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October 30, 2018 | London, United Kingdom

Ease and convenience mean more shoppers are buying through voice assistants and social media but stores still winning at Christmas

More consumers will be turning to the likes of Alexa and Google Home to buy their Christmas gifts this year, research has revealed. According to the Holiday Retail Outlook Report by Conversant, Epsilon and LoyaltyOne, a third (31%) of consumers made Christmas purchases via a voice assistant last year.

The report, which analysed consumer Christmas shopping trends, also showed that mobile is increasing its Christmas shopping dominance. According to the research, two-thirds (66%) of Christmas digital orders in 2017 were on a phone or tablet, an increase from 58% in 2016, while Christmas Day in-app purchases were up 12% compared with the previous year.

The option to multi-task is the big draw for voice and mobile shoppers. Two-fifths (40%) of consumers do their Christmas shopping while watching TV and a third (31%) when flipping through social media. In fact, more than half (55%) of consumers have made a purchase via a social media channel, yet only two-fifths (40%) of retailers currently offer social media as a purchase channel.

It’s clear that ease and convenience is what consumers want this Christmas. Recent research from CJ Affiliate even showed that it’s more important than bagging those cheap Christmas deals,” commented Elliott Clayton, SVP Media UK, Conversant. “However much a shopper may want that latest gadget, or if they’ve finally found the perfect gift, if buying it is difficult or takes too much effort, it puts them off. This Christmas, marketers need to make the buying process as simple and convenient as possible so that shoppers can grab the perfect gift on their mobile while commuting home from work, binging on Christmas TV, or making a last-minute purchase before bed.”

While mobile shopping and new tech are on the rise, traditional stores do still have their place at Christmas. The report revealed that 88% of consumers still make in-store purchases during the Christmas period ‒ but marketers shouldn’t consider these in-store experiences separate from online shopping activities.

According to the research, 46% of consumers start their shopping in store and then purchase online, while more than half (58%) first browse online and buy their Christmas shopping instore. For those marketers wishing to target younger shoppers, the vast majority (78%) were revealed to shop both in-store and online.

“Today, the omnichannel consumer experience is key,” continued Clayton. “It’s getting rarer and rarer for shoppers to research and buy in one single environment, be it in store, on their laptop, their mobile phone or tablet. Instead, it’s far more common for consumers to shop across these channels – research the product on their laptop for instance, then popping into a store to see a product in person, before finally making a purchase on their mobile phone. Making this multi-environment experience as seamless as possible is key to ensuring the consumer stays loyal to your brand.”