The outlook for Christmas 2010 is digital

The predicted top ten best-selling toys for Christmas 2010 have been announced – and they’re all basically digital (whatever happened to creative play?).  The maddest of them all is Barbie Video Girl, who has a video camera lens in her necklace and playback screen embedded in her back:

It looks like we’re going to have a Digital Christmas all ways round.  Not only will we be gifting digitally themed gifts, we’ll be buying them online.  Depending on which report you read, between a quarter and half of us plan to spend more online this Christmas, reassured by good customer service experiences in Xmas 09.

According to The Centre for Retail Research and Kelkoo, the first Christmas where 50% of festive purchases are made online will be December 2015 (assuming a 24% online growth rate) or 2021 (if growth is slower at 16%).  And that doesn’t include purchases that are researched online but bought in a real, live shop.

Internet Retailing’s research suggests that a lot of this growth is going to come from late adopters to online shopping, primary the 45+ age group.  But this age group are also particularly prone to researching purchases online before buying offline.  In fact, more than 70% of them did so in Christmas 2009.

The challenge for online retailers is going to be differentiating between buyers (who are planning to purchase online) and browsers (who are researching with a view to buying offline at a later date).  For example, if you’re an offline retailer with an online presence, how do you provide an easy purchase experience for buyers while catering for browsers and directing them to store.  And how on earth do you go about tracking conversions of these online browsers into offline buyers?

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