Ecommerce Holiday Joy: Consumers Plan To Shop Online This Season, Study Finds

It may seem premature, given the uncertainty surrounding Covid-19, but it’s time to start working on your holiday emails. American consumers are gearing up for the season, and the pandemic has converted many into devoted ecommerce buyers, according to "What to Expect for Holiday 2020," a global study by Criteo. 

Of the consumers polled in the U.S., 88% plan to continue shopping for gifts online and having them sent to recipients. Granted, 64% miss going to physical stores, and 65% say they will be comfortable going to malls by October, if they aren’t already. 

In its own tracking of data from 14,000 retailers, Criteo found that online retail sales jumped 30% in the Americas and 17% worldwide in the June 15-28 period, compared with the February 2-14 timeframe. 

Among consumers, 39% bought from some online stores for the first time during the COVID-19 peak in April. And 33% discovered small merchants they didn’t know about. 

These stores must have made a good impression, because 84% say they’re likely to stick with them.  

Another 37% of shoppers have found brands that sell directly to consumers, apparently skipping stores. 

Of course, there’s no telling what effect unemployment and lockdowns will have on overall sales.  

And whatever the impact, ecommerce brands better have their ducks in order when it comes to email. 

For one thing, they need strong transactional or triggered systems, able to handle everything from abandoned cart reminders to order confirmations. And they’d better have strong discount or promotional programs, for these are driving email response more than long messages about company values, other studies show. 

For its part, Criteo “syncs customer data from email lists and point of sale systems to online ads.” But the customer journey includes apps at every stage.

Of the consumers polled, 51% downloaded at least one app during the pandemic. In addition, 45% heard about an app from family, friends or co-workers. And 33% use one or more newly downloaded shopping apps several times per week. 

Meanwhile, 55% of consumers felt the crisis period was a good time to make lifestyle changes. 

Among the activities they’ve discovered or rediscovered:

  • Cooking at home—52% 
  • Spending more time at home—50% 
  • Exercising at home—36%
  • Working from home—26%
  • Gardening—25% 

The hardest-hit industry has been travel. And that is likely to continue during the holiday period. 

While 62% of consumers are looking forward to traveling again, 64% are wary of planes and trains.  

Specifically, 50% say they’ll feel  comfortable taking a train during the holiday season that begins in mid-October. And 47% will feel safe on a plane. But 68% would rather take weekend trips, presumably by car. 

Criteo surveyed 1,300 U.S. consumers.

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