e-tailing group’s Holiday 2006 ‘Multi-Channel Shopper’ Finds that Customer Is in Control

19 november 2006, 12:46

The e-tailing group, inc. has released findings from their most recent consumer survey, “The Mindset of the Multi-Channel Shopper: Holiday 2006,” conducted in partnership with StartSampling, Inc. This poll of over 1,300 consumers at the cusp of the shopping season clearly demonstrates their high expectations regarding merchant experiences online.

“Surveyed shoppers made it plain that they do not want any roadblocks as they navigate online, adeptly searching sites and efficiently editing via the toolsets they choose to use,” observed Lauren Freedman, President of the e-tailing group.

This “do it my way” mindset extends across channels as 54 percent plan to research products online prior to purchasing them for gifts and 50 percent either intend to or are undecided about making purchases online for pickup in-store.

The study also identified a sub-stratum of “power shoppers” who are planning to buy 20 or more gifts. Typically female (77 percent) and in the 25-44 age range (67 percent), they exhibited an even greater reliance on the web for both research and buying than the average shopper.

Overall, presented with a list of preferences for how they like to shop when purchasing a gift online, 54 percent of those surveyed chose “search directly for a specific item at a merchant site where I like to shop” followed by 39 percent who favored “browse multiple stores prior to completing a purchase.” More specifically, 44 percent typically comparison shop three sites before making a final purchase decision.

Additional insight was gained about the significance of search as respondents ranked its importance on a 1 to 5 scale (with 5 being the most important). The table below illustrates majority rankings as very to most important:

Shopper Ranking of Search Tools

“Very to Most Important” When Buying Gifts Online

Keyword search


Advanced Search (multiple parameters)


QuickShop (enter product # from print catalog)


Tools that help shoppers to make educated buying decisions also ranked highly, particularly those that enable comparisons or are customer-generated.

Shopper Ranking of Content Tools

“Very to Most Important” When Buying Gifts Online

Product comparison


Customer ratings/reviews


Guides/how-to information


Importantly the 54 percent who intend to be doing any holiday shopping online this year are doing so because it saves both time and money, with the desire for deals dominating. Per rankings of promotional tools, these shoppers are influenced by free shipping, sales/specials, and extras of all nature – from gift-with-purchase to limited time offerings.

Shopper Ranking of Promotional Tools

“Very to Most Important” When Buying Gifts Online

Free shipping






Free gift-with-purchase


Limited time deals


Gifting tools are less a factor though a split personality can be found between those who attempt to “surprise and delight” their recipients and those who look to quickly complete their shopping list. However, one must also consider that some of these features have a more limited presence as they are being offered on fewer sites (i.e. multiple ship to addresses, hold for delivery; e-gift announcements).

Shopper Ranking of Gifting Tools

“Very to Most Important” When Buying Gifts Online

Gift certificates/cards


Gift messages


Customized products


Multiple ship-to-address


Gift center


Gift suggestions


Wish list


Hold for later delivery


E-gift announcements


Address book


Gift wrap/box services


“Features that have traction with these surgical shoppers tend to be unique to the web and controllable versus the more established offline variety like what’s new or top sellers,” explained Freedman.

Shopper Ranking of Traditional Merchandising Tools

“Very to Most Important” When Buying Gifts Online

What’s new


Frequent buyer/loyalty programs


Brand boutiques


Top sellers


Last but not least shoppers may be tiring of poor customer service as can be seen in their high ranking of this toolset when deciding to buy gifts online. They want this information to be easily accessible and like being able to speak to a knowledgeable person with immediacy top of mind.

Shopper Ranking of Customer Service Tools

“Very to Most Important” When Buying Gifts Online

Accessible contract information


800/toll-free phone number


Live chat


The Mindset of the Multi-Channel Shopper: Holiday 2006, also included two questions where respondents openly shared their best and worst online gifting experience. Their desire for control, ease of shopping, and value was succinct as the following examples communicate:

· “Finding something that no one else had been able to find, with a coupon and free shipping. And it was perfect!”

· “The product was in stock, easy to find on the Web site and sent out in a timely matter.”

· “…the site was informative and easy to use; the gift was well received on time and already wrapped.”

· “…by far the most consistent and easiest site to use, very user friendly, easy return policy—very comprehensive comparison shopping of different models, brands and product features.”

· “I ordered something and it included a free gift for me!!!”

At the end of the date Freedman says, “Shopping is still about finding the right product at the right price and giving the customer the service they are demanding.”

The e-tailing group, inc. serves as the multi-channel merchant’s eye, bringing a merchant’s sensibility to evolving the multi-channel shopping experience and actionable merchandising solutions to merchants selling online as well as to enabling technology firms. For more background about this research study or for additional information on the e-tailing group, inc. please contact Lauren Freedman at lf@e-tailing.com or visit the e-tailing group Web site at www.e-tailing.com.

StartSampling, Inc. is a leading marketing research and promotions company that connects brand marketers and researchers with a panel of more than 2.4 million consumers who want to “Try Something New”. StartSampling integrates its flexible business model with its Web site, www.startsampling.com, to help companies accurately target and reach active, engaged and vocal consumers. StartSampling has created proprietary methodologies that leverage unique consumer interfaces and communications to give marketers innovative information to create new and loyal customers for brands. For more information on how StartSampling can help you connect with your consumers call 630-868-2000.


Marco Derksen
Partner bij Upstream

Oprichter/partner Upstream, Marketingfacts, Arnhem Direct, SportNext, TravelNext, RvT VPRO, Bestuur Luxor Live, social business, onderwijs, fotografie en vader!


Marketingfacts. Elke dag vers. Mis niks!