More than one in five consumers purchased or checked out products online via a mobile device when holiday shopping for themselves or others, according to a new survey by The NPD Group. That number was double among Millennial consumers between the ages of 18 and 34.

“Online shopping continues to grow in importance, and holiday 2015 was a clear example of this, with mobile playing a key role,” said Marshal Cohen, chief industry analyst at NPD. “Consumers, especially in younger generations, are demanding a new kind of shopping experience, and retailers need to be prepared in order to be able to capture their attention.”

In addition, about 25 percent of holiday shoppers had trouble finding everything they wanted to purchase, and when this occurred, 11 percent searched for those products online via a mobile device.

“Shopping on a mobile device is something consumers can do while still in the store and something retailers can use to their benefit, rather than letting a potential sale walk,” continued Cohen. “Shoppers have access to a broader product assortment online, so they feel like they have more options. This dynamic is more powerful than using heavy promotions to counteract the lack of new products being offered in many industries.”

NPD also found that promotions helped to stimulate consumers, but they didn’t necessarily have a lasting impact. Nearly 75 percent of shoppers took advantage of sales offerings during the 2015 holiday shopping season, and nearly half of all consumers purchased something for themselves while shopping during the season. However, 17 percent of shoppers said they returned or planned to return those products they bought for themselves. That number is higher than those who planned to return gifts they received from others, illustrating that a heavy promotional season has its limitations.

“In order to drive measurable sales growth and long-term success, retailers need to work harder at finding new ways to engage shoppers, utilizing a cohesive omnichannel and omnipresent approach, while also giving consumers the fresh and exciting product offerings they crave,” said Cohen.

NPD surveyed 1,040 respondents in its online consumer panel. U.S. adults, 18 years or older, participated in the survey, which was fielded between Dec. 26 and Jan. 4.


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