July 23, 2010, 2:27 PM

Consumers that shop across channels are more lucrative than others

65% of merchants say cross-channel shoppers offer better prospects.

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65% of merchants say that consumers that shop across multiple channels, such as online, in-store and on their smartphones, are more profitable than single-channel consumers, according to a new study by research and consulting firm Retail Systems Research. That’s up from 56% a year ago.

Given the consumer movement toward cross-channel shopping—and given that store sales for most retailers are flat or down—retailers have little choice but to accommodate the consumer desire to shop across channels, says the report “The Cross-Channel Wake Up Call.”

“If retailers are not cross-channel, they are not only leaving a lot of value on the table, but are actively encouraging customers to shop with other retailers that better accommodate how they want to engage in the shopping process,” says the report.

Each of the top three challenges facing retailers have little to do with the outside world, according to the survey. Those challenges are:

  • Internal culture (cited by 46%)
  • The need to better leverage internal assets (45%)
  • Standardizing the customer experience across all channels (34%)

33% of retailers also noted the economic climate is also limiting their ability to move forward with cross-channels strategies.

Despite those challenges, retailers are increasingly focused on helping consumers shop across channels. For instance, although 34% of retailers currently allow consumers who buy online to pick up the item in a store, only 28% of those without the option say they have no plans to add the feature.

Here are the most valued cross-channel capabilities, with the percentage citing the feature:

  • Cross-channel customer visibility, 74%
  • Cross-channel marketing or promotions, 69%
  • Cross-channel inventory visibility, 67%
  • Enterprise cross-channel analytics, 64%
  • Enterprise content management, 53%
  • Distributed order management, 48%
  • Integration to social network tools and sites, 34%
  • A mobile commerce platform separate from e-commerce, 27%
  • Integration of return management, 22%
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