Thursday, February 7, 2008

High-Value Consumers Demand a Seamless Cross-Channel Experience

A new survey by Sterling Commerce found that “high-value” consumer groups – higher-income consumers, college graduates and younger consumers – have made cross-channel shopping a standard, indicating to retailers that achieving cross-channel execution can increase consumer loyalty and share of wallet. Increasingly, consumers are using the Web as a first touch-point and want to channel-hop to complete their purchases, making integration across channels essential to retail success.

The survey, which polled 1,005 adults between January 18 and 20, 2008, found that nearly two-thirds (64%) of all respondents went online before making a purchase in the past three months. That percentage was even higher for “high-value” consumers, such as those with household incomes of about $75,000 (81%), college graduates (78%) and consumers age 25 to 34 (77%).

The survey also queried consumers about which cross-channel activities they deemed to be most important. The top three were:

  • The ability to return merchandise to a store even if it was purchased via telephone or online (81% “very important/important”).
  • The ability to pick up merchandise at a store after ordering online (56% “very important/important”). Store pickups are particularly important to younger adults (69% of those 25 to 34 years old).
  • The availability of gift registry information in the store, online and over the telephone (56% “very important/important”). As with store pickups, having gift registry information available in multiple channels is particularly important to those 25 to 34 years old (66% “important”).

Shoppers are hopping channels to gain more value out of their interactions with a retailer. In turn, the retailer has the opportunity to gain customer loyalty and share of wallet. The Web is becoming an important first touch-point, often serving as a research tool before a store purchase, according to more than half (57%) of the survey respondents. In addition, nearly one-fourth (24%) of respondents reported using a coupon or rebate offer found online. One out of six consumers (18%) checked an online gift registry as part of the purchase process. The percentages are higher for the “high-value” consumer groups:

  • Among those with incomes of $75,000 or more, 77 percent conducted research online in advance of an in-store purchase, 32 percent used a coupon or rebate found online, and 25 percent checked an online gift registry within the past three months.
  • Among those who are college graduates, 74 percent conducted research online in advance of an in-store purchase, 31 percent used a coupon or rebate found online, and 21 percent checked an online gift registry within the past three months.

Consumers also are expecting away-from-home access to the Web to enhance their shopping experience. One-third of consumers consider it important to:

  • To have access to an online kiosk while shopping in the store to conduct product research (37%).
  • To have access to their online account while shopping in a store to view items they have tagged online (36%).
  • For call center personnel to have a record of what they have been researching online (32%).

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1 comment:

Nancy Arter said...

Great post. In fact, I liked it so much that I featured it on our Friday Blog Log (great links of the week).

I agree with your comments and I really like your survey. As consumers become more and more engaged in the buying process, they also become more loyal to the product/service. Thus, we have to become much better at making the cross-channel experience transparent to them. We need to enable them to utilize all channels in conjunction with one another.

Great post!