Consumers are increasingly using the Web as a first touchpoint and want to channel-hop to complete their purchase, a recent survey conducted by Opinion Research Corp. on behalf of Sterling Commerce confirmed. In addition, the survey concluded that “high value” consumers have made cross-channel shopping a pre-requisite for committing their loyalty and share of wallet to a retailer.
The survey, which polled more than 1,000 adults in January 2008, found that nearly 2/3 of all respondents went online before making a purchase in the past three months. The percentage was even higher for “high value” consumer groups, such as those with household incomes above $75,000 (81%), college graduates (78%), and consumers between the ages of 25 and 34 (77%).
Consistent with other industry research, the top 3 cross-channel activities cited as the most important by respondents were:
Ø The ability to return merchandise to a store even it was purchased via a telephone or online (cited as important/very important by 81%)
Ø The ability to pick up merchandise at a store after ordering online (56% for all respondents/69% for 25-34 age group)
Ø The availability of gift registry information in the store, online and over the telephone (56% full survey/66% for 25-34)
“As this survey shows, consumers are demanding new levels of convenience only found when different shopping channels support each other seamlessly,” said Jim Bengier, global retail industry executive for Sterling Commerce, an AT&T Inc. subsidiary.
The survey also highlighted the expanding use of the web as the first touchpoint in the shopping experience, with 57% citing websites as a research tool, 24% indicating they used a coupon or rebate found online, and 18% checking an online gift registry as part of the purchase process.
The growing influence of the Web is also driving consumers to expect away-from-home access to online sites, as more than 1/3 of respondents were looking for access to an online kiosk (37%) while shopping to conduct product research, 36% wanted access to their online account to see items they had previously tagged, and 32% found it important for call center personnel to have a record of what they have been researching online.