November 1, 2001, 12:00 AM

Shop.org’s latest study underlines the importance of multi-channel customers

Shop.org identifies the Super Shopper, who shops in all three channels of her favorite retailer and spends a lot more than the average shopper in each channel.

The report, which the trade group for online retailers issued last month, identifies “Super Shoppers” as customers who shop in all three channels. They buy four times more often online than the average online customer, 70% more often in the store than the average store customer and 110% more using the catalog than the average catalog customer.

“These results are very strong validation of the importance of a multi-channel strategy,” says Jim Okamura, senior partner with consultants J.C. Williams Group and author of the report. “Super shoppers are a key segment. You must know them, talk with them and treat them with kid gloves.”

The Multi-Channel Retail Report 2001 was sponsored by Shop.org, the J.C. Williams Group and BizRate.com. The report interviewed 44 executives from 22 retail chains, ranging in size from three chains under $250 million in annual sales to eight chains with over $5 billion as well as 48,000 customers of those retailers.

In addition to drawing in the super shoppers, retailers must target other customers who could become super shoppers, Okamura urges.

“The middle market is coming on,” Okamura says. “They are the ultra savvy shoppers who have identified the benefits of the multiple channels and are smart about the benefits that each channel provides. They know which retailers are doing what and which channels they are doing it in.”

The report notes that multi-channel shoppers are 72% female, younger on average than other shoppers in every channel, with a relatively low household income and the lowest percentage of college education. And 71% of online shoppers interviewed were first-time online customers of that retailer. “That can only be positive for the future of multi-channel retailing,” Okamura says.

Retailers face a big challenge in tapping the mutli-channel shoppers, Okamura says. Retailers, he says, need to prioritize their spending so they develop first the channel with the highest value customer and make sure that all departments support all channels. They also need to coordinate their customer data across all channels and invest in systems to understand that data and install real-time inventory tracking across all channels. “No single retailer was deemed excellent in all areas,” he says.

Shop.org is an arm of the National Retail Federation. MSN eShop and R.R. Donnelley underwrote the report.

Latest research from trade group Shop.org confirms what retailers have believed: Multi-channel customers are their most valuable.

The report, which the trade group for online retailers issued last month, identifies “Super Shoppers” as customers who shop in all three channels. They buy four times more often online than the average online customer, 70% more often in the store than the average store customer and 110% more using the catalog than the average catalog customer.

“These results are very strong validation of the importance of a multi-channel strategy,” says Jim Okamura, senior partner with consultants J.C. Williams Group and author of the report. “Super shoppers are a key segment. You must know them, talk with them and treat them with kid gloves.”

The Multi-Channel Retail Report 2001 was sponsored by Shop.org, the J.C. Williams Group and BizRate.com. The report interviewed 44 executives from 22 retail chains, ranging in size from three chains under $250 million in annual sales to eight chains with over $5 billion as well as 48,000 customers of those retailers.

In addition to drawing in the super shoppers, retailers must target other customers who could become super shoppers, Okamura urges.

“The middle market is coming on,” Okamura says. “They are the ultra savvy shoppers who have identified the benefits of the multiple channels and are smart about the benefits that each channel provides. They know which retailers are doing what and which channels they are doing it in.”

The report notes that multi-channel shoppers are 72% female, younger on average than other shoppers in every channel, with a relatively low household income and the lowest percentage of college education. And 71% of online shoppers interviewed were first-time online customers of that retailer. “That can only be positive for the future of multi-channel retailing,” Okamura says.

Retailers face a big challenge in tapping the mutli-channel shoppers, Okamura says. Retailers, he says, need to prioritize their spending so they develop first the channel with the highest value customer and make sure that all departments support all channels. They also need to coordinate their customer data across all channels and invest in systems to understand that data and install real-time inventory tracking across all channels. “No single retailer was deemed excellent in all areas,” he says.

Shop.org is an arm of the National Retail Federation. MSN eShop and R.R. Donnelley underwrote the report.

 

 

The importance of return-to-the-store policies

Multi-channel retailers who allow online customers to return merchandise to a store have hit on a feature that is extremely appealing to shoppers, according to the Multi-Channel Retail Report 2001 from Shop.org. In fact, returning to the store ranked second highest in importance to online shoppers, behind only the convenience of shopping outside of normal retail hours.

Asked “How important are the following benefits of this retailer offering both online and offline shopping option?” and using a scale of 1 (not at all important) to 5 (very important), the 48,000 online buyers that BizRate.com interviewed for the report rated returning merchandise to the store at 4.27 and shopping at any time at 4.53. Catalog shoppers also rated returning to the store as the second most attractive feature, giving it a score of 3.85. Convenience rated 4.41 among catalog shoppers.

Underscoring the importance of the multi-channel approach, the third most important feature to online shoppers was the ability to check a price online before buying it in the store.

Interestingly, the ability to return items bought online or through the catalog to the store ranked as the most important item to store shoppers, who gave it a 3.47.

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