With retailers and businesses fully engaged in holiday sales, the recently previewed BIA/Kelsey Consumer Commerce Monitor reveals that local consumers are using a wide range of traditional and digital channels to engage with local businesses, with a majority (59.5%) of people surveyed having made an online purchase of local merchandise or services within the last six months.
Based on a recent survey of 2,000 U.S. adult consumers on how they are evolving their use of traditional and online channels to find, engage and transact with local-serving businesses, BIA/Kelsey and its research partner, Ipsos, expect local consumers will leverage all tools at their disposal in 2013 – ranging from traditional loyalty programs and sales to mobile devices and tablets – to secure the best possible deals. They key for businesses will be identifying – not assuming – what tools consumers will use most and strive to reach them where they are most active.
[Click to register for BIA/Kelsey’s “Consumer Commerce Trends: Local Shoppers Up Their Multi-Channel Savvy This Holiday Season” Webinar on Wednesday, November 6th at 2:00 PM Eastern]
As we edge out of October, consumer spending continues to grow, albeit slowly. With household purchases accounting for 70% of the U.S. economy, understanding how local consumer buying habits are changing is critical intelligence for businesses that want to grow sales and finish the year in the black.
Here are some observations based on a preview of BIA/Kelsey’s Consumer Commerce Monitor and research from other sources:
1. Social Media Builds Engagement, Not Transactions
Social media is a great tool for building engagement and relationships, but Adobe, which has tracked website traffic during the holidays the last few years, identified that social media is not a great transactional solution. In 2012, 40% of retailer traffic was direct, 34% was from search, 25% was referral traffic from other sites and only 2% was a result of social media.
2. Online Displays And Email Marketing Continue To Be Retailer Preferences
In a survey of 212 retail marketing executives, online traffic-tracking firm Experian found that 59% of retailers would use online displays and 55% would use email marketing. Surprisingly, only 24% indicated mobile marketing would be a key channel for the holidays, though 43% would have a mobile web presence for consumers to access.
3. 70% Of Marketers To Use Online Promotions – 26% Of Local Consumer Purchases (In-Person And Online) Over The Last Six Months Were Through Promotions
The Experian survey I referenced above also showed that a high percentage of retail marketers (70%) planned to use some online promotional offer, such as free shipping (39%), deal-of-the-day and coupons. According to the BIA/Kelsey Consumer Commerce Monitor, 26% of local purchases by consumers over the last six months were through promotions. This should be one of the most popular areas for retailers in the 2013 holiday season.
4. Desktops, Laptops, Smartphones And Tablets Playing Greater Role For Shoppers
According to the BIA/Kelsey Consumer Commerce Monitor consumers who went online to purchase or research local merchandise or services used a wide variety of devices. Approximately 60% used laptops, 57% desktops, 37% smartphones and 19% tablets. Mobile apps, which is something many companies are experimenting with, also are growing in popularity. Smartphone and tablet users reported to BIA/Kelsey they use at least 3 mobile apps for local shopping and finding events and deals “on a regular basis.” This is significant for companies like Yelp, ShopLocal and FindGravy. For retailers and other local businesses, this means gaining both a mobile-friendly (read responsive designed website) and app presence will be key. This especially true since according to the National Retail Federation more than one-quarter (27.0%) of holiday shoppers said they shopped online on Thanksgiving Day, and nearly half (47.5%) on Black Friday.
5. Check Your List: Shoppers Subscribe On Average To More Than 8 Local Business Loyalty Programs
Lastly, local shoppers are using business loyalty programs. The Consumer Commerce Monitor reported that on average consumers are 8.8 local business customer lists. This last factor fits with how retailers are planning to market to their customer base. It also highlights the importance of tackling list management and/or list growth on a consistent basis to ensure a strong communications vehicle.
For more information about the data from the BIA/Kelsey Consumer Commerce Monitor, be sure to register for their upcoming free Webinar on Wednesday, November 6th at 2:00 pm Eastern. Click to register.