October 10, 2001, 12:00 AM

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

Shop.org’s new report identifies “Super Shoppers” as customers who shop in all three channels. They buy four times more often online, 70% more often in the store and 110% more using the catalog than the average customer in each channel.

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

Shop.org released the “Multi-Channel Retail Report 2001” this morning. It 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 the 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.


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