Rising holiday ecommerce figures put pressure on retailers

While in-store displays, face-to-face interactions and retail atmosphere are all important to customer satisfaction management, a recent report suggests that retailers will increasingly need to adapt these approaches to the online sphere.

While in-store displays, face-to-face interactions and retail atmosphere are all important to customer satisfaction management, a recent report suggests that retailers will increasingly need to adapt these approaches to the online sphere.

According to a new report from comScore, holiday ecommerce spending is set to rise by 14 percent in the U.S., from $8.6 billion to $9.7 billion year-over-year. Already, November 16 has seen high online spending, hitting $688 million in a single day.

"With the persistent backdrop of macroeconomic uncertainty and continued high unemployment, consumers appear to be increasingly favoring the online benefits of convenience and lower prices," said comScore chairman Gian Fulgoni. "Based on the expectation that these positive spending trends will continue for the season, this year promises to be a Merry Christmas indeed for online retailers."

Online retail spending is projected to see an even greater jump, rising 15 percent from $32.6 billion last year to $37.6 billion this holiday spending season. From January through October, online retail increased 13 percent year-over-year to reach $124.3 billion.

"These projected growth rates reflect the significant channel shift we're witnessing from offline retail as an increasing number of consumers rely on the online channel for initial browsing, price comparisons and completing transactions," Fulgoni adds.

Driving the increase in sales could be a potentially higher number of discounts or promotions available than in years past. Seventy-eight percent of survey respondents said they noticed that the number of sales and promotions from retailers is either greater or the same compared to last year. Only 7 percent of respondents said the number has decreased.

One factor that features prominently in consumers decision to buy and, as a result, has become a common incentive offered by online retailers is free shipping. In fact, 30 percent of respondents told comScore that free shipping was so important, they won't make a purchase without it. Another 46 percent noted it was "somewhat important" and that they "actively seek out free shipping deals."

In the third quarter of 2011, 40 percent of retail ecommerce purchases included free shipping, comScore notes.

As the social and location-based marketing worlds grow more influential, the pressure for retailers to keep up in the online world increases. Through adopting multichannel marketing strategies that leverage mobile, computer and in-store, retailers will be better equipped to face the changing consumer atmosphere.