (FXI): 2014 U.S. Retail Edition for more on shopper satisfaction with the retail chain store customer experience this holiday season, including a complete list of satisfaction scores for the top 30 U.S. retail chain stores.

Get More Trends, Complete Scores and Deeper Analysis in the Full Report

Overall, it’s been a remarkable 2014 holiday shopping season. We’re witnessing very important industry shifts as they relate to Amazon’s fall as the preeminent online retailer and as multichannel shoppers begin to fully realize the potential of being able to engage with their favorite retailers anytime, anywhere, on any device they choose.

We have analyzed in detail the above industry dynamics plus many more and are pleased to share them with you in the complete ForeSee Experience Index (FXI): 2014 U.S. Retail Edition. Download the full report here.

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About the Author

As a pioneer in customer experience analytics, Verint delivers superior technology and proven methodology to connect the customer experience to the bottom line. The result is better business for companies and a better experience for consumers.

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