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Holidays Present Opportunity to Win Customers For Good

Holidays Present Opportunity to Win Customers For Good
Give consumers the gift of great customer experience / Credit: Gift image via Shutterstock

Consumers are looking for more than just deals this holiday season: New research shows that most consumers are also seeking a great buying experience — and they're willing to pay up for it.

The study, released by global customer-experience management company SDL, found that customer experience plays a significant role in how most consumers shop.

The study asked consumers about their preferred media, shopping times and buying behavior, and found that 60 percent of holiday shoppers worldwide and 73 percent of U.S. shoppers are willing to pay more for a product if the brand delivered a positive customer experience.

"The holiday shopping season is a critical time for brands to provide a positive customer experience," Mark Lancaster, CEO of SDL, said in a statement. "Our study shows that consumers' preferences and behaviors can shift considerably from year to year, from country to country. Organizations that are able to consistently deliver compelling and engaging experiences, across media and geographies, are those that are poised to be successful this holiday season."

According to the study, organizations such as the National Retail Federation and Verdict expect consumer spending to increase this year, making it even more critical for brands to consistently deliver a compelling and engaging customer experience.

[7 Ways to (Really) Know Your Customers]

To better help businesses leverage consumer sales this holiday season, the study revealed addition insights into consumer behavior and shopping preferences.

Worldwide, key shopping dates matter less to consumers, the study revealed. In the United States alone, 82 percent of respondents said they will not wait for Black Friday to start shopping, and 80 percent will not wait for Cyber Monday. In the U.K. and Australia, 63 percent and 73 percent, respectively, do not plan their holiday shopping around a specific day.

Despite growth in online sales, consumers show an increased preference for brick-and-mortar stores, the study found. In the U.S., the percentage of shoppers who prefer the brick-and-mortar store experience to online shopping increased from 51 percent in 2012 to 53 percent this year, and from 43 percent to 45 percent in the U.K.

Although 45 percent of respondents said they use mobile devices to become more informed consumers, most are still unwilling to make mobile purchases. Nearly two-thirds — 64 percent — of U.S. consumers will not use a tablet or smartphone this year to purchase gifts, compared with 68 percent in the U.K. and 67 percent in Australia. 

Most consumers engage in showrooming, the practice of visiting stores to look at products and then using mobile devices to compare prices online. In fact, 55 percent of respondents said that this year, they are researching products they want to buy directly in the store. This method is more preferred than the use of other online tools, such as retailer websites (42 percent) and other e-commerce sites (26 percent).

While social media remains popular, when it comes to consumers, only 5 percent of respondents learn about products on Facebook and Google+, and less than 2 percent learn about products on Pinterest and Twitter, the study revealed.

The study also debunked the idea that most consumers shop during work hours and thus impede workplace productivity: 71 percent of global shoppers shop on their own time. Furthermore, the study found that more than 40 percent of U.S. shoppers prefer to shop in the evening, while consumers in the U.K. and Australia prefer to shop in the morning.

Originally published on BusinessNewsDaily.

Sara Angeles

Sara is a tech writer with a background in business and marketing. After graduating from UC Irvine, she worked as a copywriter and blogger for nonprofit organizations, tech labs and lifestyle companies. She started freelancing in 2009 and joined Business News Daily in 2013. Follow Sara Angeles on Twitter @sara_angeles.