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Customers choose purchase channel according to product type

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18th Nov 2011
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Modern consumers use a variety of channels to make purchases depending on the product type, new research has revealed.

The study from database and loyalty marketing specialist GI Insight found that the customer journey – from first marketing contact to final purchase – does not usually take place over one channel alone.
Instead, the vast majority of UK consumers instead taking a multi-channel approach to buying, even though the high street remains a vital stop in the customer journey. Around three quarters of UK consumers prefer to examine and test bulky items such as bicycles, playpens, garden tools and furniture in-store first, even when they go to a website to make the final purchase.
Similarly, 69% of consumers like to try on style products including fashion accessories, clothes, shoes and sunglasses in store, and 60% prefer to look at and try out electronic products such as DVD players, computers, and TVs in the shop before they buy – although many of the actual purchases may in fact be made later online.
The survey of more than 1,000 UK consumers also shows that, whilst UK consumers tend to purchase from their favourite brands both online and in-store, their buying habits are also affected by the type of product they are intending to purchase.
But for other products – especially standardised items that are exactly the same regardless of the retail outlet  and require little sizing up or examination - consumers give the high street a complete miss, preferring to simply make a quick order online. For products like CDs, DVDs, light bulbs or kitchen utensils, 68% of UK consumers say they prefer to buy such items directly online.
When it comes to their favourite retailers, nearly two thirds of respondents said they purchase from both the brand’s website and its high street stores, confirming that UK consumers are not wedded to a single purchasing channel when it comes to the companies they prefer and buy from most.
Andy Wood, Managing Director of GI Insight, said the findings showed there is logic to consumer behaviour across multiple channels. “Understanding this on an individual level can be crucial to managing customers and getting them to remain loyal, buy more with each transaction, and purchase more frequently.
“Gaining insight into how customers buy different products through different channels, or use multiple channels in combination as they come to a purchasing decision, enables a brand to tailor the message and the offer for the channel which best reflects the product and the consumer’s preferences.”
The study also showed that when it comes to promotional activities, retailers should not presume their customers want to redeem points through the same channel as they were gained and warns that rewards should not be channel-exclusive.
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