The holiday shopping season is here. Beginning this weekend, shoppers across the world will engage in a frenzy during the biggest sales season of the year. Last year, online shoppers in the US spent $138.6 billion online, with sales throughout all channels reaching a record $722 billion according to reports.

For 2020, Deloitte predicts that holiday e-commerce sales will increase by 25% to 35% from November through January, reaching $182 billion to $196 billion. This growth is being fueled by the COVID-19 pandemic, which has forced consumers to shop online increasingly, a trend analysts forecast will be long-term.

Although holiday sales are expected to grow at a slower pace (1% – 1.5% compared to 4.1% in 2019), due to Coronavirus, holiday shoppers are excited nonetheless. In fact, 64% of US consumers are as excited about the holiday season as they were in 2019. Furthermore, 75% of consumers are planning to do up to 50% of their holiday shopping online.


The big question is, how prepared are you to meet or exceed customer expectations this holiday season?

There’s a lot you can do, but according to ClickFox, 62% of shoppers believe that the brands they’re most loyal to aren’t doing enough for them.

At this point, retailers might wonder “what do customers really want?” 

In this post, we shall x-ray key areas of online shopper behaviour and how you can optimize your processes to deliver unforgettable shopping experiences to your teeming customers this holiday season.

Specifically, we shall highlight ten (10) key things that online shoppers want the most from retailers throughout the entire order management process.

Following are

10 Things Online Shoppers Really Want This Holiday Season

1. Fast Loading Sites

Because online shopping occurs online, everything rises and falls on your e-commerce website.

Your website loading speed is the very first impression that visitors to your store will form about your brand. It is a measure of how fast your web pages load. 

How important is website loading speed to your online business?

Google recommends load time of half a second, and it’s ranking algorithms favour faster loading sites. 

Similarly, 67% of UK consumers say they abandon purchases due to slow site loading speed. In fact, experience shows that a 2-second delay in site loading speed resulted in 87% abandonment rate.

47% of consumers expect a site to load within two seconds or less, or they start to bounce and look elsewhere. Also, 52% of online shoppers cite fast page loading speed as key to their site loyalty.

The infographic below sums it up. 

2. Fast Checkout

Sign-up/sign-in and checkout on some e-commerce websites is a time suck. A slow loading site with countless steps to checkout is a no-no for online shoppers this season.

In 2016 Baymard Institute reported that 1 out of 4 US online shoppers (27%) had abandoned an order in the last quarter due to a “too long or complicated checkout process.”

The chart below shows a funnel based checkout analysis of 1,000 customers conducted by Clear Program between November and December 2012.

On a similar note, Formisimo (now Ziko) as shown below, increased conversion rate by 55% over two months by making small changes to its sign-up form.

LHS: Form             RHS: Performance

After rewriting headlines, removing repeat password field and redesigning the “register” button, their conversion rate improved by 56.3%.

3. Responsive Websites

In 2017, Webperformancetoday reported that for every $7 of mobile-generated revenue, $5.5 (79%) was generated by mobile shoppers using the full site. $1 (14%) came via m.site, and $0.5 (7%) via mobile app.                                                                                                                           

Wolfgang Digital reviewed over 60 million website sessions and found that mobile (phones+tablets) accounted for 59% of sessions by device and 38% of e-commerce revenue by the device. 

Although most shoppers browse on a mobile and buy on desktop, more and more online shoppers are buying on mobile. By 2021, experts believe that US mobile commerce sales will cross $420 billion.

A responsive website will render correctly on any device, be it a smartphone, tablet or desktop, providing an omnichannel experience that allows shoppers to access and purchase from you anywhere, any time, on any device.

4. User Experience (UX)

Businesses are re-thinking and redesigning their products and services with a more customer-centric focus. UX design principles apply to online retailers and can help to provide world-class shopping experiences for buyers.

As e-commerce increasingly becomes a buyer’s market, customers acquire more power and usability is a top priority. Your competitor is one click away from telling your prospects “don’t sweat it, and we’re cooler.”

