Commentary

Making A List And Checking It Twice

According to Author Cara Salpini for RetailDIVE, the National Retail Federation’s 2017 Retail Holiday Planning Playbook survey indicates that notes and wish lists might be transitioning to the digital stage. With online shopping playing an increasingly important role in just about every holiday, more consumers are looking to build their wish lists online rather than on paper.

According to the NRF:

  • 63% of shoppers would like to use online wish lists to help organize their gift purchases, although only a quarter of respondents currently use online wish lists
  • 47% of respondents said they will look in physical stores to find the perfect gift
  • 44% will go straight to family and friends for gift ideas or hints
  • 75% of omnishoppers make purchases online after shopping for something in-store

Whether consumers are shopping in stores or online, being able to create an online wish list is highly desirable for consumers, says the report. The ability to create a wish list could cater to these types of shoppers, not only if they’re looking for family and friends, but also if they want to record their own wish list to send out to family members, says the report.

Transparency is key for retailers heading into the holiday shopping season, says the report. Not only do customers want transparent and generous return policies, but many of them will be taking into consideration customer reviews (whether good or bad) before they buy a product.The NRF found that 75% of the holiday shoppers surveyed checked return policies before making a purchase, while 22% backed out of a purchase because of a bad return policy.

While that number may not seem high, it could have serious impacts for retailers that don’t stack up when it comes to returns. Almost one in every four shoppers are willing to dump a product if the return policy isn’t as generous or as transparent as they’re looking for.

A recent study by Corra, says the report, found that while 75% of consumers rarely or never return items bought in-store, that number drops to 61% when the item was purchased online. Having a transparent and generous return policy is a smart move for retailers looking to drive traffic over the holidays; otherwise, they could face losing key consumers who aren’t willing to take a risk on their products. Shoppers listed the following reasons for deciding against a purchase:

  • Lack of free return shipping (57%)
  • Only store credit offered instead of a full refund (55%)
  • An inability to return items in-store (43%)
  • Too small of a return window (42%)
  • Too difficult to return in-store (39%)

96% of shoppers surveyed by the NRF said they read reviews on a retailer’s site before making purchases and 25% of those said reviews provided the most help when making holiday purchase decisions last year. 63% also write product reviews, the highest percentages falling to Gen Z (81%), and millennials (75%), and 73% are more likely to do so when they’re pleased with their experience.

While many shoppers like scoping out the perfect gift for themselves, 54% of the survey’s respondents used a retailer’s recommendations when making their lists last year, and that same percentage started researching for their holiday gifts in October.The big takeaway from these stats, says the report, is that holiday shoppers want detailed product information and personalized customer service. The more expensive a product is, the more research customers want to conduct before committing to it.

  • 66% of shoppers do research for items that are less than $50
  • 85% research for products between $50-$100
  • 89% conduct research for items $100-$150, $150-$200 and anything over $200.

The study states that "triggering that emotional, on-the-spot purchase can still be an important tool for retailers to drive holiday spend."  Though sending out limited time promotional offers, might seem old-school for the digital age, 72% of coupons used in 2016 affected purchasing behavior, usually by encouraging shoppers to buy a product they otherwise would not have.

According to that study, conducted by Inmar, 65% of shoppers said they would try a new product if they had a coupon for it and 58% would abandon their regular brand for a different one if the other brand offered a coupon. Additionally, younger consumers are even more likely to make impulse purchases than older ones; the NRF study found that 66% of millennials and 71% of Gen Z said they made more impulsive purchases this year than the year before

Marshal Cohen, chief industry analyst at the NPD Group, says "… this holiday season] is really about stealing share… It’s not about getting more customer dollars… customers don’t have more dollars… If there’s going to be any growth, it’s going to come at the expense of somebody else…"

For additional information from Retail DIVE, please visit “A retailer's guide to the holiday season” here.

 

 

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