Study: Omnichannel shopping varies by category and country; most prevalent in U.S.

New York -- Shoppers in the United States are most likely to combine online and in-person sources when buying consumer electronics (70%), toys (66%), apparel (58%), and home appliances (57%), according to a new study by Gfk. At the low end of the omnichannel spectrum in the United States are cleaning products (14%), OTC medications (15%), and food and beverages (15%).

The study shows that, across 12 categories, 37% of U.S. shoppers – and 29% globally – are turning to both online and in-store shopping when making purchases.

“Retailers need to embrace and market to shoppers’ fast-changing habits and preferences, providing a well calibrated mix of information, service, and promotion,” said Alison Chaltas, executive VP of shopper and retail strategy at GfK. “It is also essential to have a unified message and brand across platforms. The holy grail in this new environment will be creating an integrated and consistent message to shoppers that you are ready to serve them wherever they go – in store, online, and along the way.”

Shoppers in the United States cited logical reasons for choosing the in-store experience: “Lets me see and feel products” (cited by 64% of omnichannel shoppers) and “Can get products sooner” (63%) were selected most often. By contrast, factors driving online shopping were almost completely different – with “saves money” and “saves gas money” tied (63% each) as most mentioned.

“We clearly see that brick-and-mortar stores still matter for a variety of items,” said Joe Beier, executive VP of shopper and retail strategy at GfK. “But the role of stores in the shopping and buying experience is changing dramatically. Retailers need to find new and different ways to draw people in, through value-added services and a truly shopper-centric experience.”

Across the globe, one third (33%) of all shoppers report using a cell phone during a store visit to research prices; and roughly two in ten (19%) have actually purchased something with a smartphone while visiting a retail outlet. Half of all global shoppers have found a product online using a tablet, and 42% have made a purchase with a tablet.

The survey also revealed that online shopping habits vary widely by category. In consumer electronics, for example, the United States has by far the highest level of omni-channel behavior (70%); Chile is a distant second (56%), and the global average is 46%. In beauty and personal care, however, China is the global leader (57%), with the U.S. tied for fifth with Bulgaria and Romania (all at 31%).

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