Seventy-seven percent of holiday shoppers will be making at least some of their gift purchases online according to a new study.
While online sales continue to increase year after year, it seems the biggest trend is for consumers to do a mix of both online and in-store purchases. The NPD Group reported that six out of ten shoppers plan to do such cross-channel purchasing, according to website Retail Dive.
The good news for retailers? Shoppers are more likely to spend more money if they shop online rather than just in stores, so it benefits them to have a good online presence. According to NPD Group, online shoppers anticipate spending an average of $748 this year, almost 50% more than the $492 of those planning to go only to physical stores.
Traditional brick-and-mortar stores have taken note and are reaching out to online consumers more than ever. Most have stepped up their virtual stores and social media engagement, so customers have more flexibility in how they make purchase decisions. Some big retailers like Walmart have acquired successful online clothing retailers in an effort to compete. Most retailers understand that customers prefer more options and ease when it comes to shopping.
Interestingly, there has also been a trend for online-only stores to open physical locations in order to build better relationships with their customers. Clothing giant Modcloth opened three stores this past year where customers can try on clothes and then place their orders online – which means fewer returns and hassles. Fabletics has also opened physical stores to sell its athleisurewear.
"The traditional division between online and in-store retailing continues to shift and blur," Marshal Cohen, NPD Group's chief industry advisor, said in a statement. "Traditional store retailers are upping their online games these days, while they are also finding ways to drive traffic to stores with improved efficiency, more entertaining shopping experiences and better value. Online retailers are also finding ways to blur the retail divide in their own ways, offering lower prices and shipping options that get products to consumers faster than ever."
Amazon will continue to dominate online sales this holiday season according to the study. More than half of shoppers anticipate turning to Amazon for product research, compared to 37% who look for customer reviews or do their own online research. Social media is also a big factor in promoting products, as shoppers gravitate to Facebook or Instagram to see what’s new, rather than catalogs, TV or magazines like they have in the past.
NPD Group surveyed 3,605 consumers about their holiday shopping preferences.