Digital key to Xmas shopping

25 November 2014

LONDON: Digital will play a significant role in Christmas shopping this year, with two thirds of shoppers planning to spend 50% or more of their gifts budget online and ecommerce predicted to account for half of all sales growth according to two new reports.

The first finding came from a survey of 500 UK consumers by Accenture, the consulting firm, which also revealed that a similar proportion (67%) would do most of their Christmas shopping at online-only retailers.

Mobile is increasingly important, with one third of consumers surveyed (34%) believing that shopping with a mobile device will lead to better discounts and will help them compare prices while in a physical store.

And price is the major factor for shoppers: 93% said discounts were the primary driver of purchasing decisions related to their holiday shopping and 32% planned to set aside cash to take advantage of special offers.

Further, Britons appear to be becoming more comfortable with digital retail tactics, with 82% saying they were already using, or would definitely use, or are willing to try, mobile services that offer them real-time promotions and offers as they shopped in store.

"Mobility is having a dramatic impact on shopping in the UK," said Fiona O'Hara, managing director/Retail, Accenture UK & Ireland. "It is critical for retailers to make it seamless for consumers to trade on mobile applications by incorporating social media and mobile technologies into their stores and multichannel environments."

A separate report from rival consulting firm Deloitte predicted that ecommerce would take 13% of retail sales, up from 12% last year, and half of the seasonal sales growth. Overall it anticipates that digital technology will affect some £15bn in sales, whether directly through purchases or indirectly via price comparison and product information.

Ian Geddes, Deloitte's head of retail, told Marketing Week that omnichannel was the way ahead. "Those retailers that have invested in developing apps may now find that if these are only optimised for use as a separate channel, rather than an integrated part of the shopping experience, they will not be fit for purpose," he said.

"Just as physical retailers have benefited from the growth of click and collect, " he added, "technology investment in-store will increase the number of shop visitors who buy and how much they spend, as well as help join the online and offline worlds.

Data sourced from Accenture, Marketing Week; additional content by Warc staff