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Nearly all online shoppers will buy over the internet this Christmas: study

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Practically all of the UK’s online shoppers expect they will buy over the internet this Christmas, a new study has found.

The latest eCustomerServiceIndex from eDigitalResearch and the IMRG asked 2,000 consumers how they planned to shop this Christmas. It found that 96% of online consumers said they would turn to the internet for at least some of their purchases, while one in four (26%) said they would do more of their seasonal shopping online this year, compared to last.

Some 41% of those who owned smartphones said they would consider using them to make their purchases, a figure up by 20% on last year, while 73% of those mobile shoppers expected to make more Christmas purchases.

But it seems that people who own tablets are the most likely to use them for online shopping. Some 21% of UK online consumers now own tablets, found the research, and 71% of them will consider using them for seasonal shopping.

The bodies behind the study detect good reason to predict a strong showing for online retail this December – but they argue that retailers must adapt to developing technology.

“These results demonstrate the need for retailers to provide shoppers with the ability to shop when, where and how they want,” said Derek Eccleston, head of research at eDigitalResearch. “As online, mobile and tablet shopper numbers continue to rise it is important for retailers to integrate technology into their high street presence.”

The study also found that 51% of smartphone owners already accessed the internet while shopping on the high street. Of these, half (50%) are visiting retail website. A further 29% said they would use their mobile more while out shopping if free wi-fi was available. Retailers such as Marks & Spencer, Debenhams and John Lewis have already moved to give this facility, but others are concerned, said the report’s authors, that it could lead to shoppers buying from rival stores online instead.

Eccleston said: “Retailers will never be able to stop shoppers from using their smartphones whilst out shopping, and whilst there will always be the threat of a customer choosing a cheaper, online competitor, by integrating this new technology into the high street, retailers will be able to offer a more rounded customer experience, increase overall satisfaction and, quite possibly, keep shoppers in stores for longer”.

Andy Mulcahy, IMRG head of communications, said: “Mobiles have become an integral part of the engagement process between brands and consumers, and the roll-out of 4G is only going to increase the appeal and ease of accessing mobile internet on the move.

“Any specific physical retail location is, in essence, also a virtual showroom for every competitor that retailer has through a mobile device. The key to success is in generating a complete understanding of the potential customer, focusing all effort on providing the kind of experience that convinces a consumer to select your brand over the competitors’ offerings.”

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