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Study: Amazon and marketplaces will play a starring role this holiday season

Amazon’s influence is encouraging consumers to shop on more digital channels, including marketplaces and social media.

This holiday season, 40% of customers plan to make half of their purchases on the online giant’s site. Further, 69% of consumers will choose marketplaces over retailers due to better prices.

This was according to “Competing for Customers During the Holidays and Beyond,” a study from Astound Commerce Insights.

According to the data, Amazon’s prices, fulfillment and variety are the factors that drive customers to their site. In fact, more than half of shoppers rank Amazon No. 1 for the lowest prices, speed of shipping, and broad assortment, while less than 25% of consumers rank brands and large stores No. 1 for the same categories.

Amazon’s popularity only confirms that marketplaces will play a larger role going forward. For example, 63% of shoppers will purchase from Amazon this season, 60% will purchase from Walmart, and 45% will buy goods from eBay.

Meanwhile, loyalty programs, like Prime, also continue to influence purchases. Forty-one percent (41%) of online shoppers will always make a purchase from a particular retailer, given their participation in a loyalty program.

While the main focus for the holidays will be on digital storefronts, other channels like social media will also play a critical role in driving sales. Social media will be a leading traffic driver to e-commerce sites. In fact, 59% of millennials have made a purchase as a result of a social engagement in the past, compared to only 50% of total consumers surveyed. More than half of millennials (55%) will be prompted to visit a website as a result of social media, compared to 45% of total respondents.

Mobility is also on the rise this holiday season. A quality mobile app or web experience will cause four in 10 consumers to make a purchase from a retailer. Nearly 40% of consumers plan to order more products on mobile this year than last year.

Despite the influence of digital channels, 66% of consumers will still go to physical stores to touch and feel products before making a purchase. While in-store, nearly a third (32%) of consumers are highly likely to use touchscreens or kiosks in store for product finders, ordering or delivery, and more than a quarter (27%) will use virtual reality (VR) to assist in product selection (beauty simulation, room planning, etc.).

“Brands and retailers must have a sophisticated set of programs, capabilities and customer service in place to grab their share of consumer dollars during the holidays with innovation always on the horizon,” said says Lauren Freedman, senior VP of digital strategy, Astound Commerce. “Marketplaces are well poised to continue their impressive growth, but competitors can leverage their physical stores and social media presence to entice customers to choose them instead.”
When it comes to what influences shoppers to make a purchase, price remains the top consideration when selecting a retailer. Over 50% will increase their behavior when it comes to shopping early for price promotions, looking for coupons and discounts, and gravitating towards free shipping, as they focus squarely on price.

There are also three “always” purchase factors that encourage them to purchase from a specific retailer: the “right” price (78%), free shipping (71%), and valuable promotions (60%).

Meanwhile, the top two logistics features that “always” drive shoppers to purchase from a specific retailer are “product is in stock and ready to ship” (73%), and fast delivery (66%). Free shipping is the number one factor outside of price that consumers care about, outranking product assortment, shipping speed, convenience and loyalty programs, the study reported.
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