E-Commerce Should Hold Its Own This Holiday Season

Consumer confidence remains a question mark, but one of the first looks at the upcoming holiday season is a survey by Advertising.com, which found 75 percent of shoppers will spend at least the same amount of money they did last year.

The survey, which was conducted by International Communications Research, found that 15 percent of shoppers plan to spend more money during the upcoming holiday season than they did last year. As for the Internet’s role, more than 25 percent of consumers will be shopping online, according to the study, and approximately half of those online shoppers expect to spend between $100 and $300, with an additional 25 percent planning to spend in excess of $300 online.

“Consumer are increasingly looking to the Internet as their one-stop shop for the holidays,” said Scott Ferber, CEO of Advertising.com. “As an alternative to crowded shopping malls, the Internet provides the speed, simplicity and comparison shopping capabilities not afforded by traditional outlets. The primary key to success for marketers is guaranteeing the ease and speed with which their customers can make a purchase. However, it is equally as important for marketers to precisely predict day-to-day purchasing volumes so that existing order placement and fulfillment processes are reliable.”


Common Influences on Online Purchases
Shipping fees 92%
Prices 92%
Product availability 86%
Special promotions or incentives 76%
Selection 69%
Order tracking 66%
Clearly identified delivery time 65%
Return policy 63%
Ease of use 62%
Site performance/speed 51%
Source: Vividence

Of the online shoppers surveyed, 76 percent described a variety of promotions as positive influences on their buying behavior. Coupons and free samples are the most favored promotions, followed by contests, games, sweepstakes and banner ads. Nearly 50 percent of respondents cited online coupons as potentially persuasive when shopping online.

According to the survey, consumers with a combined household income of $75,000 or more expect to do the most online shopping, with electronics as their primary intended purchase. More than half (52 percent) of men said they were most likely to purchase electronics online during the 2001 holidays. Women have more diversified lists, with toys, music and clothes among their top choices.

A survey by customer experience outfit Vividence found that 91 percent of its respondents said they would do at least some of their holiday shopping online this year. As with past holiday seasons, and with e-commerce in general, the respondents cite the convenience of online shopping as the No. 1 reason for shopping online (82 percent). Seventy said they percent shop online to avoid the crowds; 65 percent cited better prices.

The Vividence survey found consumers are more self-directed in finding shopping sites compared to last year, relying less on banner ads, email promotions and recommendations from others, and relying more on search engines and sites related to offline brands. Customers seem to be getting more familiar and more comfortable with what is available to them online.

Vividence also went back and re-ran its Holiday Readiness study after the attacks on Sept. 11 to track changes in the consumer mood. It found that participants would spend less overall this year, mostly due to concerns about the economy. But it also found consumers plan to shop more online in the wake of the attack, with 29 percent saying they were concerned about safety in the stores.


How Consumers Find Sites During the Holidays
2001 2000
Online equivalent of a retail store 57% 40%
Search engine 52% 42%
E-mail advertisement
or promotion
47% 54%
Friend, family or colleague 46% 49%
Online mall/shopping portal 42% 30%
Online message boards
or newsgroups
36% 42%
Banner ad 24% 33%
Source: Vividence

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