Loqate announced the results of a study revealing top consumer shopping concerns, as well as consumers' high expectations for a flexible omnichannel holiday shopping experience complete with non-traditional buying options such as curbside pickup and pre-booked appointments.
Nearly half of Americans are planning a combination of in-store and online shopping this holiday season, challenging retailers to deliver an exceptional experience regardless of where, when and how consumers choose to shop. As concern over pandemic restrictions fluctuates and consumer habits continue to evolve, a personalized omnichannel strategy supported by accurate customer data will be the key to winning over 2021 holiday shoppers.
"In the age of digitization and ongoing global supply chain and shipping disruptions, this holiday season is shaping up to be the year that will make or break many retailers," said Matthew Furneaux, global commercial director at Loqate. "At the same time, retailers have an enormous opportunity to build customer trust and loyalty by minimizing risks and delivering on rising expectations for shopping flexibility and delivery reliability."
Among the shifting consumer preferences and behaviors revealed in Loqate's 2021 holiday survey of 1,000 American consumers:
Consumers are getting an early start. In attempts to avoid the shipping delays and sold-out items that are expected this year, 88% of U.S. consumers plan to start their holiday shopping well before December. In anticipation of high traffic, retailers should leverage customer data to send tailored, relevant promotions that reward loyal customers for shopping early.
Consumer expectations are high for retailers to get holiday delivery right. Late deliveries are a concern for 87% of consumers and 41% of shoppers are unlikely to purchase again from a retailer that delivered a late package. Retailers can counter concerns by enhancing their checkout with tools, such as address auto-complete, and exploring alternative fulfillment options to minimize last-mile issues and increase consumer confidence.
This season's holiday shoppers are clear about which channels they prefer to shop and communicate on with retailers and brands. Thirty-four percent of consumers plan to shop on brand websites, 18% on mobile sites and 20% on mobile apps. When it comes to communication, email is the preferred method for receiving order updates for 56% of consumers, with SMS as the second most preferred.
With the influx of holiday packages comes fraud concerns. Although many delivery companies utilize lockboxes and signature requirements to prevent theft, 80% of consumers are concerned about packages being stolen. With the ability to verify millions of addresses in real time, address verification tools can help retailers pinpoint fraud risks by accurately matching customer address data to the right customer profiles and ensuring shipments are sent to a genuine location.
Shoppers expect flexibility across channels but plan to do less in-store shopping than last year. Baby boomers are not ready to entirely give up their recently gained digital skills. Loving the convenience and ease that comes with eCommerce, 34% will be shopping strictly online this year, whereas only 17% intend to walk into a brick-and-mortar store.
Projections are looking good. Despite last year's economic challenges, retail sales during 2020's November-December holiday season grew 8.3%, beating out 2019's $789.4 billion earnings. Fifty-four percent of shoppers expect to spend the same amount of money as last year and 24% expect to spend more.
Free shipping and promotions drive consumer purchases. With shoppers once again ready to spend big and 17% of consumers considering sales, promotions, and discounts as one of the most significant factors for shopping, promotional activity will play a big role this holiday season.