Google Predicts a "Nonline" Holiday Shopping Season

As October is ending and November is quickly approaching, it is safe to say that retailers have one thing on their minds - the holidays.

However, merchants should be aware that the 2012 holiday season is going to be different than years past, at least according to Google. This is because the search engine giant is predicting that this year will be the first "Nonline" holiday season, which, according to Google's blog, means that this year's online and offline shopping experiences are going to be more seamless than ever before.

This is partly due to the rising popularity of mobile devices, which are increasingly being leveraged as shopping tools for consumers on the go. In fact, according to recent research from Google and Ipsos OTX, 4 in 5 mobile phone and tablet owners will use their devices to aid in holiday shopping. For example, 56 percent of tablet users will use their device to compare prices, while 44 percent of smartphone users will use their device to discover a nearby store based on location. This means that retailer's with a mobile optimized website or an app are already a step ahead of their competition.

This multi-channel approach to shopping further proves that the lines between offline and online shopping experiences are blurring. This is especially true considering that the research also shows that 51 percent of shoppers will look up products online and then visit a store to make a purchase, while 32 percent will research online, visit a store to view the product and then return online to make the purchase. Conversely, 17 percent of consumers will first visit a store to view a product and then make the purchase online. This is why it is vital for retailers to maintain a consistent brand experience across all channels.

Another key take away from the study found that merchants should be prepared for early shoppers. This is because 54 percent of consumers are expected to start their shopping before Black Friday and 77 percent will start by the end of Black Friday weekend. The best way that merchants can capture the attention of early shoppers is by promoting their holiday deals before the shopping season officially kicks off on Black Friday.

All of this being said, the real take away from this study is that consumers are shopping anywhere and everywhere this holiday season, which is why merchant's should focus on providing their customers with a consistent experience across devices and platforms. By doing this, merchants have the ability to collect revenue and connect with their customers through more channels than ever before.