Leading digital research company Nielsen claims that Australian online retailers have ramped up their advertising activities, with a 36 per cent increase in online ad impressions recorded between July and October 2009.The Nielsen data also indicates that consumer buzz relating to shopping for Christmas gifts is increasing as we approach the peak Christmas shopping days, with online discussion relating to Christmas shopping seeing a four-fold increase in the past three months in Australia.
A recent US report from Nielsen shows that shoppers actively rely on social media sites to learn about where to find the best deals, product recommendations, gift ideas and money saving tips. The report highlights opportunities for retailers have an opportunity to go beyond traditional TV and printed circulars and use social media outlets to get shoppers excited about their holiday deals. Shoppers enjoy being the first to find out about a deal and share it with their network.
“Christmas isn’t called the silly season for nothing,” says Mark Higginson, Director of Analytics, Nielsen’s online division. “Shopping centres and malls are extremely hectic and crowded at this time of year and, for many consumers, online retail channels offer an increasingly appealing opportunity to shop from the comfort of their own homes rather than battle the crowds.”
Nielsen has also revealed that, despite anecdotal evidence indicating that Australians are increasingly looking to overseas websites to make online purchases, local consumers have not made any move to change their online purchasing habits to capitalise on strong exchange rates, with the volume of traffic to major Australian, UK and US online retail sites remaining relatively unchanged between the months of July and October 2009.
“With the strengthening of the dollar, there has been speculation that Australians will be rushing to overseas retail websites to snap up cheaper products, particularly over the busy Christmas season,” notes Higginson. “What we’re seeing in our data is that this just isn’t happening, traffic to the major sites has remained the same despite the better exchange rates.”
Higginson notes, however, that local online retailers need to be cognisant of the risk of losing shoppers to cheaper overseas sites: “As Christmas approaches, it will be interesting to see where the traffic points and we will certainly be monitoring the numbers closely. While we haven’t seen anything of note to date, it’s very possible that Australian consumers are simply biding their time and waiting to see what retailers offer in the way of pre-Christmas bargains, both locally and abroad.”