Christmas is just around the corner. I know I’m probably rushing the season a little even though some of the local big box stores already have a few Christmas items on display to get us in the mood.

The reason I bring this up, as we close out the end of September, is the fact that there are only 85 shopping days till Christmas and more people than ever before are going to do their shopping with smart phones, tablets and in the comfort of their living rooms on their laptops.

Retail or e-tail?

United Parcel Service (UPS) commissioned “comScore,” a data analysis firm, to get a handle on how shoppers prefer to buy. They found that 70 percent of the more than 3,000 shoppers surveyed said they preferred to shop their favorite retailer online. Half of the tablet owners prefer to shop that way and many shoppers wanted coupons and special offers sent to their phones based on their personal purchasing history. So much for concerns about cell phone and shopping privacy.

Customer Service?

How much customer service do you receive on a cell phone? Online customer satisfaction comes in with an 83 percent high rating. The only area that scored poorly was shipping and delivery. Shipping cost is often a consideration when making an online buying decision. Also, requesting a specific delivery date was often an issue. The bottom line? — Customers want more options to fit their lifestyle.

Some Online Shopping Stats

Growth in traditional brick and mortar retail stores is waning while online shopping popularity is increasing. Online shopping grew to $186 billion in 2012, seven times the growth of traditional retail spending. For the first time ever, e-commerce spending in the fourth quarter of 2012 reached an all time high of 10 percent of all discretionary spending.

New Buzzwords

Here are your new buzzwords for 2013. “Seamless omnichannel experience.” In a nutshell, 62 percent of shoppers in the survey said they would like the flexibility to buy online and return the product to the local store if necessary. Surprise, the consumer wants the best of all worlds. And those that answer that call will reap the end of the year business.

Another 44 percent said they would like to buy online and pick up their purchase at the local dealer that saves the shipping costs for the product and the hassle of the check out process. This is the best option for the storeowners because 38 percent will make additional purchases while in the store.

Some Final Thoughts

Retailers that are not embracing social media, online shopping, having a web site and cultivating the online shopper are in simple terms — dinosaurs. They are going to find it hard to have a profitable and successful shopping season. Your web site must convert and scale down to be easily readable on cell phones. If it doesn’t, contact your web designer and make the necessary changes.

Each year more and more people are moving to technology. Some welcome the convenience, others are dragged to it kicking and screaming. But like it or not the jury is in on e-commerce having a profound effect on sales.

I hope you will check out your local retailers and what they offer on their web sites this shopping season. Between now and Christmas I will post more helpful hints on how to make your holiday selling season better. Stay tuned.

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