happy savvy shoppersTom Beecher, President and CEO of Cartera Commerce – a leading provider of omni-channel marketing solutions that increase revenue and customer loyalty for merchants − believes that consumers are savvier now than ever before, and gauge purchases not only by price, but also by the overall customer experience.

Last month, Cartera Commerce released a study that indicates the ease of ecommerce and availability of discount sites has led to more consumers expecting a better deal this holiday season that may or may not result in brand loyalty.

Surprises?

“Overall, I was somewhat surprised by the savviness of the shoppers we talked to,” Beecher told Loyalty360. “They are all really aware of their ability to get a great deal. They were savvier than I expected. They don’t just care about price. They care about the quality of the product, the overall customer experience, and reputation of the brand continues to matter a lothappy savvy shoppers in loyalty.”

Cartera’s study, The 2014 Consumer Spending and Deal-Seeking Behaviors, shows that consumers are no longer willing to pay full price for online purchases. In fact, 81% of survey respondents said the accessibility of discount, deals, and coupon sites have affected their willingness to pay full price. What’s more, 35% said they never pay full price for items online.

In addition, the research shows consumers expect to spend less than $499 this holiday season. The research also suggests rewards program members are highly engaged deal seekers as 87% of respondents who participate in these programs redeem rewards for points, cashback, and miles. Consumers find rewards programs tied to immediate cash savings or discounts of the most value.

“I can’t think of any time where retail overall has been more competitive in-store and online,” Beecher said. “There are lots of opportunities for retailers who are smart about how they market.”

Retailers can differentiate on service, and can extend better offers to their best customers or to new cutomers, Beecher noted.

“While price matters a lot to consumers, constantly focusing on it puts a lot of pressure on the brands,” Beecher said. “Instead, focusing on the overall experience, service and quality is a great way to build long term loyalty.”

Beecher views brands getting their respective value props out there as a key challenge.

“For many, it’s about understanding a particular segment value,” he explained. “Banks have become more sophisticated marketers over time, but it’s probably still a process for them. Real interest in real loyalty from a particular segment takes time.”

Beecher believes customer loyalty has evolved and pointed to the proliferation of loyalty programs.

“It may be less about a loyalty program, but more about driving customer loyalty by delivering real value to your consumers,” he said.

Here are some other takeaways from the study:

Aside from convenience, respondents said the top reason they shop online is for “better deals and discounts” (52%); the second most selected response was “easier to compare prices” (41%), followed by “larger selection/inventory” (36%)

Consumers look to a variety of sites to find the best deals, citing store/brand websites (52%), search engines (39%), and searchable deals, cashback and discount sites (38%) as the top three sources

89% of respondents said if they knew they could find almost all of the discounted products they need and want on one website, they’d shop on that site more frequently

Beecher said airline miles remain a popular reward of choice for many consumers. In fact, Cartera Commerce’s shoppers have earned a total of 15.2 billion miles to date – about 608,000 free roundtrip flights. Based on an uptick in rewards-hungry online shoppers and the company’s success to date, Cartera Commerce aims to provide 20 billion miles by 2016.

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