A while ago I shopped for a washing machine online at Konga, but after reading excellent product reviews, I couldn’t find the almighty “buy” button for nearly four minutes. I was leaving when I saw it covered by “upgrade app” button. That was a UX problem.

I’m not alone.  JD Power (2016) reports that 71% of web shoppers who perceive a retailer website as less complicated are more likely to consider the same retailer for other purchases.

5. Right Size

When it comes to buying fashion online, size matters, according to data released by IHL Group, returns citing sizing as reason, cost retailers $62.4b in 2015, accounting for 9.70% of global returns.  A couple of weeks ago, I returned a Taylor Wright jacket I saw and likes; reason- it was oversize.

In many cases, size guides don’t guide shoppers to the right size. According to Verdict Consulting (for Kelkoo), two-thirds of online shoppers resort to buying multiple sizes to find the right fit. This practice, known as bracketing, costs retailers billions of dollars in reverse logistics.

Platform next to Shopify Plus and Magento Enterprise under 3dcart Enterprise now employ augmented reality to help shoppers virtually situate or try on items before they purchase. This helps to provide an immersive shopping experience as well as reduce return rates, and increase ROI.

6. Honest Product Reviews

Bazaarvoice and Conversation Index, Q2 2011 report that site visitors who interact with both reviews and customer questions are 105% more likely to purchase while visiting and spend 11% more than customers who don’t.

According to Bright Local, 88% of consumers trust online reviews as much as a personal recommendation.  I personally don’t buy new products or known products from new brands without reading several customer reviews.

Rented reviews ruin your reputation with shoppers whose lie detectors can spot one ten miles away. Capterra reports that 52% of buyers trust a product more if they see a few bad reviews.

This holiday season, ensure that you have sufficient product reviews on your e-commerce website to help customers make more informed buying decisions.

7. Free Shipping

According to Walker Sand’s Future of Retail 2016 study, 9 out of 10 customers say free shipping is the number one incentive to shop online more. 

Retailers can encourage customers to shop more by setting a minimum basket size to qualify for free or reduced shipping. Some customers prefer to pay more for a product and get free shipping instead.

FreeShipping.com promises members 10% cashback, 20% seasonal cashback, free shipping, and free return shipping at over 1,000 leading retailers. 

8. Smooth Payments

Shoppers who’ve reached your payment page are likely in buy mode. Getting them to pay is perhaps your biggest goal, but don’t make it a big deal. Payment should be a breeze, not a hassle. Make sure your payment page layout doesn’t hide some charges.

According to the Baymard Institute, 24% of shoppers (1 out of 5) abandoned a purchase because costs were not displayed upfront.  Include an option to estimate shipping/delivery fees by Area/Postal Code from the onset.                                             

A 2013 research by Cambridge’s E4X reports that 86% of UK shoppers are averse to USD-only pricing, 65% of whom leave to check conversion rates elsewhere, and may never return.

9. Expedited Shipping/Delivery

Order fulfilment is another important leg of customer experience. Gift or time-bound purchases that arrive behind schedule are no good. Who wants a New Year’s gift on Valentine’s Day?

According to Walker Sands study, 69% of shoppers cite one-day delivery as an incentive to buy more, 79% will likely choose drones if they’ll get their purchases within the hour and 80% of most frequent buyers are more likely to patronize retailers if they offer drone delivery.

Order splitting puts off many shoppers; imagine climbing down a flight of stairs severally to take delivery because your order was split into three.

One more thing customers want more than or in addition to free shipping is the ability to track orders in real-time from shopping through shipping to delivery, and that for free too.

10. Free Returns/Refunds

If nothing is free, then online shoppers want nothing. 81% of them say they will do repeat incremental business with brands that offer free, no-questions-asked, hassle-free, return.

To prove this, AMA reports that brands that offered this kind of returns recorded increased patronage of up to 457%. Zappos CEO also affirms that their highest returners are among their biggest patrons.

These are ten key things online shoppers want retailers to implement this holiday season. It’s a win-win and an absolute no-brainer.