Digital Consumers 'At Least Two Years' Ahead Of Retailers

Retailers are having a difficult time keeping up with the technology adoption rate by consumers. That's one of the findings from research on the holiday shopping season released Wednesday. Retailers are probably two years behind digital consumers when it comes to adopting technology, Ken Burke, founder and CEO of MarketLive, told Search Marketing Daily.

"Improvements in online ordering and security were made by retailers to encourage that behavior, but there's no question now that consumers are asking for much more than retailers can give like coupons with local discounts through mobile devices," Burke says -- suggesting that local discounts have brought consumers into the stores. "Previously, retailers would hide their WiFi networks, so consumers couldn't connect while in the store and compare prices or make a purchase from another local store."

The MarketLive Holiday Research Study was conducted by the e-tailing group and comprised a survey of 1,027 U.S. consumers who shopped online at least four times within the past year.

Retailers also don't promote their deals well in search advertisements or search marketing, says Burke. "They can do it through hyperlocal advertising, but many do not have the knowledge or skills," he says. "It's all about the relevancy of the item at the time the consumer needs it."

Burke says retailers do a much better job of promoting items in the moment on social sites. "Discounts on social media seem easier for marketers to understand compared with search," he says. "Buying a search ad to promote a discount in local stores, rather than running a national ad, is a stretch for most retailers. It's easier to just tweet it on Twitter."

In the study, retailers report that between 55% and 65% of Web site traffic comes from mobile devices. Some 78% of shoppers are likely to visit a store as a result of a text promotion or other mobile alert, according to the study. While most of the sales still occur in stores, 62% of shoppers saying they will make a purchase as a result of a notification or offer sent to their mobile device while in a store.

More than 40% of shoppers are likely to take advantage of personalized advertisements received on their smartphone, as a result of 55% who have become comfortable sharing their preferences with retailers in exchange for convenience and personalized product recommendations.

Consumers will purchase slightly more gifts online this year, compared with last, 13% vs. 9%, respectively. Half say they will purchase about the same.

The majority of shoppers will spend at least one-quarter of their holiday budget with Amazon, up from 23% in 2014.

When asked what have retailers and brands done during the past year to shift business to them or away from Amazon, consumers note better prices, special offers and promotions, and fast delivery times as the top three reasons.

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