November 18, 2013, 4:15 PM

What e-retailers need to know about consumers’ holiday shopping plans

Five shocking (and useful) stats from Deloitte’s 2013 holiday retail customer survey.

Customer retail success depends on several very important factors, not least of which is understanding customer psychology, preferences and behavior.  In-depth studies and surveys by established, intelligent organizations with a track record for collecting and maintaining good, organized, cohesive data that allows for ongoing trend analysis and adjustments are invaluable in understanding the best retail strategies.

 One organization that has done an excellent job collecting annual holiday customer data is Deloitte, one of the world’s leading auditing/consulting firms. Every year, Deloitte conducts a holiday survey of more than 5,000 customers regarding their holiday shopping plans. And every year, retailers gain access to incredible insights into customer behavior and how to leverage that behavior to maximize holiday season sales.

Here are the five most surprising- and useful – stats from this year’s survey, and what they mean for retailers.

#1: Shoppers intend to spend an average of 9% more this holiday season than they did in 2012.
Talk about an increase in spending! Holiday shoppers plan on spending an average of $421 this year, up from $386 last holiday season. That number greatly outpaces world inflation, a strong sign of the level of current consumer confidence

What it means: Sell and seek margins. Customers who have spent under that amount of money may be open to spending extra money this year. Scientifically assess your offer to ensure it succeeds.  Upsell and cross-sell at every opportunity. If customers have extra potential dollars, determine if, when, and how they might be open to purchasing with smart targeting and intelligent discount strategies.

#2: 73% of total holiday purchases will be influenced by coupons.
Coupons are prevalent this holiday season in the mind of the consumer. The concept of receiving money off of list price at a time when there are mass shopping needs is enticing to any shopper looking to keep everyone happy without breaking the bank.

What it means: Use coupons to your advantage. Be creative; consider loyalty programs as a way to pull in loyal customers who might be willing to pull the trigger on one extra purchase if only they had a little price break to work with. Optimize every customer, even if it means taking off just a little bit for the holidays.

#3: 43% of consumers will give gift cards.

Gift cards are hardly a new concept or a new favorite for holiday consumers. They have been the most popular gift for six years running and will continue that streak this season. Gift cards are an easy option for retailers looking to increase purchases and cash flow in any given season.

What it means: Gift cards are the champion of all gifts. If you don’t have a loyalty program, it’s time to get one. Also adjust your marketing: alter your holiday marketing to include the card, or alter the name of your gift cards to match your holiday season. Make sure your message is cohesive to drive potential customers toward the gift card. And put gift cards in every channel, so no matter what your customer prefers, you are there for them. It’s almost like you are celebrating together!

#4: 38% of consumers will spend the majority of their holiday dollars online.
Online purchasing and online marketing are hardly new. People have made significant e-commerce purchases since the mid 90s. However, this year, it appears that shoppers are at an all-time e-commerce peak, opening the door to amazing sales for any online retailer.

What it means: If you’re a retailer that is NOT online, it may be too late to capitalize on it for this season. If you are online, it’s time to turn up the online marketing effort and compete for shoppers in that venue more strongly than ever. Leverage social media offers, optimize email outreach and drive customers online to learn more about your offers, especially when it comes to coupons and gift cards.

#5: Smartphone owners will spend more than $100 more than non-smartphone owners on holiday shopping.
Smartphone users will spend $480 average on holiday shopping. Non-smartphone users will spend $378 each. This widening distance between prices creates a chicken-and-egg question regarding whether tech interest/ownership leads to purchase or if there are other potential causes for this purchase gap. Regardless, the chasm is unmistakably present.

What it means: Smartphone users are a key target for any retailer. The beautiful thing about a smartphone is that it allows for multiple methods of contact from the seller. Ensure your marketing is mobile compatible; on paper, these customers are worth nearly 27% more than their non-smartphone customers.


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