Survey: Consumers want retailers to integrate channels
Montreal — More than 80% of U.S consumers more likely to become loyal customers to retailers that provide an integrated experience across channels, according to a study by Hybris, a multichannel commerce and communication software provider. In other findings, high shipping costs are the biggest deterrent to online purchases, while easy navigation and simple checkout are the biggest factors influencing purchases.
The Multichannel Shopping Survey found that the importance of online and mobile strategies continue to increase, with more than a third of consumers (39%) reporting that they make more purchases online than in-store. Looking ahead, 46% of consumers plan to increase their online shopping during the 2012 holiday season.
Even while shopping in a brick-and-mortar store, consumers turn to digital channels with 19% reporting that they browse their mobile device while in-store. The vast majority do so to compare prices (66%), with others using mobile to compare product choices (27%) and read online recommendations (7%).
“Consumers are shopping on a variety of channels and devices, often simultaneously, with new technology introduced virtually every day,” said Steven Kramer, president of North America at Hybris. “What we have found is that consumers have expectations that their favorite retailers will be accessible to them anytime and anywhere. Retailers who aren’t keeping up with the latest technology will find their customers moving to a retailer who will.”
When asked to rank desired features in a multichannel retail experience, hybris found:
- Forty-five percent of respondents indicated in-store pickup options for online purchases were most important.
- Twenty-eight percent of consumers selected in-store returns for online purchases as most valuable.
In fact, these features build loyalty. Eighty-two percent of respondents would shop again at a retailer who accepted in-store returns for online purchases, and 73% were more likely to become a repeat customer if a store offers in-store pickup. However, only a third of consumers believe retailers are currently offering both in-store pickup and returns for online purchases.
The most important factors for following through with an online purchase:
- Easy navigation (59%)
- Simple checkout process (57%)
- Presence of product images (42%)
The most important factors that might deter an online purchase:
- Shipping costs (47%)
- Out of stock items (28%)
- Lack of product images (23%)
“We see a significant portion of online shoppers are turned off by high shipping costs,” said Kramer. “Since consumers remain relatively price sensitive, retailers should consider store-based fulfillment strategies such as buy online, pick up in store. In addition to omnichannel retailing strategies eliminating barriers to purchasing, they also present opportunities for retailers to sell more once they get customers in the store. These strategies also improve inventory productivity.
The Hybris study surveyed more than 500 consumers in the United States across varied income levels and ages, with an equal distribution of genders.
Brookstone launches free shipping on orders over $99
Merrimack, N.H. — Brookstone has introduced automatic free shipping on all orders over $99 through Brookstone.com.
Orders less than $99 will automatically ship for a flat rate of $4.99. Brookstone has also extended its customer care center hours to provide longer customer support hours and round-the-clock catalog ordering by phone.
"The free and flat rate shipping structure represents the latest in Brookstone’s ongoing commitment to our customers," said Jim Speltz, Brookstone COO. “We’ve made these changes in the spirit of simplifying the shopping experience for all our customers.”
The new shipping fees will be calculated automatically for online shoppers requiring no special promotional codes to be entered at the time of purchase.
Industry Trends: C-store traffic up in first quarter
New York — The mild winter weather across much of the country helped to offset the negative impact that rising gas prices traditionally have on convenience store visits, according to The NPD Group. NPD’s Convenience Store Monitor reports that in the first calendar quarter of 2012 compared with same quarter a year ago, c-store traffic increased by five percentage points from a year ago quarter and by six percentage points at major oil chain c-stores.
C-store consumers continued to pay slightly more for products with average check increasing slightly to $11.21 in the first quarter of 2012 compared with $11.08 in the same quarter year ago, according to the Convenience Store Monitor, which continually tracks the consumer purchasing behavior of more than 51,000 convenience store shoppers in the United States.
At the same time, consumers are not purchasing more products at c-stores with average units purchased maintaining at about 3.4 items per visit, the same level as a year ago.