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Friday, December 8, 2017

Holiday shoppers favor multichannel retailers

Early reports suggest merchants with both an online and brick-and-mortar presence attract more customers during the holiday shopping season. Analysts have seen a pre-shopping trend among consumers who research products online, then touch and buy in stores. Analysis published Dec. 4, 2017, by retail consultancy BRP, supports these observations. Gene Bornac, Senior Vice President at BRP, said technology has given customers more control of the shopping experience. "Now it is up to retailers to play catch up with their organization, processes and technology to deliver the right products for the right price in the right place," he said.

Additional shopping data from BRP's 2017 Merchandise Planning Benchmark Survey, found retailers updating their business models to accommodate tech-savvy shoppers. Following are some examples:

  • Integrated planning: 64 percent of retail respondents use integrated, cross-channel business planning mechanisms.

  • Advanced technology: 33 percent of retailers use omnichannel demand planning systems.

  • Real-time analytics: 42 percent of retailers use real-time customer feedback systems to react quickly to customer demands.

Increased mobile usage

Not surprisingly, most consumer pre-shopping research is performed on mobile platforms, analysts noted. Waltham, Mass.-based BlueSnap, a payment technology company, recorded a 125 percent increase in mobile wallet usage in 2017 among BlueSnap merchants and their customers. Company representatives said Apple Pay, Visa Checkout and PayPal have made it easier for businesses to turn on the payment methods their customers desire.

"We are thrilled that our customers saw strong sales growth as we kickoff the holiday shopping season," stated Ralph Dangelmaier, Chief Executive Officer at BlueSnap. "Our platform is helping them reach more shoppers than ever with all the functionality built in so they can spend their time growing their business and not managing multiple gateways and integrations."

BlueSnap researchers found mobile payments escalated during peak shopping days, surging 125 percent on Thanksgiving Day, 124 percent on Black Friday and 79 percent on Cyber Monday. Adobe's 2017 online shopping data for that day recorded a 22.2 percent increase in smartphone traffic, year over year; smartphone checkout revenue of $1.59 billion, a 39.2 percent increase, year over year; and a 12 percent increase in mobile transactions, compared with 2016. Additional holiday spending data from the National Retail Federation found 63 percent of smartphone owners researched products on their phones, and 29 percent used mobile checkout.

Mickey Mericle, Vice President, Marketing and Customer Insights at Adobe, believes smartphone commerce has reached a tipping point. "Shopping and buying on smartphones is becoming the new norm and can be attributed to continued optimizations in the retail experience on mobile devices and platforms," she said. "Consumers are also becoming more savvy and efficient online shoppers. People increasingly know where to find the best deals and what they want to purchase, which results in less price matching behavior typically done on desktops. Millennials were likely another reason for the dramatic growth in mobile, with 75 percent expecting to shop via their smartphone."

Healthy economic outlook

Early reports from the NRF found millennials to be the biggest mobile users, with the highest average tickets. NRF President and CEO Matthew Shay said positive consumer spend reflects a healthy economy. "All the fundamentals were in place for consumers to take advantage of incredible deals and promotions retailers had to offer," he said. "From good weather across the country to low unemployment and strong consumer confidence, the climate was right, literally and figuratively, for consumers to tackle their holiday shopping lists online and in stores."

An NRF survey found more than 64 million consumers shopped online and in stores in 2017, compared with 58 million who shopped only online, and over 51 million who shopped only in stores. Multichannel shoppers spent an average of $82 more than online-only shoppers, and $49 more than brick-and-mortar shoppers. Black Friday dominated overall holiday spend, attracting 77 million shoppers, followed by Small Business Saturday with 55 million consumers, NRF analysts found. They recorded the most online transactions on Cyber Monday, which exceeded $6 billion in spending in the 24-hour period.

By all accounts, the 2017 holiday shopping season is poised to be a record-breaking event that sets a higher bar for electronic transactions. Adobe expects online sales to climb throughout the holidays. Adobe noted that its retail report is based on metadata from 1 trillion visits to over 4,500 retail sites, as well as findings from Adobe Analytics, which measures 80 percent of online transactions from 100 leading ecommerce retailers. end of article

Editor's Note:

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