Signal’s 2015 Holiday Shopping Survey: The Most Cross-Channel Time of the Year

Most shoppers are probably not thinking about the holidays yet. (Unless you count Prime Day.) But for retailers, this is go time. If you’re planning on making changes to your site and your strategy, the time is now, because there will be little room for error once November arrives – especially because consumers are doing their holiday shopping earlier every year.

Signal wanted to know how this year’s holiday season is shaping up, so we can help retailers prepare for all the clicks, tinsel, merriment, and stress to come. So our retail experts surveyed 500 consumers about their holiday shopping plans: Will they shop in stores or online? Phones or tablets? How annoyed are they about shopping on small screens? And will they be buying gifts for themselves, if they’ve been good?

Here’s what they told us:

  • Consumers are ready and willing to shop on their phones—and not just to browse products they’ll buy in-store, but to make purchases right from their devices. 67% of consumers said they plan to browse more frequently from smartphones or tablets than they did last holiday season—and 60% said they plan to buy more often from their phones or tablets.
  • Shoppers aren’t ready to give up physical stores yet: 82% of our respondents said they still planned to shop in stores this season. Why? Visiting brick-and-mortar stores during the holiday season is favorite tradition for many , when stores are dressed up for the holidays, kids can visit Santa, and the festive atmosphere gets shoppers into the holiday spirit.
  • The number-one place consumers will shop this holiday season? On a computer. 85% say they’ll shop on a laptop or desktop. And 80% of respondents will buy something for themselves.
  • Shoppers expect a positive, relevant experience on any channel and every channel. 54% of respondents said that retailers should provide a personalized experience everywhere they shop.
  • Consumers would buy more frequently on their smartphones if mobile shopping had better security (58%), better view of the products (56%), a way to more easily enter their information (49%), and the experience felt more like buying in person (47%).

These results show that this holiday season, harried consumers aren’t migrating away from stores ; they’re ready to purchase across all channels. Shoppers are interacting with every conceivable channel during their journey, and they’re saying yes on all of them—but they are looking for tailored experiences that allow them to seamlessly traverse the offline and digital worlds, while offering them the best of both.

So how can savvy retailers capitalize on these trends, and make sure they have a strategy to delight their customers when the holidays roll around?

  1. Understand the customer experience as a holistic journey. Marketers often think in a channel-specific way, but shoppers don’t. Make sure you’re collecting all of your customers’ signals, and connect them so you don’t miss a beat. Leverage your customer engagement data so you can send personalized offers and customize the online browsing experience, too. Shoppers will be thrilled that you know just what they were looking for.
  1. Bridge the online-offline gap. Since you know that customers will be going between your website, store, app, and probably your Snapchat feed, make sure those experiences complement one another. Make it easy and secure for customers to view items, explore product details, and buy via mobile devices. Offer customers in-store the opportunity to have items shipped to their homes. Make sure that your site offers reviews, videos, and information so that shopping online is as foolproof going to your store.
  1. Build strong customer profiles while your customers are providing lots of data. Rich, deep customer profiles are the key to moving from live intent signals to effective marketing messages and amazing customer experiences. Your site, store, and app will be thronged during the holiday season: Make it a season to remember by harnessing that data for greater insights. Then your marketing will be merry and bright all the way through 2016. 

This is a great time to revamp and re-energize your holiday retail strategy. And remember: Your customers will find you on every channel this holiday season. Be ready for them!

For more results from our 2015 Holiday Shopping Survey, read the press release.

To learn how to harness engagement data to create and act on meaningful customer engagements during the holidays and beyond, download the Retailer’s Guide to Understanding the 2015 Holiday Shopper.



Originally published July 29, 2015

Laurel Wamsley

Laurel Wamsley was the Marketing and Communications Manager at Signal, and the editor of Signal's blogs. She worked previously at the University of Chicago, Rackspace, and NPR.

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