Shopping online e-commerce

One in five consumers began their holiday shopping this past July with Amazon Prime Day as well as “Black Friday in July” promotions from other retailers, according to survey data from digital marketing firm Bazaarvoice in a report released today — which also found many consumers preferring to do their holiday shopping in a physical store.

Online shopping will draw the highest volume of shoppers, but in-store shopping is still important with more than a third (37 percent) of respondents planning to complete the bulk of their purchases in-store,” authors of the report said.

Bazaarvoice’s holiday insights and best practices in the report were culled from a survey of 2,500 consumers from the U.S., the U.K., France and Germany.

A spokeswoman said holiday shopping is also starting as early as July where “almost 20 percent of consumers reported to have started their holiday shopping as early as mid-summer with the enticement of ‘Black Friday in July’ sales, with nearly one in three [29 percent] shoppers starting in early fall.”

Looking at trends month-to-month, Bazaarvoice found consumers are researching products earlier as well. “Brands and retailers should prepare,” the company said in a statement. “Shoppers ramp up researching and purchasing in October and are increasingly looking for user-generated content to inform their purchases.”

Bazaarvoice said last year, “UGC [user-generated content] interaction rates on brand and retailer web sites” in its network “increased ahead of major sales days, showing shoppers like to do their research early.” UGC includes product reviews, and ratings.

In the U.S., based on 1,000 consumers polled, Bazaarvoice researchers found that convenience and improved product descriptions were highly desired and shaped consumer shopping preferences.

“Convenience is the key to the consumers’ hearts and wallets,” authors of the report said. “Driven by pain points in-store like lengthy lines and shipping times, consumers think brands can improve convenience with experiences like self-checkout, buy online, pick up in-store and implementing faster, more cost-efficient shopping solutions.”

With product descriptions, 49 percent of respondents said they have “returned a holiday gift in the past to exchange it for a different option, signaling that shoppers are looking to user-generated content, such as ratings and reviews, to learn more about products,” the company said.

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