Online consumers reluctant to share data
While consumers had a satisfactory online experience in the 2010 Christmas holiday shopping season, retailers failed to exceed customer expectations in many areas, with web site searching and navigation being cited as the top areas for improvement, according to the Holiday Online Shopping Experience Survey from digital marketing firm Baynote.
The study, which surveyed 500 US online holiday shoppers during December 2010, examined customer satisfaction with digital experiences in a number of key areas, including retailers' behavioural retargeting and privacy practices, mobile and social features, offers and promotions, and product merchandising approaches.
Overall, 55% of consumers rated their online shopping experience as "good", equivalent to a 'B' grade. Only 23% said they had an excellent experience and 17.6% said their experience was merely average. Compared to 2009, some 51% said their experience was the same, while 46% said it had improved.
According to Carlos Carvajal, vice president of marketing for Baynote, "It is interesting that, when it came to mobile and social commerce, consumer behaviour still lags behind retailers' investments. In 2011 we expect to see many more consumers using these channels as part of their holiday shopping experience."
Additional findings from the key categories explored by the study include:
- Retargeting and Privacy 84% of consumers are either hesitant or unwilling to share their personal information with retailers to personalise their online experience. The remaining 16% said they would definitely share their personal information to have a more personalised online shopping experience.
58% of holiday shoppers recalled experiencing retargeting, which refers to the practice of targeting consumers with advertisements after they clicked on a product or promotion on a website but did not make a purchase. Meanwhile, 54% of shoppers said they felt that the 2010 season's surge of retargeting was an invasion of their privacy, with 48% saying that retargeting turns them off retailers.
- Offers and Promotions 71% said that e-commerce web site promotions, such as ad banners, had influenced their buying decisions. E-mail was a close second, with 70% of respondents saying such promotions either heavily or somewhat influenced their purchase decisions.
Nearly 43% said that the relevance of retailers' promotions delivered to them was average, fair or poor.
And, in the battle of the social sites, 31% of respondents were influenced by promotions through Facebook while only 17% were swayed by those on Twitter. Some 20% said that mobile-based promotions had influenced their holiday shopping.
- Mobile and Social Media 13% of respondents used their mobile phones to make holiday purchases, while 18% used them for comparison shopping. Of the people who purchased a gift with their mobile phone, convenience was the biggest reason for doing so (68%). The second biggest factor was that they were offered a time-sensitive promotion (46%). Consumers who did not make mobile purchases indicated it was mostly because their computers were more convenient, at 51%, while 26% said it was due to security concerns.
Only 15% of respondents said they had shared product links with their friends on social media sites such as Facebook and Twitter. Although clearly not in the mainstream yet, 16% still purchased an additional product based on their Facebook friends "liking" or purchasing a product.
- Product Merchandising Retailers did not do a great job in 2010 of helping their customers quickly locate the items they sought, and this is bound to have had a negative impact on sales and profits. More than half (57%) of respondents said they would like retail web sites to improve their navigation, and 54% said the same for site search facilities. Of product recommendations, site search, site navigation and product reviews/ratings, excellent site navigation is the most valued by consumers, with 58% saying it is very important to them, followed by site search at 53%.
Among consumers who purchased something different and/or in addition to that which they originally intended to buy, 42% said they were drawn to a complementary product displayed near the product they were looking at.
55% of consumers said they had abandoned web sites part-way through an online shopping session, with 50% citing misleading search results, and 48% saying they couldn't find the products they were initially looking for once they arrived on the site.
The survey's full results have been made available for free download from Baynote's web site - click here (free registration required).