SDL's Holiday Study Finds Consumers Willing to Pay More for a Positive Customer Experience

Sixty percent of global holiday shoppers will pay more for a positive customer experience, according to the annual Holiday Shopping Preferences Study conducted by SDL, a customer experience management provider. A broad examination of shopping preferences and behaviors, SDL's study comes at a critical time for retailers--in October, the National Retail Federation predicted a 3.9 percent increase in consumer spending during this holiday season, a rate that is higher than the projected 10-year average holiday sales growth of 3.3 percent.

SDL's study, which surveyed more than 4,000 consumers across the United States, the United Kingdom, and Australia, revealed that this holiday season, a positive customer experience will play a decisive role. According to study results, more than 60 percent of global consumers are willing to pay more for a product if the brand delivers a positive customer experience. For consumers in the U.S., that total expands to nearly 73 percent.

The study delivered other insight as well, revealing that key shopping dates are losing relevance to consumers worldwide. Eighty-two percent of shoppers in the United States confirm that they're not waiting for Black Friday to start their holiday shopping, while 80 percent confirm the same for Cyber Monday.

Brick-and-mortar standing remains strong according to SDL, and despite the growth in online sales volume, consumer preferences of online against traditional brick-and-mortar stores continue to experience only slight growth.

Purchases through mobile remain stagnant, the study showed, as the majority of consumers in the U.S. (64 percent), U.K. (68 percent), and Australia (67 percent) claim that they are not using a tablet or smartphone more this year when it comes to purchasing gifts. Mobile has emerged as a valuable research tool, however; 45 percent of all respondents use mobile devices to conduct research.

SDL's findings demonstrated that showrooming continues to play a key role in holiday shopping. Fifty-five percent of the holiday respondents this year are researching products they want to buy directly in the store. This is a more common research option than the use of online tools such as retailer websites, which account for only 42 percent, and other ecommerce sites or comparison tools, which account for 26 percent. Social media lags behind as a research tool, however. Despite the growing popularity of social channels, only 5 percent of respondents learn about products on Facebook and Google+ while less than 2 percent learn about products on Pinterest and Twitter.

Unexpectedly, the study also revealed that 80 percent of global shoppers prefer to shop during personal time, "challenging the belief that online holiday shopping drains workplace productivity," according to a company statement. Contrary to previously held beliefs, nearly 71 percent of global respondents say that they aren't shopping online for the holidays during working hours.

"The holiday shopping season is a critical time for brands to provide a positive customer experience," Mark Lancaster, CEO of SDL, says. "Our study shows that consumers' preferences and behaviors can shift considerably from year to year, from country to country. Organizations that are able to consistently deliver compelling and engaging experiences, across media and geographies, are those that are poised to be successful this holiday season."

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