This holiday season — more than any other in recent history — should separate the wheat from the chaff.
Why? Shoppers are using social media and other platforms to learn more about retailers, and it could make a big difference. Like Santa, consumers now know whether retailers have a reputation for being “naughty or nice.”
It’s supposed to be a boffo year for holiday shopping, according to a post at The Tennessean. It cites a National Retail Federation (NRF) report showing a potential 4.1 percent increase in retail sales in November and December. That would constitute $ 616.9 billion in holiday sales — a better showing that holiday 2013. Similarly, Deloitte is projecting a similar increase in spending somewhere between 4 and 4.5 percent.
“If our estimates are correct, it will be the best it’s been in a decade,” said Matthew Shay, president and CEO of the NRF.
But retailers, beware.
More than ever before, social media conversations about a store or brand are impacting consumer choices.
Consumers will arrive at mobile sites or stores armed with a wide array of data says Media Post editor Jack Loechner.
“With greater access to information and news, heightened awareness of economic and geo-political matters, and, most important, the experiences of other individuals communicated via online communities and social networks, consumers are more discerning about the companies they do business with,” Loechner said.
According to the Society for New Communications Research (SNCR), seven in 10 people now visit social media sites to conduct buying research. That’s a huge opportunity — for both good and bad.
What do consumers want?
For starters, says the SNCR, fully half of shoppers want to trust the company from which they buy. Positive online ratings by prior customers mean a lot, too — 43 percent consumers are paying attention to them.
Most strikingly, customer care outranks reward programs. Consumers want service when it comes to delivery promises, returns ease, and response time more than they want to rack up points for future purchases.
And who does most of the holiday shopping for packages that will appear under the tree? Women, who are twice as likely as men to be tuned into social channels helping them finalize purchasing decisions.
“The reputation of a company is no longer defined by what they report or what they say they stand for. Increasingly, they are defined by the shared opinions and experiences of socially connected consumers,” said SNCR researchers Vanessa DiMauro and Don Bulmer.