Holiday digital expectations vs. reality: Consumers followed through on what survey results said they would do over Cyber Weekend

by | Dec 18, 2023 | Public Relations

New holiday-shopping survey results should serve as a reminder to brands and retailers: Consumers know how they want to engage, and it’s vital to meet their expectations for where, when and how they prefer to shop. The new research from digital experience intelligence provider Glassbox affirms that transactional truth by revealing that, with only a few exceptions, consumers shopped precisely how prior survey results showed they were planning to shop over Cyber Weekend—no second guessing, no last-minute change of plans, and no success for any merchants hoping to sway their thinking. 

The firm’s new consumer shopping survey, Digital Holiday Shopping Experiences: Expectations vs. Reality, the second in a two-part survey initiative, both conducted by Dynata, also showcases how the consumer shopping experience is evolving for digital and mobile channels with increasingly high customer expectations placed on ease of navigation, convenience and personalized shopping experiences. Part one of the survey was conducted with results released prior to Cyber Weekend to gain insights into how consumers planned to shop, while part two took place following Cyber Weekend to gauge how consumers actually did shop.

Where expectations matched reality

  • Before conducting Cyber Weekend shopping, 57 percent of consumers said they planned to shop via mobile apps—and when the weekend arrived, 63 percent actually did shop via mobile apps.
    • 80 percent of those who shopped via mobile app were satisfied with the experience.
  • 26 percent of consumers planned to shop via marketplace websites (such as Amazon.com), and 25 percent of consumers did so.
  • 17 percent of consumers planned to shop directly through brand or retail websites, and 18 percent of consumers actually did.
  • 32 percent of consumers planned to shop in-person this year, and 31 percent did so.
  • The most important factors for a good shopping experience were personalized product recommendations and flexible return policies:
    • 24 percent said personalized product recommendations were most important before shopping; 29 percent said it was most important during shopping.
    • 22 percent said flexible return policies were most important prior to shopping; 23 percent said so after shopping.

Focus on digital experience pays off for retailers

  • Only 41 percent of consumers said they were likely to engage in “pre-shopping” activities online, such as browsing items or adding them to a wish list, before the Black Friday and Cyber Weekend sales. However, retailers successfully engaged 70 percent of consumers in pre-shopping activities.
  • Prior to holiday shopping, 45 percent of consumers said they would abandon a purchase if they encountered a problem during checkout. In practice, only 23 percent of consumers abandoned purchases due to checkout issues.
  • 66 percent of consumers said that access to live customer support while shopping would be important, yet only 54 percent of consumers had to engage customer support while shopping.

Unrealized opportunities remain

  • Before Cyber Weekend, 84 percent of consumers said they would be willing to install and shop through a retailer’s mobile app if it gave them access to better pricing or sales. In reality, only 31 percent downloaded a new mobile app for better pricing or sales.
  • 31 percent of consumers expected their shopping to be influenced by TikTok, but only 13 percent actually made a purchase on TikTok during Cyber Weekend.

“The data clearly shows that customers continue to shift their holiday shopping to digital channels and have high expectations for their digital customer experience. We also see that retailers are more consistently meeting those expectations,” said Debbie Braney, SVP of global marketing at Glassbox, in a news release. “Delivering seamless digital experiences is paramount to capturing holiday shopping revenue and also to building long-term customer loyalty. Brands that reduce friction and use data to personalize experiences will turn browsers into buyers and keep customers coming back.”

Read more about the results of the pre-Cyber Weekend survey here.

Results are based on two Dynata surveys conducted in November 2023, with each survey targeting 1,000 U.S. consumers over 18 years of age. Part one of the survey was issued prior to Cyber Weekend to gain insights into how consumers planned to shop. Part two was conducted following Cyber Weekend to gauge how consumers actually did shop for the annual retail holiday.

Richard Carufel
Richard Carufel is editor of Bulldog Reporter and the Daily ’Dog, one of the web’s leading sources of PR and marketing communications news and opinions. He has been reporting on the PR and communications industry for over 17 years, and has interviewed hundreds of journalists and PR industry leaders. Reach him at richard.carufel@bulldogreporter.com; @BulldogReporter