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Smartphones, social media and in-store customer service to play big roles in holiday shopping behavior

BY Michael Johnsen

NEW YORK — Smartphones may be among retailers’ strongest allies this holiday season, according to Deloitte’s annual holiday survey of consumer spending intentions and trends released Monday.

“We anticipate that retailers will increasingly interact with mobile shoppers this holiday season,” stated Alison Paul, vice chairman of Deloitte and retail & distribution sector leader. “Deloitte’s research into smartphones’ influence on in-store sales indicates that the conversion rate for shoppers who use a retailer’s dedicated mobile application is 21% higher than those who do not. This holiday season, branded applications, Wi-Fi connectivity and personalized, location-based promotions from retailers can enable shoppers to make an immediate buying decision in the store.”

This year, Deloitte anticipates that in-store sales influenced by consumers’ smartphone use will account for $36 billion, or 5.1% of total holiday retail store sales.

“The store continues to be central to holiday shopping, but its role and that of the store associate is evolving as the physical and virtual shopping experiences merge,” Paul said.  “Associates should be more informed and empowered than in the past; they should have the ability to make price-matching decisions on the spot, and be well-versed on promotions and products that customers are viewing via the retailer’s mobile and online channels.”

Armed with their smartphones, these holiday shoppers may also be highly valuable to retailers this season, as they are expected to spend 72% more than those who do not plan to use smartphones, spending a total of $1,428 on the holidays across categories, including gifts, entertaining at home, socializing away from home, non-gift clothing, home/holiday furnishings and other holiday spending.  

Half of consumers surveyed own smartphones, and 68% plan to use their phones for holiday shopping this year by getting store locations (62%), checking and comparing prices (58%) and obtaining product information (50%).  

Online shopping and social media will also play significant roles in the gift-buying season this year. According to Deloitte, 45% of consumers surveyed plan to shop online for holiday gifts. Many shoppers will head to the web to strike a deal, but also to become more informed about the purchases they are making. 

More than half of the survey respondents (55%) indicated they often read online reviews before buying holiday merchandise online, and nearly 3 in 10 said they will rely on reviews more this year than last year. 

And 48% of shoppers surveyed will make social media part of their holiday shopping process. Among this group, more than half will tap into social networks to look for discounts (54%) and research gift ideas (53%), while 47% plan to read reviews.

When shopping online, 47% of consumers surveyed indicated that low prices are most important when shopping a particular retailer. Online shoppers surveyed also expect some free perks: More than 7 in 10 consumers surveyed said they are more likely to shop online from retailers who offer free shipping, and 56% said the same about retailers who offer free returns. 

However consumers might engage technology as they shop for the holidays, in-store service is still critical in enticing consumers to buy at retail. More than 1-in-4 consumers surveyed suggested they would be more likely to shop retailers that offer barcode scanners in the aisles to confirm prices and features. Approximately 1-in-5 seek retailers that offer to ship to their homes (22%) and provide self-service or mobile checkout (19%). 

As many as 56% of shoppers surveyed said they will be more likely to purchase from a store retailer that has knowledgeable sales associates. Additionally, 38% of consumers expect store associates to have the ability to match prices.

Four-out-of-10 consumers surveyed indicated that during the holidays, they will be more likely to seek help from store associates in electronics or office supply stores, followed by traditional department stores (26%) and discount stores (22%).

For more information about Deloitte’s annual holiday survey, including additional statistics, historical data and useful links, go to Deloitte.com/us/2012HolidaySurvey.

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anddy says:
Jul-22-2013 08:53 am

This is an interesting phenomenon to watch. Every only business owner should be aware of all the risks and all the opportunities the online environment can bring. I wonder if the international shipping costs are influenced by this as well...

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Walk with Walgreens School Challenge stepped up exercise curriculum with nearly 1,800 hours of walking

BY Michael Johnsen

DEERFIELD, Ill. — Students participating in a school challenge developed by the Walk with Walgreens program and Alliance for a Healthier Generation helped add nearly 1,800 hours of walking to schools’ daily routine over the course of the six-week program. Each school that exceeded the minimum walking goal will receive a $1,000 grant from Walgreens to implement or enhance the school’s physical activity curriculum, Walgreens announced Tuesday.

