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Amazon Set to Absorb Half of All Holiday Business in 2019, Report Says

According to a new Episerver global report, Amazon is expected to take up more than half of all gift sales for Holiday 2019, presenting a toughbut not impossiblechallenge for any retailer that hopes to compete for market share.

The Episerver survey, “Holiday Online Shopping Trends 2019: Retailers Win with Customer Centricity,” asked 4,500 shoppers from around the world about their gift-buying preferences, revealing a heavy bias for Amazon as 42 percent of all surveyed said they would be buying “all or most” of their gifts from the retailer. Still, Episerver, self-described as a “customer-centric digital experience company,” said that still leaves another 47 percent who will buy “none or few” of their gifts from Amazon.

“It’s no secret Amazon is a leader in digital commerce, and its popularity continues to grow,” Ed Kennedy, senior director of commerce at Episerver, said in a statement. “Despite priding itself on customer-obsession, Amazon still lacks in areas like product education, inspirational content and fanatical customer service. There’s incredible opportunity for retailers to differentiate by providing customer-centric digital experiences that mirror face-to-face interactions through gift-giving suggestions, personalized messaging and a human approach to the holidays.”

That “human approach” starts during the search process, Episerver’s report explained, especially for apparel retailers. More than any other product category, apparel shoppers start their search directly on a retailer’s website. Of that group, 43 percent turn to a specific retailer first, while 30 percent start with Amazon and 29 percent begin with Google.

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According to the report, retailers should capitalize on the gap Amazon has left when it comes to the site’s actual shopping experience.

“Amazon prides itself on customer obsession but when it comes to product education, inspirational content, how-to guides and fanatical customer service, they come up short,” the report noted. “Make sure your customer service team is dialed-in to serve and content teams are pumping out useful holiday guides for their websitestactics Amazon won’t invest in.”

And Amazon can’t compete with consumers’ ongoing craving to check out product in store first. According to Episerver, as much as 25 percent of those surveyed still said in-store visits are necessary before an apparel purchase online. But since many will still be buying online, investments in a well-made, experience driven website, won’t be wasted.

Retailers should focus on optimizing site search functions by adding more synonyms to the site’s database, adding redirects for common non-product searches (like returns and store locations), pumping up popular items in the catalog and adding product recommendations to “no-search-result” pages.

“A customer-centric approach ensures shoppers are confident with purchasing items online (their preferred way to shop this holiday season) by using technology to show how an item will fit them (apparel) or fit their lives (furniture),” Episerver said in the report. “Still, some customers prefer a mixed approach to shopping between in-store and online—making click-and-collect expectations the norm with a third (31 percent) of online shoppers expecting the ability to buy online and pick up in-store.”