Aussie shoppers head online for Christmas

New study finds three-quarters of consumers are planning to use ecommerce in the lead-up to Christmas, but just as many also admit to frustrations with the online shopping experience

Three-quarters of Australian consumers are planning to do the majority of their Christmas shopping online, but with 70 per cent experiencing frustrations last year the pressure is on retailers to ensure their ecommerce platforms are up to scratch.

That’s the top-line finding of a new study conducted by Pure Profile for cloud vendor, Rackspace Hosting, based on surveys of 1000 Australian consumers online in October. The research group found 74 per cent of respondents plan to do some or most of their Christmas shopping online. Fifty-two per cent plan to shop at home in the evenings, and 53 per cent intend to send season’s greetings on Christmas day via social media channels.

Items being purchased on include gifts (59 per cent), drinks (11 per cent), and travel tickets to see family and friends (17 per cent).

In terms of devices, 13 per cent will be shopping online using a tablet, up 7 per cent year-on-year. Smartphone usage is also up the same percentage to 11 per cent this year.

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However retailers have some way to go to ensure the online shopping experience meets expectations, the study found. Nearly 70 per cent of shoppers said they experienced online frustrations last Christmas, and more than 40 per cent either abandoned their purchase completely or tried a different website because of these issues.

“The results from this study suggest strongly that all businesses with an online presence – not just retailers – must be more prepared than ever before for the Christmas rush,” Rackpace Australia director and general manager, Angus Dorney, said.

Managing director of ecommerce software vendor and Rackspace customer, Intershop APAC Albert Woo, commented that many of the frustrations cited by respondents can be easily foreseen and that retailers should be planning and testing in advance for any traffic spikes.

“It is extremely important to provide the best user experience to your end customers,” he said. “To deliver on the core essentials and to back that with a top shelf customer care unit could be the difference between success and failure.

“Not planning for the festive crowds is a missed opportunity when you consider how much business can be lost simply because you didn’t take the time to test your site and provide a great online customer experience.”

Rackspace recommended retailers check and test capacity by undertaking a full audit of their Web hosting environment, as well as load test websites. Also key is ensuring support during peak traffic times, as well as ongoing performance reviews of the site.

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