Amazon is Primary Holiday Gift Destination for 42% of Consumers, But Retailers Can Compete and Win with Personalized, Data-Driven Experiences

The Amazon threat is real for retailers this holiday season, with 42% of US consumers reporting that the big online retailer will be their primary holiday gift destination, according to a new survey conducted by Signal, a global leader in real-time, people-based marketing. However, retailers can capture their own piece of the holiday commerce pie with data-driven relevance, highly personalized marketing and simple, seamless experiences.

While total 2016 retail holiday season sales are predicted to increase just 1.8% over last year, ecommerce sales are anticipated to increase 13.3%, meaning that retailers must up the digital ante when planning for this critical time of year. The survey of 1,500 U.S. consumers sheds light on their holiday shopping preferences, suggesting how retailers can deliver superior digital experiences this season. Key findings include:

  • Consumers browse and buy across all channels. The primary way holiday shoppers browse for gifts is on a desktop/laptop (36%), but the most frequent way consumers purchase gifts is in-stores (33%). About 1 in 5 consumers primarily browse via mobile devices (smartphones and tablets), and 8% use smartphones and 7% use tablets as their primary way to make holiday purchases.
  • Consumers are split on their love for Amazon. Of those surveyed, 42% say that the ecommerce giant is the main retailer where they purchase gifts, but 40% say it’s not. This finding suggests that there is plenty of opportunity for retailers to capture holiday dollars. Consumers like Amazon because it is easy (50%), because they are Prime members (36%), and because they like the product reviews and recommendations (29%). Retailers can look to these preferences to understand ways to improve their own efforts.
  • Digital advertising can make an impact. Most people – 43% – say that digital advertising on a website or in a mobile app somewhat influences their holiday gift buying. Consumers appear to appreciate the information that can be found in digital ads. One-third of respondents said that ads help them get discounts or deals, and 27% said that ads provide them with new gift ideas. However, because 48% of people surveyed also said that digital ads are annoying, retailers should always prioritize experience above all else when planning online advertising initiatives.

“The retail environment is a complicated battleground, with mega-competitors like Amazon and demanding consumers who want to shop when they want, how they want. But retailers don’t have to be Amazon to succeed, as 40% of consumers say they primarily shop elsewhere for holiday gifts. Instead, they can use the wealth of knowledge available in first-party data to understand their customers better than anyone else, gaining the edge they need to design personalized experiences that will delight holiday shoppers,” said Mike Sands, CEO, Signal.

To provide the best holiday shopping experiences, Signal recommends retailers consider the following steps in their holiday strategies:

  • Consumers don’t think in channels, and neither should retailers. The survey findings show that people consistently shop across desktop, mobile, and in stores as it suits their needs. Consumers don’t want to make a choice between the convenience of buying from home and the assurance of handling the product in a store: they want both. By offering options like buy online/pick up in store, free shipping and easy returns, retailers can effectively serve consumers wherever they are shopping.
  • Retailers can provide relevance by understanding context. What is the consumer trying to achieve? First-party data will help retailers understand what actions are appropriate to provide relevant assistance to a shopper in real-time and in support of their goals. In fact, 46% of consumers surveyed said that relevant deals and discounts will motivate them to buy this holiday season.
  • Amazon is not unbeatable, as consumers are split on whether or not it’s their primary destination for holiday shopping. Retailers can raise the stakes by leveraging their extensive customer data from all channels and touchpoints to best Amazon with more intelligent and relevant suggestions. Retailers with physical stores can also consider ways to use those locations as distributed, flexible warehouses for pick up and returns – both of which offer cross-sell and upsell opportunities.

In addition to these findings, Signal recently released a whitepaper with Digital Clarity Group, “The Amazon Threat and The Facebook Trap: Retailers Can Win with Relevance in the Next Holiday Season.” The report shares strategies for how retailers can overcome challenges to delight holiday shoppers and turn them into buyers. To download the report, visit here.

About Signal

Signal is a global leader in real-time people-based marketing. With one platform, Signal’s integrated technology combines data collection, persistent identification, data onboarding and media activation for real-time cross-channel engagement. By leveraging Signal’s platform, brands and publishers gain immediate knowledge of buyers, access to high quality audiences and a simplified activation process to engage consumers within minutes of recognition.

Today, Signal’s technology runs on more than 45,000 digital properties in 158 countries. The platform facilitates billions of data requests monthly, supporting top brands around the world that generate more than $1.5 trillion in commerce, including Allstate, Audi, Crate & Barrel, JetBlue Airways, Starcom MediaVest Group, Starwood Hotels and Resorts, and many more.

Signal has been recognized with numerous awards and honors, including being named the third-fastest growing software company in the country, and the 51st-fastest growing company overall, on the 2015 Inc. 5000 list. Visit to learn more and follow Signal on LinkedIn and Twitter.

Originally published June 28, 2016

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