Study: Consumers Expect Control, Omnichannel Experiences and Personalized Customer Service this Holiday Season

More than two-thirds of U.S. consumers expect to do their holiday shopping online this year, while 60% also anticipate hitting brick-and-mortar stores, reflecting a preference to use multiple retail channels, according to an SAP SE sponsored survey by online market research firm Dynata.

Consumers Want the Freedom to Control Their Own Brand Experiences

With the rise of digital channels and self-service options, shopping has become more complex, and consumers have increasingly taken charge of their experiences with brands. Along these lines, 92% of respondents said they want control over their experience when shopping or interacting with a brand, according to the survey of 1,000 U.S. consumers.

“Customers want to choose and influence their experiences,” said Paula Hansen, chief revenue officer of SAP Customer Experience. “They will switch a provider, business or brand if they aren’t satisfied with the experience delivered. As the holidays approach, companies must take note and listen to consumers’ needs in this unique shopping season and address them quickly in order to deliver the experience they deserve.”

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Digital Reigns Supreme, But the Physical Store Plays a Key Role in Omnichannel Engagement

At the onset of the pandemic, consumers flocked to digital channels to complete everyday purchases, and all indications point to this behavior continuing into the holiday season. In fact, 67% of consumers said that they plan to shop online, with many using mobile channels, including mobile apps (24%) and mobile websites (20%). Despite the focus on e-commerce, 60% of the respondents said they expect to do some of their holiday shopping in-person, signaling that the brick-and-mortar store is very much alive.

Omnichannel Approach Also Wanted for Customer Service

As customers prepare for an unprecedented holiday season, the top frustration they want to avoid is difficulty in finding products they want (39%). To avoid this, 20% of the respondents said that their top requirement was helpful and prompt customer service, with online chat (32%) being the preferred way of interacting with brands and phone and in-person tying for second, with 24% each. Moreover, most consumers (65%) said that they don’t care if they communicate with a human or chatbot, as long as they can get the answer they need quickly. In fact, speed was the most important factor of successful customer service interaction with brands, according to 60% of respondents.

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