Salesforce: Short holiday season won’t stop digital shopping

Dan Berthiaume
Senior Editor, Technology
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Digital holiday sales will skyrocket in 2019.

That’s according to the third Connected Shoppers Report from Salesforce of over 10,000 global consumers which forecast a 13% year-over-year increase in digital commerce sales this holiday season, despite six fewer shopping days than 2018. Respondents said the leading influencers of holiday purchases will include sales and promo codes (60%), what’s available in physical stores (58%), free or expedited shipping (52%), search engine (39%), and emails from brands or retailers (37%). Social media showed a small impact, with 8% of respondents citing social media ads and 6% mentioning social media posts and stories.

In the U.S., nearly four in 10 shoppers (39%) plan to shop online while celebrating Thanksgiving. Globally, nearly half (47%) of respondents vow not to make full-price holiday purchases, opting for sale items only.

Examining online shopping trends beyond the holiday season, the study found 47% of digital purchases occur on online marketplaces like Amazon, eBay, and Alibaba. Another quarter (26%) of online purchases occur on retailer websites and apps, with 18% taking place across brand websites and apps and 9% across emerging digital purchase points (such as social media platforms).

Eighty-six percent of survey respondents report shopping across a combination of retailers, brands, and online marketplaces, citing different value propositions for each. Retailers, for instance, get the best marks on return and exchange policies, brands on product authenticity or quality, and online retailers on price.

The study also demonstrates stores remain vital to retail, with 81% of respondents discovering and evaluating new products in store. However, stores are evolving into online fulfillment hubs. Two-thirds (67%) of respondents have bought something else while returning an item in-store, 59% have purchased a product online for in-store pickup, and 52% have arranged shipping for a product that was unavailable in-store. 

In other findings, the study reveals that millennial and Gen Z shoppers are generally more likely to conduct digital commerce using emerging platforms such as voice and video. Gen Z consumers are the most likely to embrace shopping apps and social media when browsing and making purchases, while millennials are more drawn to chatbots and instant messaging than other generations. Both millennials and Gen Zers share enthusiasm for mobile wallets.