Digital and multichannel retailers were able to lure consumers into spending record amounts online this year despite a difficult economic landscape.

But there's more good news for online retailers: according to a survey conducted by Baynote, consumers were pretty darn happy with their online holiday shopping experiences.

Baynote's Annual Holiday Online Shopping Experience Survey found that a full 84% of consumers rated their shopping experience between Cyber Monday and Christmas eve as "good" or "excellent", a 6 point jump from 78% in 2010.

The key to a quality experience, as indicated by those surveyed, doesn't surprise. For the most part, this includes what has come to be accepted as 'the basics'; an efficient checkout process, customer reviews and personalised recommendations.

But there is plenty of room for improvement, particularly when it comes to social and mobile.

On the social front, the intersection of social media and e-commerce has garnered a lot of attention in the past year, but it's proving to be a challenge intersection for retailers to navigate. 80% of those surveyed by Baynote indicated that social networks didn't influence their purchasing decisions.

When it comes to the biggest social network, Facebook, there are signs that Facebook commerce, or f-commerce, has potential. 9% of consumers purchased something from a Facebook Page, and 20% made a purchase based on a Facebook promotion. That's pretty significant when you think about it. But the overall Facebook/e-commerce experience only earned a C+ grade on average.

When it comes to mobile, tablets are really taking off, with nearly half of tablet owners indicating that they had made a holiday purchase using their devices. An even bigger percentage (60%) said they'd shop online using tablets in the coming year. As Baynote observes, this far eclipses the number of mobile phone users who plan to shop online using their phones (21%).

Needless to say, online retailers should be encouraged by the potential for social and tablet-based mobile, and there's no doubt that many have the chops to drive significant improvements in these channels by the 2012 holiday shopping season. But they won't want to get too distracted.

According to Baynote, email and search brought home the bacon this holiday season, noting "Consumers found coupons and promotions delivered via email, direct mail and search more useful than those received via emerging channels such as daily deal sites and social networks."

In other words, the more things change, the more they stay the same.

Patricio Robles

Published 13 January, 2012 by Patricio Robles

Patricio Robles is a tech reporter at Econsultancy. Follow him on Twitter.

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