by Editorial Team
November 22, 2018

The results are in! Our recently published International Holiday Shopping Report provides some exclusive insights about international shopping behavior.

By surveying more than 3000 consumers in seven key markets across a broad spectrum of demographics, we’re able to reveal unique insights into what matters most to shoppers.

The results show which holiday shopping events are quickly rising in prominence and which are waning, reveals the most popular shopping channels, and highlights just what consumers want to see from their future shopping experiences. And last but not least, they show the key role that the combination of digital and physical channels plays for consumers worldwide: The life of the consumers surveyed is “omnichannel”, which is why they naturally demand good channel integration from retailers, whether they are stationary merchants or online shops via websites, mobile sites or apps.

Read on and find out just what it takes for retailers to make consumers fill up their – virtual or physical – shopping basket and to successfully check out in their – physical or online – shop!

To discover more results from the survey, get the the Wirecard International Holiday Shopping Report here for free!

1. What are customers looking for – which factors lead to the purchase decision?

Every nation has its own unique cultures and behaviors, its own unique attitudes towards shopping. We looked at seven countries, each one important in global commerce for different reasons: USA, Germany, UK, Singapore, Malaysia, Brazil and Hong Kong.

By casting our gaze across many different parts of the globe, we’re able to see interesting differences in each region – but also many striking similarities.

For e-commerce players and brick-and-mortar retailers alike, one of the most revealing questions asked respondents what they find important from online and mobile shopping portals. A central finding is that the main purchase criteria for shopping in-store and online are the same:

  • Price was the number one priority, with more than half of respondents noting it in their ‘top 3 most important factors’
  • This was followed by the quality of products
  • Special offers and seasonal discounts came in at number 3
  • This was followed by the likes of brand affinity, the ability to easily return items and get refunds, shipping time, and the flexibility to pay with the currency of one’s choice or use local currency.

From a retailer’s perspective, it’s fascinating to see how online and in-store shopping is blurring international lines.

2. Omnichannel is a matter of course – four out of five embrace a multitude of channels

Here’s one where many retailers have been itching to see the results … on what channels do consumers prefer to shop?

The astonishing ascent of mobile continues to gather pace, with more than four in ten consumers opting to use either a mobile app or a mobile site to make their purchases. Mobile now firmly defeats desktop, which is used by 28% of holiday season shoppers overall, but remains stronger in the European countries (Germany and the UK in our survey). Following that comes the bricks-and-mortar retailers.

But actually it isn’t at all a case of ‘channel versus channel’ … in fact, 82% of consumers are either somewhat likely or very likely, to combine different channels during their shopping process!

If there is one stand-out finding from this year’s survey, it would be this: nearly all shoppers see the value and use different channels as a matter of course as they meander through the process of discovering, researching, comparing, buying, reviewing, paying and receiving their products.

While 75% of the British, 77% of the Germans and 79% of the Americans affirmed this statement, the figures on other continents were even higher: 86% in Singapore, 90% in Hong Kong and 92% in Brazil. The Malaysians, however, took the top position among all the countries surveyed – an impressive 96% said they were likely or very likely to combine several channels when shopping!

To better understand the desire for omnichannel experiences, we went on to ask about the main reasons for combining channels. Over half of our respondents said it is to compare prices, with 18% saying it is to compare similar product offerings. Others said it was to test products before buying, to avoid shipping costs, to get their products faster, or to hunt for discounts.

3. Among festivals and extravaganzas, Black Friday still has the broadest appeal

If we look at global relevance, Black Friday is the undisputed star of global commerce, and this day has become an international phenomenon. In fact, across all the seven major countries we surveyed, almost four in ten respondents said that it’s on this day that they plan to spend the most!

In Brazil, for example, an incredible 67% of respondents planned to open their wallets this Black Friday, in a frenzy of shopping activity for the large South American nation – in this blog article you find more background knowledge about this phenomenon.

Cyber Monday, which follows on the other side of the weekend just after Black Friday, with a higher-emphasis on e-commerce, is also rapidly growing in appeal. In fact, 11% of those surveyed will spend more on Cyber-Monday than any other holiday.

The Advent season has a loyal following in the likes of the UK, Germany and Brazil, though it’s less familiar in the world’s biggest economy: the USA.

However, though Black Friday has the widest global appeal overall,  in the East it’s eclipsed by its lesser-known rival: China’s so-called ‘11:11 Shopping Festival, also known as ‘Singles’ Day’ is the Asian dragon of e-commerce that’s certainly spreading its wings into new territories.

Our respondents in Singapore, Malaysia and Hong Kong planned to participate in this event. Due to its absolute dominance in China, 11:11 actually sees more than double the sales of Black Friday and Cyber Monday combined! You can discover more about the incredible story of 11:11 on another of our Wirecard blog posts.

4. Special events are the time people try something new

In general, we’re creatures of habit, and it’s true that once we’ve found a shop or website that we like, we often tend to keep going back there. There are a number of reasons for this… in the online realm one of the biggest reasons is our hesitancy to enter our credit card details into unfamiliar locations.

But for newcomers in every region looking to win over new customers, holidays represent the biggest opportunities. Lured in by irresistible deals, it’s on these days that we’re more willing to try something new, to give a new service provider a chance.

More than half of respondents said that they are somewhat likely to buy from a new store or try a new brand during holiday season shopping, and almost a third said that they are very likely to do so – which sums up to an overwhelming 77%.

While major global e-commerce players consolidate their power, this is encouraging news for smaller niche and regional players, offering extra special magic and a highly personalized touch! 

5. Mobile payment adds most value to a consumer’s shopping experience

On the topic of ‘something new’ one of our most interesting questions in this year’s survey asked which technology innovation would most improve the buying experience.

There was a clear winner: Mobile payments was selected as one of the top 2 options by almost half of our respondents (46%).

This means: Accepting mobile payment is an absolute must for merchants, with the trend showing no signs of slowing down.

Virtual and augmented reality services (such as being able to virtually “try on” an item of clothing) came in second, followed by artificial intelligence.

6. Only one in five remain completely immune to the frenzy

And finally, one last stat from this year’s survey: 19% of consumers plan to skip the next major shopping holiday entirely.

These individuals won’t be seen queuing at the malls, or clicking on those tempting festive season emailers. They won’t be compulsively swiping through apps to unveil the next irresistible discount, or anxiously waiting for their deliveries to arrive!

However, for the vast majority of consumers, holiday shopping plays an important role, so retailers are well advised to use them as sales boosters in the best possible way with attractive offers and the right customer approach. For consumers worldwide, the major shopping events seem to just get bigger and better.

And there are more questions and interesting answers to them:

  • What are the distinctive characteristics in the individual countries surveyed?
  • And which product categories are most frequently purchased?
  • How do retailers manage to persuade consumers to buy again after shopping events, i.e. turn holiday shoppers into return customers?
  • Which technologies and tools help retailers to offer their customers an outstanding shopping experience?

Find out more in our International Holiday Shopping Report. For physical and online retailers, and others interested in diving into more detail, you can download it here for free.