The majority of British consumers say they are willing to pay more for a positive customer experience, particularly when doing their holiday season shopping, according to a retail customer survey by SDL.
According to SDL's study of of consumers' Christmas shopping preferences and behaviours, 53% of UK shoppers (and 60% of consumers globally) are willing to pay a premium for a better customer experience.
With Christmas spending in the UK predicted to exceed 40 billion in 2013 (reaching that level for the first time ever) it is undoubtedly important for organisations to understand these trends and deliver a consistently compelling and engaging customer experience, the company warned.
The study surveyed over 4,000 consumers globally, including 2,000 from the UK and 1,000 each from the USA and Australia. Among the study's key findings:
- Customer experience is more important than price
More than half of UK shoppers (53%) are willing to pay more for a product if the brand delivers a positive customer experience, suggesting that businesses which compromise on customer experience in favour of lower prices are adopting the wrong strategy. For consumers in the US, this figure increases to nearly three-quarters (73%).
- Workplace shopping
Nearly one in three (29%) respondents globally admit to shopping for Christmas gifts online while they should be working. This figure is slightly higher in the US (31%) than in the UK (28%) and Australia (27%); overall it is clear that online Christmas shopping could be significantly impacting business productivity.
- Showrooming remains relevant
More than half of UK respondents say they are researching products they want to buy directly in-store (55%). This remains a more common research option than the use of online tools such as retailer websites (49%) and other ecommerce sites (30%).
- Product research diversifies, but social lags behind
Despite the growing popularity of social channels, less than 5% of respondents learn about products on Facebook and Google+ and less than 2% on Pinterest and Twitter.
- Mobile is right for research, but purchases stagnate
While mobile commerce technology continues to evolve, the majority of consumers in the UK (68%), US (64%), and Australia (67%) say they will not use a tablet or smartphone more this year to purchase gifts. Mobile is a valuable research tool, however, with 45% of all respondents using mobile devices to conduct research before purchasing.
- Bricks-and-mortar gain ground
Despite the growth in online sales volumes, the study found that consumer preferences toward traditional bricks and mortar stores increased in 2013. In the UK, the proportion of those who prefer shopping in traditional stores increased from 43% to 45%.
- Key dates over-hyped
15% of UK shoppers wait until after Bonfire Night (5th November) to begin their Christmas shopping; and 2% do not start until Christmas Eve (24th December). However, key shopping dates such as Black Friday and Cyber Monday matter less to consumers than they do for retailers, with the vast majority of shoppers globally saying that they do not plan their spending around specific dates (63% in the UK and over 80% in the US).
"The holiday shopping season is a critical time for brands to provide a positive customer experience," concluded Mark Lancaster, CEO of SDL. "This study shows that consumers' preferences and behaviours change considerably from year to year, and from country to country. Organisations that are able to consistently deliver compelling and engaging experiences, across media and geographies, will be the most successful."