Shopping Trend Insights for the 2014 Holiday Season

Allison Howen
by Allison Howen 13 Oct, 2014

It's not even November, yet the holiday shopping trends are already beginning to arrive.

According to new data from commerce technology platform MarketLive's annual online shopper survey for the 2014 holiday retail season, 36 percent of shoppers intend to purchase gifts via their mobile devices, which is up 29 percent from last year. Moreover, 49 percent of shoppers will make purchases based on a social referral. This data suggest that retailers should be paying close attention to the experiences they provide to customers in these two channels.

"The survey results highlight key strategies we are suggesting our merchants implement for the holiday season. Providing an engaging and optimized mobile experience is paramount given that online purchases completed on a mobile device continue to sharply trend upward, as well as pre-purchase activities on mobile such as researching prices and looking up store inventory to see if that special gift is in stock," said Ken Burke, founder and CEO of MarketLive. "In addition, we are advising our merchants to pay attention to their social channels this season. Revenue from the channel may still be growing slowly, but the survey underlines interesting changes in the role of social influence on gift purchases this holiday season. We may have finally turned the corner on social commerce." 

The survey was based on a random sample of 1,000 U.S. consumers who had shopped online at least four times within the past year, own a smartphone, and typically spend $250 or more online annually. Noteworthy findings reveal that 70 percent of consumers are likely to research on their smartphones for the gifts they find in retail stores, while 56 percent are likely to reserve products from their smartphones for pick-up at retail stores.

When it comes to social, the study found that 30 percent of shoppers have made a purchase via social in the last year, which is an increase of 12 percent when compared to 2013. Additionally, 44 percent of consumers intend to discover new products via social networks. It is also important to note, however, that consumers plan to contribute to social too. For instance, 52 percent of consumers say that they feel it is important to review products that they have purchased, while 48 percent say that it is important to share product recommendations on social networks and 42 percent will pin items onto

Lastly, the study shed light on gifting trends for the 2014 holiday season. According to the data, 60 percent of consumers intend to purchase 11 or more gifts and 55 percent will spend $500 or more on gifts - both online and offline. Furthermore, 43 percent of consumers will pay full price in order to get the "perfect gift." Preventing consumers from purchasing gifts online, however, is high shipping costs (42 percent), the ability to enjoy the spirit of the holidays while shopping in stores (28 percent) and the ease of researching and comparing products in stores (16 percent). Moreover, high shipping or hidden shippig costs are the top reasons why consumers abandon items in their carts.

"This year's survey results underline the need for retailers to prepare to be able to meet consumers' online shopping expectations across all channels. It is critical that consumer experiences online, in-store, via mobile and social are all exemplary and aligned to optimize their business," said Lauren Freedman, president of the e-tailing group, a market research firm that conducts the annual shopper survey for MarketLive.