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Shopping experience improves online at Christmas and deteriorates in-store, while the importance of mobile continues to rise

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The online shopping experience improves at Christmas, while the in-store experience deteriorates, according to a significant minority of shoppers quizzed in a new study.

The latest eCustomerService Index (eCSI) from eDigitalResearch and IMRG found that 25% of the 2,000 online shoppers they surveyed for the report feel the online shopping experience is ‘significantly better’ or ‘slightly better’ at Christmas time, as a result of special deals and a wider product range. Some 7% feel it gets worse.

Some 42% feel the in-store experience goes downhill, thanks to busy stores, queues, and the limited number of staff available to help them.

Small wonder, then, that 96% of the 2,000 online shoppers quizzed for the study plan to shop online this Christmas, with 48% likely to do at least half of their Christmas shopping on the internet.

Among them were the 64% of smartphone shoppers who plan to spend more on their mobile this Christmas than last, and the 44% who will consider doing some of their seasonal shopping online.

Andy Mulcahy, editor at IMRG, said: “It is little wonder that such a high percentage of people (64%) say they are planning to do more shopping through their phones this Christmas; we’ve seen sales through mobile devices (smartphones and tablets) grow rapidly over the past few years, accounting for 23% of online sales in Q2 of 2013 with site visits at 34%.

“To put in perspective the rate at which confidence in the channel has grown, three years ago at the start of 2010, sales through mobile devices stood at just 0.4% of online sales.”

The findings concur with IBM‘s Third Annual UK Online Retail Christmas Readiness Report, which found that mobile traffic grew to 21.5% of site traffic on the first Mega Monday of the year, November 26. That was 79% up on the same time in the previous year. It tested the trend again in March, finding that by then 23.5% of visits were over mobiles.

But while mobile continued to grow, another key trend it detected, social commerce, stayed level, with visitors from Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn and other sites accounting for 1.9% of site sales and 0.6% of site traffic as of March 2013.

IBM’s study also found falling average order values (AOV) and number of items per order. AOV fell to £99.59 in December 2012, from a high of £137.90 in May 2010. It was also down on the three major Christmas shopping days of the last Monday in November the first Monday of December and on Boxing Day.

“While these declines are fuelled in part by economic uncertainty and spending hesitation on the part of consumers, they also suggest that UK retailers need to redouble efforts to promote sales and cross-selling with personalised cross-channel marketing and recommendations,” said the IBM report.

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