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With the holiday season on the horizon, retailers are gearing up for the rush of gift shopping that accompanies the last few months of the year. A September 2012 survey of US online buyers, conducted by market consultancy the e-tailing group and ecommerce service provider MarketLive, found that ecommerce will continue to siphon business away from traditional brick-and-mortar retailers, with mobile playing a growing role in that evolution.
Mobile has emerged as a channel that provides shoppers with a new level of convenience in both researching and making purchases, and the trend shows no sign of abating in the near term. The survey found that the number of online purchasers who planned to buy a gift on a mobile device this holiday season almost doubled to 21%, up from 11% in 2011.
Cost comparisons are one of the most favored uses of smartphones by shoppers. The largest percentage of respondents, about four in 10, said they would use smartphones to search for sales and other specials before entering a store. Almost the same percentage said they would use smartphones to check prices on Amazon and make sure they were getting a good deal.
When it comes to researching prices, Amazon has established itself as the standard against which all other retailers are measured. Shoppers preferred using the online retail juggernaut to find price information over all other online retailers, comparison shopping engines and the mobile sites of a retailer where they intended to make a purchase.
Consumers are still flocking to traditional online channels, however, with the share of overall holiday purchases continuing to tilt towards ecommerce. Those intending to make a holiday purchase on the internet climbed to 33% in 2012, up from 25% in 2011, while the percentage of people planning to buy in-store also climbed by two percentage points, to 19%. Also, the number of people planning to make a purchase this year on a smart device was significant, at 16%. (This question was not asked in the 2011 survey.)
The ability to price shop emerged as the top reason shoppers went online, with the availability of hard-to-find products named as the second-highest draw. But consumers also saw online shopping as a way to save time and avoid holiday crowds at brick-and-mortar locations, highlighting online shopping’s ability to ease some of the stresses associated with holiday gift-buying. Of less importance to online shoppers was the ability to look at product reviews or recommendations from peers, as well as looking at pre-formulated “wish lists” drawn up by family and friends.
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