holiday season shopping mall blur

As the holiday season is coming to an end, early signs point again to traditional retailers are struggling with foot traffic.

Despite concerns the US economy may be slowing in 2019, the 2018 holiday shopping season is on target to end up with another record year, thanks to online shopping.

On Thanksgiving and Black Friday, the traditional biggest shopping days for traditional retailers, foot traffic at stores and malls was down by 1.7 percent over 2017.

Yet, overall sales for the same time period rose 9 percent and Mastercard expects total holiday sales to grow by 5 percent this year.

While retailers offered huge discounts even before Thanksgiving this year to get a jump on the holiday rush, the heavy discounting did not help get more people into stores.

Weekly circulars and email offers from retailers continue to be filled with Black Friday style sales and discounts, this year it seems many consumers favor convenience over discounts.

Convenience Wins

According to data from DataStax, the company found patience is wearing thin with consumers shopping in stores, especially during the busy holiday shopping season.

While some people may suggest this is the results of a strong US economy, the DataStax data found similar trends in other countries with less robust economies.

  • Nearly 7 in 10 (69%) international adults are willing to spend extra to reduce their wait times for services
    • Those who are willing to pay more will shell out, on average, 21% extra to reduce their wait
    • US adults are by far the most willing to pay a premium: on average 29% more than the asking price. They are followed by the UK at 23%, France at 18%, and Germany, the least willing to fork over additional money, at 15%
  • In the United States, millennials (age 18-34) who are willing to pay more, on average, will pay 40% over the regular price
  • Online service issue complaints likely need to be responded to while the issue is still top of mind, as nearly half (48%) of international adults will only wait 30 minutes or less
  • Only 3% of international adults are willing to wait more than 30 minutes for service at a brick-and-mortar retail store
    • German adults are least likely to wait 30 minutes (1%), followed by French adults (2%), UK adults (3) and US adults (7%)

Change in Consumer Expectations

Lower prices and larger selections mostly drove the early success in eCommerce. But over time, consumer shopping patterns shifted as eCommerce changed to focus on fast and convenience delivery.

“At DataStax, we call this desire for convenience the ‘Me’ Culture: a culture that starts and ends with an individual’s immediate needs and desires, and in which businesses must learn to proactively engage customers and prospects with offers and content that appeal uniquely to them,” said Eric Brown, VP of Corporate Marketing at DataStax. “Our culture is rapidly shifting to a focus on immediacy and intimacy at levels we didn’t even imagine just a few years ago.”

“When it comes to delivering on customer experience initiatives, it helps to know exactly what your audience’s expectations are and how buyers prioritize the various ways a business can provide faster, more personalized service and/or products,” said Brown.

Certainly, Amazon had a large hand in shaping consumer expectations as the giant retailer improved its logistics network to focus on fast and convenient delivery.

Today, every online merchant has to match Amazon’s delivery experience as consumers now consider Amazon the de facto standard in eCommerce.

And as small online merchants match Amazon’s eCommerce experience, it will put more pressure on traditional retailers to maintain foot traffic in their store.

What is your thought on how eCommerce has changed consumer expectations? Please use the comments section below or head over to our Facebook Group for Small Business Sellers and interact with other small business owners.

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