4/19/13

Consumers want to easily move across shopping channels

Many already go from web to store and vice versa.

Don Davis , Editor in Chief

Consumers are going to stores to examine products, pulling out their smartphones to check prices and sometimes buying online. They also often go online before a store visit. And they expect to do more of this cross-channel shopping and would like retailers to make it easier to do, according to a survey by consulting firm Accenture.

There are, however, big differences in shopper behavior depending on what they’re buying. Consumers shopping for apparel and consumer electronics will frequently use stores, mobile devices and the web to gather information. That’s far less true for the everyday items consumers overwhelmingly buy in bricks-and-mortar supermarkets and drug stores, according to the survey of 750 U.S. consumers.

Nonetheless, consumers are adamant that they want cross-channel shopping to be easy. 89% say it’s important for retailers to let them shop the way they want, and a plurality—49%—say the best thing retailers can do to make shopping more convenient is to better integrate in-store, online and mobile shopping, according to the “Accenture Seamless Retail Study” released this week.

There is often a big discrepancy between consumer expectations of easy shopping across channels and retailer performance, says Chris Donnelly, global managing director of Accenture’s retail practice. “In many cases we have found a significant gap between consumer expectations and reality, but we believe seamlessness is achievable,” Donnelly says. “Traditional retailers must take stock of their operational capabilities. They require a presence at every stage of the customer journey to deliver a consistently personalized, on-brand experience from discovery through research, purchase, fulfillment and beyond to product maintenance or returns.”

As examples of disconnects, Accenture points out that while 73% of consumers expect retailers to offer the same prices online as in stores a separate Accenture survey of top retailers indicates that’s the case for only 16% of retailers that operate stores and sell on the web. And while 43% of shoppers expect the same product assortment online and in store, that’s true for only 19% of multichannel retailers, Accenture says. Wal-Mart Stores Inc., for example, offers more than 10 times as many items at Walmart.com as in a typical Wal-Mart store, according to company executives.

Other findings from the Accenture survey include:

Topics:

Accenture, industry statistics, Mobile, mobile commerce, omnichannel, retail chains, showrooming, smartphones

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