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3 Digsite Customer-Driven Ideas for Improving the Holiday Shopping Experience


Finding new avenues for customer experience improvement requires not only listening to consumers, but also relying on them for ideas. Through an online community, consumers generated three winning ideas to improve holiday shopping.

As the song goes, holidays are one of the most wonderful times of the year, but they can also be stressful.  According to a study conducted by Greenberg Quinlan Rosner, respondents experienced stress caused by the following issues “often or sometimes” during the holiday season:

  • Time - 67%

  • Money - 62%

  • Commercialism - 53%

While there are numerous studies that can tell you what impacts the holiday customer experience, has anyone tapped the consumers for ideas on how to improve the experience? We did, uncovering some noteworthy insights for manufacturers and retailers.

Using an Online Community to Find the Solution to Holiday Shopping Stress

We wanted to dig deeper than many of the quantitative studies about consumers and holiday shopping. We wanted to generate qualitative feedback from them, so we could see what they like and dislike about holiday shopping, and how they would make improvements.

A Digsite Sprint is an on-demand market research study designed to provide in-depth insights from a targeted audience. The interactive interface allowed them to answer questions, share ideas and images, and respond to fellow participants’ comments.

We recruited and then conducted a series of four activities with an online community. The group consisted of 25 community participants, all of which shopped for at least one holiday and spent over $700 on gift shopping in November and December.

Using Online Activities to Generate Holiday Shopping Insights

The Digsite Sprint included four activities, all of which would be conducted online over a period of 5 days. The activities included:

1. Survey & Reflection - Recalling the best and worst parts of the shopping experience, and identifying what should be changed.

2. Idea Brainstorm - Using pain points expressed by the group, then generating ideas for solving the issues.

3. Voting - Voting ‘thumbs up’ or ‘thumbs down’ on the favorite ideas.

4. Idea optimization - Announcing ideas, and then adding suggestions for improvements.

Those are the four activities -- let’s take a look at how they played out. (If you can’t wait, download the full report now!)

Download the Full Report

Activity 1: The Holiday Shopping Experience Survey

In the first activity, participants shared some of their shopping experiences. A few notes about the participants:

  • 23 out of the 25 shopped for 7 or more people

  • 25 shopped for their children, 24 for their parents, and 23 for their partner

  • 14 started shopping a few months before the holiday - and 5 shopped as the prior year’s holiday was over

Participants shopped in a variety of locations, although 23 out of 25 shopped at Amazon.com.  Others shopped at Target, Walmart and other department stores.

The Digsite Sprint allows participants to submit verbatim comments -- we shared a few here. We asked them what they liked about holiday shopping…

Planning makes the process smooth.

...what they didn’t like…

Crowds and Long Lines are the Worst Parts...

...and how they would improve it.

Having items in stock is important

Keep in mind that this is a qualitative research project, and that any survey results or polls we report from the Digsite Sprint should not be judged as statistically valid.

Key Takeaways:

In essence, shoppers love putting that shopping list together, but the actual shopping process itself leaves a lot to be desired.  

Check out the full report to see more Verbatim Comments and Key Insights!


Activity 2: Brainstorm Your Ideal Holiday Shopping Solutions

In the next section, we asked the participants to brainstorm their own solutions to the typical holiday shopping.

Their solutions were mainly focused on making the entire process faster and more convenient.  Many wanted to wave the magic wand of technology and create apps or websites that would solve some of these chronic consumer problems.

Some of solutions included:

“If I could create a website and app that would allow me to make a ‘wishlist’ for everyone I need to buy for it would have the ability to add items to each individual list items that can be found both in stores and online. The items would have reviews so you can see what others think of the product.”  - Amy

“My solution is to have an app that includes maps to several popular stores.”  - Cayla

“I think it would be amazing to have the option of doing your holiday shopping online maybe for one specific mall and then having a specific time where you are able to drive up to a location and pick up all your packages.”  - Janet

Key Takeaways: Speed and convenience rules the day in the mind of the consumer -- and no one really had a solution beyond apps and websites. It’s an indication of just how ingrained technology is in the shopping experience.



Activity 3 and 4: Voting and Idea Optimization

In the next two activities, participants were given the opportunity to vote on their ideas, and to also share reactions and ask questions.

For example, Idea #3 - titled “Gift Tracker” was posted to the community, and participants could mark up the ideas by dragging plus, minus and question mark symbols to indicate what they liked, didn’t like, and were confused by.

Gift Tracker

The experience not only gave the participants an opportunity to brainstorm new ideas, but to also react to consumer feedback.

What were the winning ideas? You can click here to download the full report and see the winners, but we will tell you which solutions helped shoppers:

  • Find the best deals

  • Locate gifts and check store inventories

  • Organize shopping lists and purchases

Prioritization: What Can Retailers Learn From This?

The reactions of the consumers aren’t entirely ground-breaking. They’re straightforward gripes and solutions to the holiday hurdles and headaches encountered by consumers every year.

However, there is a lot of qualitative insights within these verbatim comments and brainstormed solutions.  The fact that every solution was rooted in technology was an indication of how much consumers not only rely upon technology -- but expect nothing short of “amazing” with new ideas.

Henry Ford once said:

Graphic courtesy of quotesvil.com

Graphic courtesy of quotesvil.com

This exercise may, at first glance, appear to be a study in creating faster horses. But qualitative research is about nuance and feeling the vibe.  

The Digsite participants essentially participated in a rather democratic and innovative process. They collaborated, much like retailers collaborate every day, build upon their ideas for innovation, and dare to construct some amazing solutions.

You can build more than a faster horse. Use qualitative research like this as the springboard to make it happen.

Download the Report!

Topics: Customer Experience

Jane Boutelle

Jane Boutelle

Jane is the CCO and Co-Founder of Digsite, where she and the team provide the first truly social platform for getting consumer insights and user feedback. She has a deep background in software product management and marketing.