July 30, 2002, 12:00 AM

Exercise caution when pursuing multi-channel customers, Jupiter urges

Active multi-channel shoppers spend 34% more online and 32% more in online-influenced purchases, but are three times more likely to have printed a coupon from a web site and take up a disproportionate amount of rich-media offerings, Jupiter says.

Single-minded pursuit of the multi-channel shopper may prove counterproductive, says a new survey from Jupiter Research Inc. The customer segment that Jupiter defines as active multi-channel shoppers spend 34% more online and 32% more in online-influenced purchases than do other consumers, but they are three times more likely than other shoppers to have downloaded or printed a coupon from a web site and they take up a disproportionate amount of the rich-media offerings on web sites.

Further, Jupiter says, active multi-channel shoppers are not necessarily more loyal than average multi-channel shoppers and in fact are more likely to switch to a competitor for a discount or to go offline for a better price from the same retailer. For instance, when asked why they did not complete an apparel purchase after researching it online, active multi-channel shoppers were twice as likely to cite the availability of a lower price in the store than were average multi-channel shoppers.

At the same time, in almost all categories, active multi-channel shoppers were more likely to use site enhancements than were average multi-channel shoppers or single-channel shoppers. For instance, 67% had used zoom vs. 55% of multi-channel shoppers and 45% of single channel; 20% had used live help vs. 9% of average multi-channel shoppers and 6% of single-channel.

In addition, active multi-channel shoppers were more likely to have purchased from multiple stores than average multi-channel shoppers. “This group is more deal-driven, more aware of price in every channel and consumes more in terms of costly site features such as live help,” the Jupiter report says.

Jupiter defines active multi-channel shoppers as consumers who tend to buy online and offline from the same retailer vs. average multi-channel shoppers who tend to research products at one online retailer and buy offline at another.

The report--Jupiter Consumer Survey Report, Retail 2002--concludes: “Retailers should avoid the temptation to equate consumers’ willingness to transact across multiple channels with store loyalty. To maximize online profitability, each retailer must vigilantly segment and analyze its customers and thereby determine how much of its own multi-channel buyers merit attention and resources beyond those allocated to other shoppers.”

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