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Amazon Crushing The Holiday Season

A new consumer study by digital services firm BloomReach shows that Amazon has utterly dominated the holiday selling season in online searches, shopping and sales.

According to a survey of 3,000 Americans fielded during the Thanksgiving period, 73 percent planned to buy from Amazon during the holidays, with 71 percent expecting to spend more than a quarter of their shopping budgets with the e-tailer, and 31 percent planning to leave more than half their holiday funds there.

Amazon also crushes it on search: 35 percent of respondents named it as the starting point for their gift searches; 87 percent said they will comparison shop there for specific items; and 29 percent said they don’t know what Google Shopping is.

Surprisingly, Amazon’s custom search capabilities, rather than its low prices, are the main attraction for most shoppers. Only one-third of respondents cited price as Amazon’s biggest asset, while 43 percent were won over by its ability to intuitively find or predict exactly what they want more quickly.

• Probably the top advantage that Amazon has is its resources,” said BloomReach marketing and partnerships chief Joelle Kaufman. “Amazon has massive amounts of proprietary search and consumer-purchase data to apply its significant algorithmic intelligence for personalized search.”

Beyond Amazon, the study also showed that pre-Christmas doorbusters failed to woo a good chunk of shoppers, with 32 percent believing the best deals come after Christmas, and 50 percent planning to shop for gifts after the holiday.

• Retailers have been bleeding themselves dry with deals and discounts to get consumers back, but this study and many sales reports indicate that this tactic isn’t often working,” Kaufman noted. “The price for consumers these days is time, the one thing we cannot make more of … But the good news is that consumers have provided some guidance. Consumers will buy more if you focus on omnichannel strategies, and save them time.”

Nonetheless, most consumers said they preferred to shop online this holiday season, citing speed and convenience (38 percent) and finding exactly what they want (23 percent).

But consumer expectations for site functionality are also very high, and respondents showed a considerably low tolerance for irrelevant search results, which was cited as the No. 1 frustration when shopping online, followed closely by poor product descriptions. Consequently:

• 61 percent will only try twice to search for a product on a retailer’s site before giving up;
• 56 percent expect a retail site to have relevant auto-complete search functionality; and
• 51 percent will leave a retail site if their search turns up three irrelevant results.

Sprint Giving Away Samsung TVs

It used to be that retailers gave away a soundbar or Blu-ray player with the purchase of a TV, but Sprint is turning that promotional model on its head by giving away a free Samsung TV with the purchase of a Samsung Galaxy smartphone.

Beginning Dec. 18, consumers who switch to Sprint, and current Sprint subscribers who upgrade a phone or add a new line, get a free 32-inch Samsung TV when they get an eligible Galaxy phone. The phones are the S6, S6 Edge, S6 Edge+ and Note 5. Consumers are eligible whether they lease the phone, purchase the phone at full retail, purchase it and pay in installments over two years, or sign a two-year contract for a subsidized model.

The offer is available through Dec. 24, or while supplies last, through Sprint-branded stores, online, and national retailers, Sprint said.

New subscribers also get the benefit of rate plans that, under a current promotion, will be 50 percent lower than almost all of the current postpaid-rate plans published by Verizon, AT&T and T-Mobile.

Sprint also pays switching fees up to $650 per line via an American Express Reward Card to consumers who switch and turn in their current phone.

Samsung, Apple Top Computer Dependability Rankings

Two major manufacturers stand out from the crowd in delivering the most dependable computers and tablets, while two of the biggest names in PCs earned failing grades.

That’s the conclusion of national IT support provider Rescuecom, based on its own repair records. According to the company’s Q3 Computer Reliability Report, Samsung and Apple lead the pack in providing the most trouble-free products.

“Each of these companies manufactures some of the best performing computer and mobile devices, particularly continuing to improve upon and release new models of tablets, laptops, and two-in-one devices,” the company said.

At the other end of the spectrum are Toshiba and last-place HP, whose products prompted third-quarter service calls at a rate that far exceeded their market share.

HP, said Rescuecom, displayed “an unfortunate inability to make adaptations necessary to improve on a constant need of computer support for its tech devices,” while Toshiba failed to “continue the improvement it was making for a brief period.”

Holding the middle ground were Lenovo, Asus, Dell and Acer, in that order.

Concluded Rescuecom: “It will be interesting to see if Samsung and Apple continue to keep their top rankings or if some contenders will apply new technological innovations in order to claim their coveted positions.”

U.S 4K TV Penetration To Hit 35% in 2019

U.S. household penetration of Ultra HD 4K TVs will jump to 34 percent in 2019, providing significant opportunities for retailers, IHS forecasts.

The U.S. penetration rate will exceed the penetration rates of all other major countries in 2019, the company said. IHS cited America’s “comparatively strong economy and consumer penchant for large-screen TVs.”

The research and consulting company also forecasts that by the end of 2017, most 50-inch-and-larger TVs worldwide will feature 4K resolution.

The gains will be driven by recent steep price declines in 4K panels, allowing 4K TV prices to “fall significantly,” the company said.

Household penetration in the European Union is forecast to hit 25 percent in 2019, thanks to the growing availability of UHD content from Internet and pay-TV providers, IHS said. Switzerland is expected to reach 32 percent penetration in 2019, followed by the United Kingdom at 31 percent.

In Japan, only 14 percent of households will own a 4K TV in 2019 because most households already have relatively new TVs, IHS said. That was driven by domestic TV demand swelling to more than twice its normal level between 2009 and 2011. That’s when the government subsidized the purchase of energy-efficient products and switched off analog-TV service nationwide.

In addition, “with the Japanese consumer preference for smaller TV screens, it will be more difficult for 4K TV to expand its household penetration in the country, even though UHD broadcasts are set to begin in 2018 in the run up to the Tokyo Olympic Games in 2020,” said Hisakazu Torii, IHS senior director of consumer device research.

China’s penetration is expected to hit 24 percent.


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