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No Free Shipping, Long Delivery Windows and Poor Tracking Among the Top ‘Holiday Hold-Ups’ Consumers Say Will Keep Them From Purchasing With a Brand or Retailer

Study Reveals That Many 2020 Holiday Shoppers Are Feeling Stressed and Have High Expectations for a Seamless Holiday Shopping Experience

Scalefast, a Los Angeles-based digital commerce solution that is changing the way modern brands do direct-to-consumer (DTC) eCommerce, released its “2020 Holiday Hold-ups Report” today. Holiday shoppers say the most common holiday hold-ups stopping an online purchase with a specific brand/retailer this year are discontinued/no free shipping (42%), deals or discounts not being good enough (29%), long delivery windows (29%), difficulty seeing whether the brand is credible (22%), and if a brand/retailer has no/poor tracking around shipping timelines/delays (21%).

The study, conducted online with the third-party research firm YouGov, uncovered not only consumer sentiment around their holiday hold-ups during the purchasing experience, but also revealed high expectations for brands/retailers this season and how to mitigate the overall stress they’re feeling.

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2020 Holiday Shopper Snapshot 

A quarter (25%) of holiday shoppers said “stressed” best describes their feelings about the 2020 holiday shopping season. If brands and retailers want to make it through the 2020 holiday shopping rush unscathed, they need to adapt to a consumer who has been hit hard by the pandemic – emotionally and financially. Other findings include:

  • Compared to 2019, 30 percent of holiday shoppers plan to spend less this year, 19 percent plan to purchase less gifts this year
  • 25 percent of holiday shoppers are stressed or anticipate being stressed about not being able to afford the gifts they want to buy
  • 22 percent of holiday shoppers plan to change up their holiday shopping plans from last year by avoiding major buying days (Black Friday, Christmas Eve, etc.)
  • 20 percent of holiday shoppers are stressed or anticipate being stressed about store cleanliness and COVID-19 response

“Understandably, many consumers are heading into retail’s most critical shopping season feeling overwhelmed. Supply chain issues over the past few months have disrupted the entire purchasing experience and likely pushed consumers to start shopping earlier than last year. Along with the current unreliability of USPS and other carriers and safety issues stemming from the pandemic, brands and retailers have very little time to ensure there is a robust plan in place for tackling the holiday-hold ups that are piling up to stop a consumer from making a purchase,” says Olivier Schott, founder and CMO of Scalefast. “Our research shows the prescription for easing the holiday shopper’s anxiety hinges on excellent communication supported by robust eCommerce platforms that update product availability, shipping and delivery in real time. Sound messaging around data security, fraud prevention and order status provide a feeling of safety.”

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The Prescription for Holiday Hold-Ups

The impetus is on the brand and retailer to deliver a seamless experience that anticipates anything that might hold-up a holiday shopper from making a purchase. Areas that require the most attention from brands and retailers are:

Shipping & Logistics 

Three of the most common reasons holiday shoppers would stop buying from a brand or retailer this year are about delivery:

  • No or discontinued free shipping – 42 percent
  • Long delivery windows – 29 percent
  • If the brand/retailer has no/poor tracking around shipping timelines/delays – 21 percent
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Brands need to offer clear and varied delivery windows, reliable tracking and upgraded or premium shipping – 45 percent of these consumers said their 2020 holiday shopping would be less stressful with a guaranteed delivery date feature and 22 percent said same-day delivery.

Availability & Affordability

Brand loyalty may not be enough to sustain some retailers if they can’t compete on affordability and availability this year.

  • Over one-third of holiday shoppers (35%) said in general they care less about a brand and more about affordability
  • Nearly one-third (31%) of holiday shoppers prefer to do their shopping on Amazon because of Prime member benefits and over a quarter (26%) plan to do most of their holiday shopping on Amazon

Retailers are suffering from inconsistent stock levels stemming from the pandemic and promotional days like Black Friday and Cyber Monday can’t be counted upon to pack the same punch in 2020, so many are looking to longer promotional windows and offering the best deal. Deep discounts and shifting inventory where needed requires a robust eCommerce platform and ERP system that can offer accurate insight. More technology players are looking to challenge Amazon for dominance of the direct-to-consumer channel for brands.

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Security & Safety

In 2020, safety and security are paramount for consumers – both in regard to their physical experience and online experience.

Every year, a major retailer inevitably sees its customer data being hacked and holiday shoppers are quite aware of this pending risk.

  • More than a quarter (26%) said stronger payment security tech/features would make their 2020 holiday shopping less stressful and 20 percent said simply more payment options would cut down on their stress
  • 14 percent of holiday shoppers are stressed or anticipate being stressed because of credit card/payment hacks

Trends have long indicated that eCommerce is a growing proportion of shopping in general and for the holidays. The pandemic may only serve to accelerate this further due to safety concerns among would-be in-person shoppers.

  • Compared to 2019, 22 percent of Americans plan to shop less in-store and 21 percent specifically are less comfortable shopping in-store because of health and safety
  • 21 percent of holiday shoppers anticipate being stressed or have already been stressed by trying to navigate crowded stores and 20 percent about store cleanliness and COVID-19 response

E-commerce platforms who focus on security and privacy compliance as part of their core offering ensure there is no threat to the growing number of shoppers heading to digital channels.

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