60% of consumers in both the UK and USA conduct the majority of their research on the internet before making a purchase, according to the Consumer Barometer tool.
Taken at first glance, these findings – the data for which has been compiled by TNS, the IAB and Google – simply demonstrate the increasing importance of the multi-channel.
Dig a little deeper, however, and they reveal that not only are consumers using the internet to advise on their purchases more and more, but that the overlap between different channels is becoming increasingly blurred as consumers switch between platforms before finalising a purchase.
Businesses with an online presence have been doing their best to distinguish between the channels that make up ‘multi-channel’– whether online, mobile, or offline – in order to push different marketing messages. But what if there is no clear difference?
Increasingly research is pointing towards a channel blur, as highlighted by the Connected with Customers Report, commissioned by LivePerson. Evidence suggests that even more shoppers (78%) research online before shopping in-store, which supports the findings of the consumer barometer tool.
As well as researching before they even leave the house, 1 in 4 consumers will use a mobile phone whilst in store to look for more information to support their purchasing decision. Therefore the website, mobile channel, and online marketing efforts can contribute to not only an online purchase, but an offline one as well. All are essential to getting that end result.
In addition, traditional thoughts about consumer habits are being thrown to the wayside thanks to channel blur. Multi-channel is shifting consumer purchasing behaviours – for example, impulse purchases are happening less on the high street, with 50% of shoppers now stating that they often buy more online than they had originally planned.
While multi-channel has provided customers with boundless choice, it also makes it far easier to ditch one channel and move to the next if there are any frustrations – and that might be the channel provided by one of your competitors!
Given this higher potential for check-out abandonment and channel blur, marketers and retailers – both online and offline – need to understand the importance of replicating the in-store experience on a website to maintain the highest possible turnover, and understand the way consumers use their channels.
The consumer barometer, for example, demonstrated that 60% of consumers shopping for cameras in the UK purchase online – but a significant percentage of customers researching online go on to complete their final purchase in store.
Getting to grips with how consumers research and purchase your products is essential for marketers – and part of this is understanding how they work across your channels. This means offering customers the right help at the right time and understanding their browsing journey.
The more you can make the process of switching between platforms an efficient and easy process, and mimic the in-store experience online, the higher the likelihood the browser will convert to a customer.