Holiday shoppingWhile comScore predicts  holiday shoppers will spend more than $32 billion online this year, that's just a fraction of the $852 billion Deloitte expects in overall holiday spending. So what's keeping more of that money from being spent online? 

Stats from Millward Brown reveal factors keeping shoppers tied to the retail store experience. They also shed light on three ways etailers can make the online shopping experience more attractive.

1 - Include product recommendations and reviews

Nearly half (49%) of all the shoppers Millward Brown surveyed said they "liked the ideas they got from browsing" while in stores, a hint that shopping online isn't as helpful at sparking new gift ideas.  

Recommendation tools, including automatic copy that suggests similar items to one a user clicks on, can help recreate that "browsing" experience while online. See the example from Charlotte Russe below:

 Charlotte Russe recommendation screengrab

Smart etailers are already doing this, since including recommendations can boost average order size and adding reviews can help make a site feel more social.

2 - Take steps to make your site feel festive

Some 42% of shoppers said they enjoyed the atmosphere of stores during the holidays, so etailers can benefit from creating a similar atmosphere on their sites.

Gap, for example, has a snowy background on its homepage, as well as search-driven landing pages.

Gap holiday website

But that doesn't mean all sites need to do a full revamp. Small changes like adding images of gifts, holiday trim and festive colors can make a difference. There's even the option of having holiday tunes in the background that complement your brand. While you don't have to bombard shoppers with auto-play music (something brick and mortar stores don't seem to understand), you might have Sinatra tunes, jazz or other holiday music as a click-to-play option shoppers can choose.

3 - Make sure to create as tactile an experience as possible

Half of the shoppers surveyed said they shop in stores rather than online because they like the ability to see and touch items before purchase. And this is one of the largest hurdles etailers face - particularly with purchases like apparel.

Technology can help create a more tactile online shopping experience. French glasses and contacts retailer, Atol, for example, uses an augmented reality tool to let shoppers see what they'd look like wearing specific lenses.

  Atol glasses augmented reality

Virtual dressing rooms can create similar experiences for apparel etailers, while video and interactive product demos can help make other products (gadgets, cookware, etc.) more appealing. YOUReality, for example, lets shoppers visualize how  furniture they purchase will look inside their homes.

YOUReality screengrab

“Bricks-and-mortar retailers enjoy advantages that are hard for online retailers to overcome,” says Ann Green, SVP of marketing solutions at Millward Brown. “No description of cashmere can match the sensation of actually feeling it, and the inspiration people gain by shopping in physical stores cannot be ignored.”

Still, by stealing a few tips from physical retailers, etailers can help boost their conversions with consumers searching for that holiday spirit.

Photo Credit: dave416 via Flickr

Tameka Kee

Published 26 November, 2010 by Tameka Kee

Tameka Kee has been covering digital media with a focus on online advertising, social media and gaming since 2007. Find her at or follow her on Twitter

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Comments (2)


rebekah donaldson

Great piece David. These stats are up-to-the-minute and useful. And it's interesting to see recommendation #2 backed up with sound thinking - because if I were asked about whether a festive feel at a site influences me I'd say no (goes to show how relying on gut sense, and/or inferring what works for a whole audience based on what works with me, is risky).

I wonder whether you'd consider a 4th recommendation, to eliminate fear of fraud in shoppers. I don't just mean the trust markers and symbols indicating secure checkout. Through work with a client I learned how six times as much revenue is lost each year to fear of fraud than to actual fraud (U.S. Federal Trade Commission). VeriSign says half of Internet users avoid buying online, for fear of their financial information being stolen. And of those who have been victims of fraud, 12% don’t shop online any longer, 25% shop less frequently, and 19% spend less when they do shop online. It seems that making online shopping safer for consumers means a more profitable online environment for all - ?

over 7 years ago

Mark Simpson

Mark Simpson, Founder and President at Maxymiser

With an influx of online shoppers, as well as those who are using their mobile devices for purchases, continual website and mobile optimization with multivariate testing and website personalization is crucial for online retailers to succeed (and exceed) this holiday shopping season-- as well as to avoid pricing wars with competitors by providing site visitors the best site experience with the most optimal offers and the fatest route to check-out.

over 7 years ago

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