“Whether it’s walking more, or simply exploring the school grounds and being more active, this program is an easy way to encourage physical activity, which is a great benefit to children during the school day,” stated Bonnie Gordon, Walgreens director of cause marketing. “It demonstrates the value of healthy habits and the simple steps we’re helping people take to get, stay and live well.”

"We know that children need at least 60 minutes of physical activity each day," stated Ginny Ehrlich, CEO of the Alliance for a Healthier Generation. "We’re proud to team up with Walgreens to offer more opportunities throughout the school day for kids to have fun while moving more. It’s important these programs inspire lifelong healthy habits."

“In just six weeks, this challenge has changed the atmosphere and attitude toward health at our school," commented Jennifer Velez, John. M. Sexton Elementary physical education teacher. “The Walk with Walgreens School Challenge has been a welcomed addition to our work with the Alliance for a Healthier Generation.”

Ten elementary schools and more than 6,000 students in Charlotte, N.C., and Tampa, Fla., participated in the initiative to help incorporate and encourage healthier habits.

The Walk with Walgreens School Challenge was designed to help encourage students and faculty to increase their physical activity and learn healthy habits. As part of the challenge, each school classroom was challenged with adding a minimum of 10 extra minutes of walking per day to the school day, outside of recess and physical education. Some examples of ways educators increased physical activity included walking school grounds for seed identification during science class and reciting multiplication facts while walking the gymnasium.

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Obama win solidifies health reform’s future

BY Jim Frederick

It looks like health reform is for keeps.

The re-election last week of Barack Obama and the ability of the Republicans to retain control of the House of Representatives leaves many uncertainties — and sets the stage for more battles between Congress and the White House over the direction of the still sluggish economic recovery, national debt reduction efforts and a slew of other domestic and foreign challenges. But one thing seems clear: With Democrats retaining the presidency for another term, the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act is far more likely to withstand challenges from Republican lawmakers determined to overturn the landmark law.

President Obama signed the health-reform bill into law in March 2010, and continues to cite its passage as one of his proudest accomplishments as president. But it’s certain that the president’s Republican rivals will continue to challenge many elements of the health-reform law in Congress and at the state level.

Nevertheless, by returning Barack Obama to the White House, a majority of Americans also have effectively endorsed his ambitious, if incomplete, overhaul of the fractured healthcare system. Reflecting the deep divisions within Congress, 45% of voters who responded to exit polls last Tuesday said they thought the health-reform law should be partially or totally repealed. But 47% of those polled favored keeping it in its present form or even expanding it.

My sense is that acceptance of the law will gradually increase as Americans get used to the benefits touted by the president and top health officials at the Department of Health and Human Services, like being able to keep their kids on their insurance plans until age 26 and not worrying about being dumped by their health plan if they get sick.

Still to be confronted, however, are potential minefields spawned by the new law as it nears full implementation in 2014. Will small employers really hold down hiring to avoid crossing the threshold at which they’ll have to start paying employee health costs, as the Romney campaign warned? Will thousands of health providers really throw in the towel over issues like compensation and regulatory oversight? Will health costs skyrocket? Will healthcare rationing be a real issue?

Personally, I doubt it. Americans are an enterprising and resourceful lot, and very adept at finding market solutions to adapt to changing conditions in the market. Other countries that have adopted health reforms in relatively recent times, like Switzerland, have adapted and even come to embrace the combination of government and free-market solutions to an unsustainable rise in health costs. We will too.

Or is America a special case? What’s your take? Is health reform ultimately good for the country, and for the pharmacy industry? Or are we headed off the rails? Please share your opinion below.

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D.Bibeault says:
Nov-17-2012 12:02 am

Obamacare will be a complete disaster just like everything else Government does. They can't even get water to people in N.Y. and N.J. after tropical storm Sandy (imagine if it was a CAT 3 Hurricaine). The House Republicans can still block it's implimentation by not funding it. We really don't need 73,000 new IRS agents to enforce it.

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