Smartphones may be among retailers' strongest allies this holiday season, according to Deloitte's annual holiday survey of consumer spending intentions and trends.
Smartphone-toting holiday shoppers are expected to shell out 72 percent more than those who do not plan to use smartphones, spending a total $1,428 on the holidays across categories including gifts, entertaining at home, socializing away from home, non-gift clothing, home/holiday furnishings and other holiday spending.
“We anticipate that retailers will increasingly interact with mobile shoppers this holiday season,” said Alison Paul, vice chairman, Deloitte LLP, and retail & distribution sector leader. “Deloitte's research into smartphones' influence on in-store sales indicates that the conversion rate for shoppers who use a retailer's dedicated mobile application is 21 percent higher than those who do not. This holiday season, branded applications, Wi-Fi connectivity and personalized, location-based promotions from retailers can enable shoppers to make an immediate buying decision in the store.”
This year, Deloitte anticipates that in-store sales influenced by consumers' smartphone use will account for $36 billion, or 5.1 percent of total holiday retail store sales.
Online, social media part of the holiday shopping tradition
Nearly half (45 percent) of consumers surveyed plan to shop online for holiday gifts. Many shoppers will head to the Web to strike a deal, but also to become more informed about the purchases they are making.
More than half of the survey respondents (55 percent) indicate they often read online reviews before buying holiday merchandise online, and nearly 3 in 10 (28 percent) say they will rely on reviews more this year than last year.
Nearly half (48 percent) of shoppers surveyed will make social media part of their holiday shopping process. Among this group, more than half will tap into social networks to look for discounts (54 percent) and research gift ideas (53 percent), while 47 percent plan to read reviews.
When shopping online, 47 percent of consumers surveyed indicate that low prices are most important when shopping a particular retailer. Online shoppers surveyed also expect some free perks: More than 7 in 10 (71 percent) consumers surveyed say they are more likely to shop online from retailers who offer free shipping, and 56 percent say the same about retailers who offer free returns.
The personal touch
Consumers indicate that service with a smile and even a scanner counts when shopping in the store. Nearly 6 in 10 (56 percent) shoppers surveyed say they are more likely to purchase from a store retailer that has knowledgeable sales associates.
Consumers may be most inclined to rely on sales associates when shopping for technology. Four out of ten (43 percent) consumers surveyed indicate that during the holidays, they are more likely to seek help from store associates in electronics or office supply stores, followed by traditional department stores (26 percent) and discount stores (22 percent).
“The store continues to be central to holiday shopping, but its role and that of the store associate is evolving as the physical and virtual shopping experiences merge,” continued Paul. “Associates should be more informed and empowered than in the past; they should have the ability to make price-matching decisions on the spot, and be well-versed on promotions and products that customers are viewing via the retailer's mobile and online channels.”
Consumers are showing an interest in store technologies that make shopping easier. More than one-quarter (27 percent) of the shoppers surveyed indicate they are more likely to shop retailers that offer barcode scanners in the aisles to confirm prices and features. Approximately 1 in 5 seeks retailers that offer to ship to their homes (22 percent) and provide self-service or mobile checkout (19 percent).
Consumers are expected to rely on a blend of traditional and digital information sources as they track down information about the holidays this year, according to Deloitte's survey.
More than two-thirds (67 percent) of consumers surveyed expect to find out about the products they purchase this holiday season through combined online, social media and mobile formats, compared to 60 percent who will rely on traditional media such as radio, television and newspapers. Nearly the same amount (57 percent) expects to learn about products this holiday season through friends and family.
The survey was commissioned by Deloitte and conducted online by an independent research company between September 14 and 24, 2012. The survey polled a sample of 5,089 consumers and has a margin of error for the entire sample of plus or minus one percentage point.