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Five tips for understanding the multichannel shopper

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21st Jul 2014
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Advancement in technology over the past five years has changed the way retailers attract and retain customers. It has also enhanced and expanded the number of ways customers shop.

While statistical information surrounding multichannel shoppers has been available for some time, technology is allowing businesses to use data to identify behavioural and personable traits – painting a contextualised profile of the multichannel shopper. So what are the five key insights retailers should be currently aware of and acting on?  

Visibility

Consumers will pick the channel they find most useful to them, with tablets able to offer video, interactive graphics and detailed product information while a printed catalogue continues to be one of the best ways to show an entire product range. However, it must be understood that customers shop around and are just a click away from being able to compare prices and find special offers. Most customers shop with a surprisingly small number of retailers across multiple channels - with 80% choosing to shop with no more than five multichannel favourites (Source: PWC, Demystifying The Online Shopper, Jan. 2013).

Mobility

Consumers have access to a wealth of information – and nearly one in four smartphone users have changed their mind about buying a product or service in a store as a result of information found using their smartphone (Source: Google, Our Mobile Planet, United Kingdom, May 2013). Mobile is an integral part of the multichannel shopping journey and customers expect the multichannel shopping experience to be convenient, engaging and informative. Research shows that 55% of time spent by customers online on retail websites in the U.S. is now being accessed via a mobile device (Source: comScore, Media Metrix Multi-Platform, June 2013).

Stay profitable

What many consumers value most is not the number of channels offered but how these channels support each other to create a convenient shopping experience, which makes it easy to gather new ideas and learn about relevant products. Nearly one in five consumers say they spend at least 25% more when shopping across multiple channels (Source: PWC, Demystifying The Online Shopper, Jan. 2013). Clearly, more options for consumers to make a purchase helps complete the sale. In addition, a seamless shopping experience that appeals to a consumer’s personal choice is vital (Source: www.experian.co.uk/marketing-information-services/scv-press-release.html, 2012).  

Fuse platforms

Mobile devices might be changing the way people shop – but some traditional channels remain firm favourites with consumers. For example, around two thirds (62%) of mobile customers still shop using catalogues, just one example of how multichannel shoppers create their own combination of traditional and digital channels (Source: eDigitalResearch, Changing Trends in Multichannel Shopping and Browsing Preferences, Oct. 2013) .

Indeed, a Retail Week survey highlighted that more shoppers browse through a printed catalogue (25%) than use a tablet (12%) or smartphone (13%) (Source: Retail Week, Multichannel Now 2013, March 2013). Before investing in the latest mobile-optimised website feature or app, it is therefore extremely important to consider how well existing online and physical channels work together to make life easier for customers.

Keep social

More than half of smartphone owners visit a social network on their mobile device at least once a day (Source: Google, Our Mobile Planet, United Kingdom, May 2013). Yet while brands can build followers and increase their share of voice, only 12% of smartphone owners have bought an item through a social media site (Source: PWC, Demystifying The Online Shopper, Jan. 2013).

The opinion of family and friends is now an integral part of many multichannel purchase decisions. Among shoppers who already use their smartphone or tablet in-store, over half are more likely to make a purchase if they get advice from someone they know (Source: Columbia Business School, Showrooming and the Rise of The Mobile-Assisted Shopper, Sept. 2013).

Final thought: know your customer personally using payment data

Multichannel journeys make it difficult to comprehend consumer profiles but the collection, integration and use of different types of data is essential for understanding multichannel customers and their purchase decisions. Typically, the first data challenge for multichannel retailers to overcome is understanding its customers across the multiple channels so that patterns of behaviour, unique to their business, can be identified. By analysing certain data, merchants may find the points above much easier to obtain, integrate and improve their omnichannel services.

Finding the link between data through using different sources can give retailers the ability to acknowledge customers and personalise their shopping experience based on their preferences, purchasing history and behaviour. It is becoming increasingly important to provide customers with offers relevant to them and at the right time. Almost half (43%) of consumers say they would make additional purchases or be likely to return to the retailer if products were marketed to them in a way that reflected their personal circumstances (Source: www.experian.co.uk/marketing-information-services/scv-press-release.html, 2012).

Shane Fitzpatrick is the President and Managing Director of Chase Paymentech Europe Limited.

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