Recent research has predicted that this year’s online Christmas shopping is to reach a record £7.75bn ($12.3bn) over five weeks. That consumers are spending so much online isn’t surprising. Not only are they escaping the crush of people fighting for last minute bargains on the high-street, but the online user experience has become a richer and more interactive journey. As we enter the age of the “internet of things” when almost any device or surface can have an internet connection and video can be displayed almost anywhere, how will our Christmas experiences change?
The report by IMRG Capgemini “forecast that online sales will be up 14% year-on-year for the five weeks from November 28, with nearly half the amount expected to be spent in the first two weeks.” It also claims that mobile will become a more popular way of shopping and Chris Webster, vice president of head of retail and consumer products at Capgemini said the amount spent via online shopping was due to “both need and convenience.” That consumers “hunt down the best bargains online to get the most out of our Christmas budget, but also because we can, easily and conveniently.”
New devices and platforms such as mobiles are increasingly driving on-the-go shopping (79% of smartphone owners use their devices to aid in shopping and 74% make a purchase according to Google in April 2011), and means the shopping experience has become a multichannel journey. Online video has played a significant role in this as retailers like ASOS, net-a-porter and Marks & Spencer have used video to enhance the customer’s experience. From how-to videos with instructional demos on how to apply make-up or tie a bow-tie, to product videos that show how clothing moves and feels on the model. Static images have never been able to showcase the detail and quality that video can.
But times are changing. Cisco has claimed that by 2015, 1 million of minutes of video will cross the internet every second and by 2020 there will be 50bn connected devices in homes around the world. So how will consumers interact with this new internet? And how will the Christmas shopping experience change?
This year brands such as M&S, John Lewis, Morrisons and Boots have created Christmas campaigns full of beautifully wrapped presents, celebrities and delicious food. While nowadays customers enjoy these campaigns, take note of the products on their Christmas list or browse via tablet, laptop or smartphone, the connected TV could create a very ubiquitous Christmas in the future. It has the ability to connect a broadcaster’s audience to a brands product page, embed social media conversations around a recipe and allow you to play a game-show that rewards you with QR code discount vouchers – all from the comfort of one screen.
It’s not surprising to see such a high figure from the Capgemini report, but it will be interesting to see how connected TVs enhance the online shopping journey. Much has yet to be decided when it comes to content on connected TVs; how will audiences navigate around the content? How will they find it? How will they make purchases? While these questions create uncertainty for the TV ad industry, it should create a sigh of relief for customers around the country fighting Christmas crowds on the high street.
By Chris Gorell Barnes, chief executive, Adjust Your Set