Christmas shopping: 81% of those asked will buy at least one gift online
Christmas shopping: 81% of those asked will buy at least one gift online
A view from Catherine Hallam

Infographic: It's beginning to look a lot like eChristmas

The old days of painstakingly carving toys out of wood and gifting them to your loved ones at Christmas seem almost alien in today's gadget-driven world.

Even the notion of pounding the high street on a freezing Christmas Eve for last-minute purchases (please, no more generic smellies) is becoming less appealing when compared to an evening on the sofa with your chosen device, glass of wine in one hand and credit card in the other. 

Market research company, Verdict, predicted that the British public will spend more than £88 billion on Christmas this year, almost £2 billion more than last year.

What’s interesting is that 13 per cent of that will be through online purchases. The popularity and increased simplicity of e-commerce has undoubtedly driven this growth. It’s also allowed companies of all sizes (even the remaining wood whittlers) the opportunity to expand their customer base regardless of geographic boundaries.

Where it gets really interesting is when we measure just how many of us now buy online. An incredible 81 per cent are expected to buy at least one item online this Christmas, and 19 per cent will do all of their Christmas shopping via the internet. 

Profile of a Christmas shopper

Online Christmas shopping is now so big that there’s even a day dedicated to it – Cyber Monday. It’s the day when the vast majority of online gift shopping is done, and in 2012, transactions on that day amounted to more than £1 billion. That’s a lot of Lynx gift sets.

It’s not just retail stores, but every supermarket and increasingly, smaller grocery stores, now offer online shopping with home delivery – a feature that will no doubt come in handy in the build-up to the festive season.  Our recent research even found 30 per cent plan to buy a majority of their Christmas food and beverages online.

Even if shoppers don’t buy every item online, the internet provides great opportunity for pre-purchase research. In fact, from our analysis of campaigns across our own video platform, highlighted in the infographic below, three quarters will conduct some form of research online this year ahead of Christmas, 25 per cent of which will be on a mobile device. 

This shows just how fundamental mobile internet has become for the Christmas shopper, whether it’s a quick scan on the daily commute or comparing prices while actually in the shop. 

At IAB Engage 2013, Lisa Utzschneider, global vice-president, advertising at Amazon, pointed out two very interesting trends the e-commerce giant is seeing. The first is that people will often spend more online if they use more than one device during the purchasing process, for example researching on their mobile and completing the transaction on a tablet or laptop.

Lisa also pointed out that one in three Britons have visited a mobile shopping site in the past 30 days, highlighting that for consumers, it doesn’t matter which screen they’re using, as long as the site they’re visiting is easy to navigate and allows them to search or buy what they want easily. 

With so much money being spent online, it presents a great opportunity for advertisers, especially with ten per cent of people’s Christmas purchases being directly influenced by online ads. In fact 30 per cent of people said they were influenced by different forms of advertising during the festive period, which almost equals the 35 per cent influenced by the gift preferences of their friends and family. 

For brands, Christmas can be the make-or-break season, especially in the current economic climate. So with customers primed and ready to shop online, advertisers and publishers alike need to embrace the popularity of e-commerce.

Catherine Hallam, director, product – data strategy & analytics, Videology