Thursday, June 12, 2008

Multi-Channel Shopping Changing Retail

JUNE 12, 2008

Bargain hunting reduces loyalty

US consumers are increasingly using multiple channels to shop and buy. While researching online and then buying in-store has become common, this consumer behavior is changing consumer loyalties and spending. Multi-channel shopping is also changing how retailers sell their goods.

Consumers in the US who shop using multiple channels are more likely to purchase from multiple providers, according to an April 2008 study by Opinion Research Corporation (ORC).

"Multi-channel customers are often the most astute about pricing, and as such, may not be the most loyal," said Jill Glathar, vice president at ORC, in a statement.

The good news is that multi-channel shoppers tended to spend nearly twice as much as consumers who used only one channel.

ORC also noted that multi-channel shopping varied by industry, with far fewer consumers using multiple channels to shop at specialty stores than at big box retailers such as Home Depot or mass merchants such as Wal-Mart.

Those large multi-channel retailers also receive slightly more of their sales on the Internet than do total multi-channel retailers (35% vs. 31%), and 12 percentage points less of their sales come through stores, according to a February 2008 study commissioned by IBM and SAP and conducted by Retail Systems Research.

Multi-channel shoppers who research products online and buy in-store are having a greater effect on store sales than on Web sales.

eMarketer forecasts that in 2008, Web-influenced store sales will reach $625.2 billion, compared with $158.3 billion in retail e-commerce sales. From 2007 to 2012, Web-influenced store sales are expected to grow at a 19% average annual rate, compared with a 12% rate for e-commerce sales.

Another way to look at the numbers: In 2008, online product research generated $3.95 in offline sales for every $1 in online sales. By 2012, the proportion will be $4.68 for every $1.

Learn all the methods consumers use to communicate with businesses. Read eMarketer's Multi-Channel Retailing report.

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