Applause Global Survey Finds Online Holiday Spending to Increase Even as Consumers Return to Retail Stores

Consumers Want Better Omnichannel Experiences, Even as They Return to Retail Stores

Applause, the worldwide leader in enabling digital quality, today announced the 2021 results of its annual global survey on holiday shopping trends. The survey took place in October with more than 2,800 respondents from across the Americas, EMEA and APAC. The research showed substantial changes year-over-year in how and where consumers intend to buy this holiday season, with an increase in both online shopping and comfort with making in-store purchases.

While Applause’s research found that digital shopping is on the rise, how users buy online is changing. In the 2020 survey, 53% said they prefer to do their online shopping via laptop or computer with the remaining 47% opting for a smartphone or tablet. This year the roles reversed: 57.5% said they preferred a mobile device while 42.5% chose the computer or laptop option.

In a welcome change, 69% said they feel comfortable returning to physical locations – a sharp increase from Applause’s 2020 survey where less than half (46%) of the respondents said they felt comfortable shopping in-store. The survey found that 45% of those who plan to visit in-store locations for their holiday shopping plan to spend less than they did in 2020. Of the 91% who said they plan to shop online, 68% plan to spend the same amount or more online than they did last year.

Even with more consumers planning to visit brick-and-mortar shops, retailers should focus on the digital experiences they deliver to end users. Omnichannel shopping continues to be a favorite for consumers looking to stay safe during the pandemic, with 58% using services like curbside pickup, BOPIS (buy online, pick up in-store) and BORIS (buy online, return in-store), and 66% saying they are more likely to shop with a brand if they offer omnichannel options.

“COVID-19 has greatly impacted how consumers shop and what options they expect from their favorite retailers,” said Luke Damian, Applause’s Chief Growth Officer. “Retailers must evolve their digital and omnichannel experiences to align to new norms that not only mandate greater function and ease of use, but also expand on safety and convenience. To deliver great experiences to end users, regardless of where they take place, retailers will greatly benefit from conducting real-world testing to ensure they can provide shopping options that are intuitive, enjoyable and that work every single time without fail.”

There is still work to be done when it comes to omnichannel shopping, however, as 24% of those who had used curbside pickup before reported issues finding where to park in order to receive their item and/or had trouble identifying the option for curbside pickup on their digital device.

The ways in which people prefer to pay are evolving too. Globally, credit (38.5%) and debit cards (32.7%) ranked as the preferred choice for holiday shopping across the globe, followed by mobile wallets (14.2%) and then cash (11.3%). Mobile wallets were an especially popular choice in APAC and EMEA where 26% and 16%, respectively, named them their payment method of choice. Only in the Americas did cash outrank mobile wallets by a slight margin of 9% to 8%.

Other key findings from the survey include:

  • Price remained the biggest factor for online purchases; Thirty-nine percent (39%) of respondents in 2021 and 40% in 2020 listed price as their chief consideration.

  • Encountering a bug during the checkout process is the top reason that shoppers will abandon their purchases, according to over half (52%) of respondents.

  • Supply chain and inventory issues are causing consumers to rethink their holiday shopping schedules: Globally, 40% of respondents said supply chain/inventory issues would factor into their holiday shopping plans.

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About Applause

Applause is a world leader in testing and digital quality. Brands today win or lose customers through digital interactions, and Applause delivers authentic feedback on the quality of digital assets and experiences, provided by real users in real-world settings. Our disruptive approach harnesses the power of the Applause platform and leverages the uTest community of more than one million independent digital testers worldwide. Unlike traditional testing methods (including lab-based and offshoring), Applause responds with the speed, scale and flexibility that digital-focused brands require and expect. Applause provides insightful, actionable testing results that can directly inform go/no go release decisions, helping development teams build better and faster, and release with confidence. Digital-first brands rely on Applause as a best practice to deliver the digital experiences their customers love.

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