As retailers approach the homestretch of the 2010 holiday shopping season, we thought it would be useful to share some insights from consumers about their Web buying activity. Forrester and Bizrate Insights teamed up in late November/early December to survey online customers, and here are a few of the findings:

  • Free shipping with a threshold is most popular (though people would, naturally, prefer to have no threshold). One interesting fact is that the threshold (in addition to adding units to transactions) attracts higher-income shoppers. Households with incomes over $150k are nearly twice as likely to use “free shipping with a threshold” than households with incomes less than $40k.  
  • 9% of shoppers say they belong to some shipping club (e.g. Amazon Prime, ShopRunner) and participation skews up with income. 13% of households with incomes over $150k say they have this type of membership.
  • Email still rules. From our Cyber Monday research with Bizrate Insights, 43% of consumers who shopped online on that day found out about deals through email. This was by far the most popular way that people found out about deals, greater than search, Facebook, or even word of mouth.  The second biggest source of finding out about deals was a retailer’s own site. 
  • It’s about women and gifts during the online shopping season. Again from our Cyber Monday research with Bizrate Insights, 69% of online shoppers were women. Only about half of men purchased gifts for others that day, but 78% of women purchased gifts that day. 

So, what’s this all mean for Web retailers moving forward this holiday season?

  • Keep up the good work with home page notices and emails — most customers find out about shipping promotions or deals one of these two ways.
  • Expect to see shipping clubs become a more popular offering with retailers in 2011.
  • If you can’t segment your database to offer specific deals or you just want to catch the most birds with one stone, then go with free shipping; that said, many customers also do like dollars off or percent off, so that is another option if free shipping isn’t an option for any reason.
  • Women are the gift buyers. Men buy gifts, but are almost as equally interested in buying for themselves. Think of marketing gift-buying to women and “time to buy that X that you have always dreamed of” to men.

Perhaps the most exciting part of this, at least for retailers (maybe not the frazzled parents), is that there’s more fun to be had. Internet Retailer predicts that December 13th or 14th will be the peak of the madness.  Retailers should plan the basics in preparation for this wave: Make sure the shelves are full, the Web sites are up, and the shipping is free.

Also, a plug for our friends at Bizrate Insights who generously worked with us to pull this information together: Bookmark their blog for some great posts with other useful datapoints at