As the countdown to Christmas begins, new research shows that online shopping is on the up - although many may be disappointed as shoppers fail to make alternative arrangements for gifts that don’t arrive on time.
New research polling UK shoppers on their plans for Christmas gift buying shows that there is a growing appetite for online commerce, with spending set to increase. Habits however – such as leaving it to the last minute – endure, whether shopping online or on the high street. New research released this week by SaaS shipping, tracking and systems integration platform provider NetDespatch, provides a compelling snapshot of the Christmas gift-buying season to come.
“As ecommerce continues to expand, all sectors of the market need to better understand both consumer buying behaviour and delivery expectations,” said Becky Clark, CEO, NetDespatch. “Our research shows that the habits and expectations of UK shoppers are changing. Interestingly, the younger generation appears to be most organised with a quarter planning to start shopping as early as September. However, over a quarter of overall respondents said they intend to leave their shopping until as late as November and over one fifth don’t intend to start until December. Disappointment may be on the cards this Christmas if goods don’t arrive on time.”
● Internet shopping reigns – 88% of respondents are using the Internet for Christmas purchases
● Hey big spender – 33% of respondents spent anywhere between £151 up to £500 on online shopping last Christmas and 37% expect to spend more this Christmas
● Home rather than work – Over 85% of people who shop online would prefer home delivery, yet 75% work full time and 25% say missing a delivery is the most irritating thing about online shopping
● Young people are more organised – 26% of 16-24 year olds plan to start Christmas shopping as early as September
● Irritated consumers – The top three things that irritate consumers most about online shopping are: shipping costs (27%), missing a delivery (25%) and returning an item (14%)
● Trust thy neighbour – Over two fifths (43%) stated that if they are not at home they would like their item to be left with the neighbour
● A nation of book worms – Books are the most commonly purchased products (48%) followed by toys (40%) and technology (37%)
● Prepare to be disappointed – Over a quarter (26%) of those surveyed who shop online said they wouldn’t make alternative arrangements for Christmas gifts that don’t arrive on time
Main report findings:
When will we start our Christmas shopping?
Over a quarter (28%) intend to leave Christmas shopping to as late as November with just over one fifth (21%) intending to start in December. 9% of made adults don’t start shopping until the week before Christmas Eve. Women however start early with nearly half (47%) stating that they intend to get shopping by September or October.
Surprisingly, nearly one quarter (24%) of the 55+ age group aren’t planning to start Christmas shopping until early December. Also, the 16-24 year old age group appear to be the most organised with a quarter (26%) shopping as early as December.
Will we stick to our intentions?
Just over three quarters of those surveyed were adamant that they will stick to their intentions (76%), with an additional 12% admitting that this could slip – but only as much as one week. In total, 88% of shoppers are pretty convinced that they will do what they say they will do.
How much will we spend?
Last Christmas over a quarter of those surveyed (26%) spent at least £76-£150 online. One third (33%) spent anywhere between £151 and £500.
Men are slightly less inclined to go online than women with 16.5% doing no shopping online last year versus 13% of women. But when men do go online they tend to be bigger shoppers with 1% spending more than £500 versus 0.7% of women.
How will spending compare to last year?
Nearly half of those surveyed (46%) are expending to spend the same amount online this year as last year. Over one third (37%) however are expecting to spend more. As little as 6% are expecting to spend less and around 12% are not expecting to buy anything online this year.
How much do we return?
Nearly two thirds of those surveyed are satisfied with their purchases and don’t return items at all (63%). Men are slightly less inclined to send purchases back than women (64% versus 61%) and the 55+ group are slightly less likely to send items back (68%) versus the 16-24 year olds (51%). Nearly half of the 16-24 year old category who shop online always send something back.
Where do we want orders delivered?
Surprisingly, 85% of online shoppers still want items to be delivered to their home even though 75% of those who state this work full time. Therefore it’s not entirely a surprise that 25% of those online shoppers cite missing a delivery as a key irritant of lone shopping – they’re not there to receive it!
What irritates us most when ordering online?
Shipping costs (26%), missing a delivery (25%), and having to return an item (14%) irritate people most when ordering online. Females get more irritated by shipping costs than men (29% versus 23%). Having to return an item or finding that something is out of stock also irritates women more than men (7% versus 5%).
Where do we want deliveries left if we are not in to receive it?
If we are not home to receive an item nearly half (43%) would like that item to be left with a neighbour and 28% would be happy for it to be left in a safe location. Returning the good to the depot is the least popular option (5%).
Men are happier for their parcels to be left with a neighbour than women (47% versus 41%) and women are more comfortable leaving their parcels in a safe location (31% versus 25%). The 55+ category are the most happy for their parcels to be left with a neighbour – 46% voted for this option whereas 16-24 year olds are the most likely age group to like the parcel be left in a safe location (38%).
When would we make alternative arrangement for a gift that hasn’t arrived?
26% don’t make alternative arrangements for Christmas gifts that haven’t arrived. Nearly one quarter would leave it to the week of 2nd – 8th December to make alternative arrangements, and 30% of men would not make alternative arrangements at all versus 24% of women.
What will we be buying online this Christmas?
Books were cited as the most commonly purchased products (48%), followed by toys (40%) and then technology (37%).
Women are buying books (50%), toys (43%) and fashion (42%). Men are buying technology (46%), books (44%) and toys (36%).
The study also found that 16-24 year olds are buying a high proportion of fashion items online (59%) as well as a surprising amount of cosmetics (39%).
“We know that online shopping provides a huge opportunity for retailers, but in order for consumers to remain happy with their online experiences, the order, despatch and delivery mechanisms have to be efficient, which is not always easy or straightforward,” said Clark, CEO, NetDespatch. “At NetDespatch, we optimise ecommerce and delivery processes, delivering efficiency improvements and savings to everyone in the supply chain from consumer to retailer through carrier to final delivery.”
The study was carried out by independent research firm Opinion Matters between 4th August and 15th August 2014 and sampled 2,000 UK adults who buy Christmas presents.