Consumers Want E-commerce Holiday Shopping to Feel More Like an In-Store Buying Experience

Infographic – Fixing the E-commerce Holiday Shopping Experience

Consumers weigh in on what they want in an e-commerce holiday shopping experience and why 85 percent still prefer in-person to online shopping.

Consumers Want E-commerce Holiday Shopping to Feel More Like an In-Store Buying Experience

A majority of consumers surveyed (61 percent) in a SheerID study said they planned to do anywhere from 50 to 100 percent of their holiday shopping online this year, and nearly as many (57 percent) said their total holiday shopping budget was more than $500. (Scroll down to view the full SheerID infographic.)

When asked how much they would spend per person on gifts for family members, the most popular answer was $100-200 at 35 percent, followed closely by 31 percent who put the number at $50-100 per person. Only 16 percent said they would spend less than $50 a person, and only 17 percent said they would spend more than $200 a person on gifts for family members.

There’s no question that online shoppers appreciate the convenience of doing their holiday shopping from home (or anywhere else they happen to be). But just because they’re shopping online it doesn’t mean they’re willing to forgo the amenities they appreciate about the in-person shopping experience.

The Biggest Frustration in the E-commerce Holiday Shopping Experience

In fact, the biggest experience-killer for 7 out of 10 online shoppers is not being able to see products in person. A distant second on the list of e-commerce holiday shopping frustrations, at 16 percent, is having issues redeeming a discount or (11 percent) when the online shopping experience is confusing in some way.

Online shopper frustrations often lead to abandoned carts, but they aren’t the only reasons an e-commerce holiday shopping experience might not result in a sale. Consumers say they abandon carts before buying due to:

  • 56% – expensive shipping
  • 41% – frustrating check-out process
  • 20% – problems redeeming a discount
  • 18% – sticker shock

Online Shoppers’ Most-Desired Amenities

Deals and discounts – of course! Six out of 10 online shoppers say it’s important or very important they buy discounted products and 34 percent look for exclusive offers (e.g., loyalty program, military offer, teacher or student discount, etc.)

  • 35% say they need a 30 percent discount to feel like they got a good deal
  • 26% say they need a 40 percent or higher discount to feel like they got a good deal

Deep discounts can shear away profit margins quickly; however, there is a bit of good news for e-commerce merchants here.  Four out of 10 consumers say that their discount of choice is free shipping, followed by:

  • 40% – free shipping
  • 26% – big discount on one item
  • 20% – small discount on the whole order
  • 10% – BOGO (buy one, get one type of offer)
  • 5% – gift with purchase

Despite the growing number of consumers who plan to do some – or even all – of their holiday shopping online this year, TimeTrade’s The State of Retail 2015 survey reported that 85 of consumers say they actually prefer to shop in physical stores. While it’s not possible for people to touch and feel products during the e-commerce holiday shopping experience, there could be other ways that e-tailers could improve the online shopping experience with amenities that feel more like an in-store shopping trip.

It stands to reason that e-commerce vendors who offer a better online shopping experience could even improve profit margins, by attracting more shoppers whose primary motivation was experiential vs. shoppers who are just looking online for deals.

60% of shoppers say quality and selection will determine where they will do their holiday shopping.

Likewise, stressing quality of merchandise and having the right amount and choices when it comes to holiday inventory could also help. The National Retail Federation’s 2016 Holiday Shopping Trends report notes that while 73 percent of consumers say their top reason for choosing a retailer is sale or discount-based, 6 out of 10 shoppers say that quality of merchandise is critical, along with 6 out of 10 who say that selection of merchandise is a top priority for them in deciding where to spend their holiday shopping budgets.

(NRF) National Retail Federation 2016 Holiday Shopping Forecast

Technology can be used to improve the online shopping experience from beginning to end; however, e-tailers who want to give shoppers more of an in-person shopping experience could do so by remembering that technology doesn’t have to feel so technical.

Personalizing the e-commerce holiday shopping experience and giving online shoppers a chance to interact with real, live concierge or personal shopping assistants could help e-tailers, especially luxury e-commerce merchants, replicate the personal assistance they provide in brick and mortar locations.

90% of shoppers are likely to buy when assisted by a knowledgeable salesperson.

When asked why they preferred shopping in-store to online, 90 percent of those surveyed in the TimeTrade study said that they were either somewhat or extremely likely to make a purchase when they received assistance from a knowledgeable salesperson. Creating an opportunity for online shoppers to interact with a knowledgeable salesperson when they view their shopping cart could also help prevent cart abandonment. This would give shoppers a chance to ask any questions or get information to erase doubts they might have about the products in their cart. It can also prevent the frustration that many shoppers say causes cart abandonment, which is when they have issues applying discounts.

“Success is achieved and maintained by those who try and keep trying.” – W Clement Stone.

No matter how good an online shopping experience is, there’s always room for improvement. Though technology makes it possible for e-tailers to do more, with less, there’s always the chance that what they are choosing to do without is the one thing that the customer doesn’t want to go without.


We would love to be part of your story.
Whether you need us to evaluate the shopping experience on your site, survey your customers, provide competitive research, so that you can do more by providing a better customer experience, we can help. Ask for information or reach out for a free, no-obligation proposal. 


SheerID 2016 Holiday E-commerce Shopping Infographic

SheerID 2016 holiday shopping infographic

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