TECHNOLOGY

Survey: Most shoppers will visit stores this holiday season

BY Deena M. Amato-McCoy

Unfazed by store closures, shoppers plan to get most of their holiday shopping done in-store this year.

Nearly three-quarters of consumers (71%) plan to do the majority of their holiday shopping in physical stores — the same percentage from a similar poll a year ago. Additionally, the vast majority (88%) plan to at least visit stores this holiday season.

This was according to a new survey from global business-advisory firm Alixpartners. The study is based on responses from more than 1,000 U.S. consumers.

Retailers face a host of complex and demanding trends this holiday season, including some related to recent store closures around the country. For instance, nearly a quarter (24%) of respondents said they’ve been personally affected by store closures — specifically, that a store they “visit frequently” has closed in the past 12 months. Of that number, 20% are those earning $100,000 a year or more, the kind of high-earners most retailers yearn for.

Only 6% of all respondents said that if a store they frequently visit closed or closes, they’ll no longer make their purchase. However, a third (36%) of impacted consumers said they would instead shop at a competitor. This suggests that while sales may not just evaporate, individual retailers may have a tough time hanging onto what they had before, the study revealed.

Among other increasing challenges retailers may face this holiday season, 80% of shoppers said they have conducted online research as part of their in-store shopping process, including from inside the store itself. That’s up from 62% in a similar AlixPartners survey in 2015. (The question wasn’t asked in last year’s survey.)

“Our survey suggests that companies won’t be facing anything like the so-called retail apocalypse this holiday season, but they certainly will be facing a difficult conundrum — how to deal with an unprecedented mix of increasingly complex channel, customer and competitive dynamics,” Joel Bines, co-head of the AlixPartners’ retail practice and a managing director, AlixPartners.

“The winners in this environment will likely be those who truly master &lsquoclicks-and-bricks’ strategies, without short-shrifting the &lsquobricks’ part,” he added. “Also important is localizing assortments, marketing and promotions to match today’s fast-changing markets, including at the regional level and below. And last but not least, making the necessary efforts and investment to understand today’s customer.”

On a positive note, the survey revealed that a whopping 84% of consumers expect to spend the same or more this holiday season, up 1% point vs. AlixPartners’ poll last year. In addition, 93% expect to start their holiday shopping at the same time as last year or earlier, and of those who expect to start shopping earlier, 42% expect to spend “somewhat” or “significantly” more than they did last year.

Other findings include:

&bull 92% of respondents plan to use online sources to research their purchases during the holiday-shopping season.

&bull Consumer electronics is the most online-researched retail category in the survey, with 38% of respondents saying they’ve conducted online research.

&bull Apparel and footwear have the highest online sales penetration in the poll, with 37% of respondents saying they’ve made an online purchase.

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TECHNOLOGY

Study: Online retailers at risk of losing $2.1 billion this holiday season

BY Deena M. Amato-McCoy

More unauthorized product ads are hijacking the consumerexperience — an issue that will cost retailers precious revenue this holiday season.

As unauthorized product ads are injected into consumer browsers — and appear on retailer sites — consumers are distracted from the retailer’s offerings. This disruption – known as online journey hijacking – cuts directly into retailers’ revenue, an issue that could cost companies $2.1 billion this holiday season.

This was according to “The Impact of Online Journey Hijacking on E-Commerce Q4 Sales in the U.S.,” a report from Namogoo.

According to the study, 15% to 25% of all e-commerce customer sessions are exposed to unauthorized ads while browsing retailer sites, and this could increase to 20% to 30% of all sessions during peak shopping seasons. In addition, 80% of the displayed ads during peak season are competitive product ads, sending a retailer’s traffic directly to its competitors.

Meanwhile, hackers are sharpening their malware just in time for the holiday season. Specifically, malware developers are pulling out all the stops to increase their reach and optimize their ads to generate more clicks and revenue, there report said.

As the holiday season heats up, online journey hijacking will likely remain steady at the 15% to 25% in September/early October, and increase exponentially during busy shopping periods such as Black Friday, Cyber Monday and Christmas.

“Amazon isn’t the only threat to retailers this holiday season. Online journey hijacking is a serious issue for online retailers, not just from a revenue standpoint but also in terms of brand experience and loyalty,” said Chemi Katz, co-founder and CEO of Namogoo. “The amount of lost revenue resulting from such tactics is astronomical and can be devastating, particularly at such a pivotal shopping time as the holiday rush.”

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TECHNOLOGY

Study: Even younger shoppers like stores

BY Marianne Wilson

More than three-quarters of consumers are shopping at bricks-and-mortar stores just as much as or more than they did a year ago.

That’s according to Consumer View, a new quarterly report from the National Retail Federation. NRF is working with Toluna Analytics to produce the report, which is designed to gauge consumer behavior and shopping trends related to stores, online channels, customer loyalty, technology and other issues.

According to the report, 21% of consumers surveyed are primarily online shoppers (defined as those who purchase more than half of their items online). Seventy-nine percent said they purchase half or less of their items online. Among Millennials and Generation Z, 34% are primarily online shoppers, but the majority still make most of their purchases in stores.

The survey found that consumers like technologies that transform the store experience. For consumers who had tried buy online, pick up in store, 68% said it improved their shopping experience. Similarly, 66% of those who had tried in-app store navigation and 65% of those who had used mobile payment while shopping said it had a positive impact.

Other innovations have made less of an impression, with 44% saying in-store digital displays had no impact on their shopping experience and 43% saying the same about the use of tablets of smartphones by store associates.

Of those surveyed, 86% buy their groceries mostly or entirely in-store, as do 65% for home improvement items/tools, 64% for personal care/beauty products and 57% for home decor/furnishings. Clothing is split with 49% shopping in stores, 13% shopping online and 38% shopping equally in stores and online. The findings for consumer electronics are largely the same.

Books, music and video games were the only category where consumers purchase the majority or all their items online (37%), with 27% shopping mostly or entirely in stores and 36% split.

Among shoppers overall, 69% said they go to a store because they need something right away and 65% wanted to see an item before purchasing. Among Millennials, 55% go to stores as a social activity, 50% to pick up an item bought online and 44% to talk to a sales associate. In both groups, 66% said they go to stores simply because they prefer to shop in stores

“This report shows that the bricks-and-mortar store is still the cornerstone of American retail and likely will be for many years to come, as consumers seek authentic interaction and experiences with retailers,” said NRF president and CEO Matthew Shay. “Despite the changes in our industry, there is an appeal to seeing and touching merchandise in person and being able to engage with fellow human beings that has yet to go away. Even younger shoppers see the value of the store.”

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