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New Report from ShipStation Suggests Holiday Purchases Through Online Marketplaces Could Reach $253 Billion Globally

Research also finds that consumers plan to shop earlier and reprioritize premium delivery experiences this year

ShipStation, the leading cloud-based ecommerce shipping solution, today released a report based on findings from a global consumer and merchant study conducted by Auctane, the parent brand of ShipStation, and Retail Economics, an independent economics research consultancy. The Holiday Shopping Trends Report 2023: Building a Risk-Resistant Ecommerce Strategy compiles insight from 8,000 consumers and 2,000 merchants around the globe and investigates both perspectives of online shopping this holiday season.

ShipStation’s research found that shoppers globally are still hesitant to spend. However, the report identifies three areas of opportunity for merchants – including capitalizing on “early bird” shoppers, selling on online marketplaces, and balancing premium delivery offerings with delivery costs.

“Our research reaffirms that consumers’ expectations for the brands they shop with rise and evolve during the holiday season,” said Al Ko, CEO of Auctane, parent brand of ShipStation. “This year, we anticipate that consumers will be more mindful, earlier spenders, do the majority of their holiday shopping online, and request faster, more reliable shipping experiences that align with critical seasonal deadlines. Merchants have an opportunity to cultivate customer loyalty by promoting holiday deals earlier, selling their products on more online channels, and offering a wider variety of premium shipping options.”

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Key findings include:

The Consumer Spend Index: United States Shows Economic Promise, “Early-Bird Shoppers” Will Rise

ShipStation’s report reveals that three in four consumers surveyed globally plan to decrease their spending over the holiday season, up from 58% last year. However, shoppers in the U.S. are the most likely to spend, with two thirds of shoppers surveyed planning to either spend the same (44%) or more (22%) than they did last year.

The research shows a link between consumers’ intention to cut back and their inclination to shop early, with 41% of surveyed U.S. holiday shoppers reporting that they will begin their holiday shopping before October. ShipStation recommends merchants use this shift as an opportunity to get strategic with holiday promotions. One in four surveyed merchants already intend to increase their holiday promotion frequency this year, with the same proportion planning to launch promotions before October.

Online Marketplaces Reign as Top Holiday Shopping Channel

ShipStation’s research underscores the pivotal role online marketplaces may play this holiday season. It found that around one in every two online orders made over the holidays is expected to be through an online marketplace, and that online marketplaces are estimated to account for $253 billion* of global sales during the holidays, with North America expected to account for the majority of this spend ($183 billion). Merchants are encouraged to harness the power of online marketplaces to connect with larger customer bases, expand their product offerings, and boost exposure.

Delivery Experiences Will Be Reprioritized

While the cost of delivery remains a significant priority, ShipStation’s research finds that its influence among consumers has tempered ahead of the holidays. Globally, surveyed consumers have an increased interest in delivery speed, parcel visibility, and flexible returns, while interest in delivery costs have decreased – creating a holiday “sweet spot” between lower shipping costs and premium delivery experiences. When it comes to the consumer standard for a “fast delivery,” half of surveyed shoppers expect an online purchase to arrive within two days during the holiday season (as standard), rising to as high as 62% in the U.S. Similarly, over half of surveyed consumers report being willing to pay up to $9 extra for same-day, next-day, or scheduled delivery services during the holiday season. This holiday season, the primary delivery concerns among globally surveyed consumers include packages arriving late or when no one is available to receive them and lengthy scheduled delivery times. Meanwhile, missing or stolen parcels topped the list for U.S. respondents, spotlighting the importance of parcel insurance this holiday season.

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