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cross channel shoppingThe majority of consumers surveyed at bricks-and-mortar locations of Macy’s, The Gap, Best Buy and the Apple Store said they use the retailers' web sites to help make their in-store purchase:
•    88% said they had shopped that retailer's web site
•    75% said visiting the brand's web site helps them to shop in-store
•    85% compared prices online
•    44% visited a competitor's web site
•    26% will visit the retailer's web site to continue shopping after leaving the store

The findings come from a survey entitled "Respect the Shopper: Harmonizing the Cross-Channel Experience" conducted by David Selinger, Amazon's former R&D head and current CEO of RichRelevance,  and Envirosell CEO Paco Underhill, author of Why We Buy.  The multichannel study was based on hundreds of in-store and post-purchase interviews conducted during the 2009 holiday season in various US locations exclusive of New York City.

The objective was to examine how consumers shop across channels and to provide retailers with guidance.traditional vs online purchase funnel

"Shoppers don’t think they’re interacting with a 'channel' but with a store," the authors found, "or more specifically, the brand embodied by the store. Yet, channel dissonance (inventory and price disparities, dissimilar return policies, digital promotions that are not honored or recognized) is widespread."

Retailers are encouraged to pay attention to three elements of cross-channel shopping, of equal import in online and bricks-and-mortar environment:

Time "a measure of shopper engagement—the actual minutes spent shopping"

Signage "part of a thoughtful and planned strategy to address the informational needs of customers—whether in a physical store or web environment"

Flow "how well the store or channel layout accommodates customers has a direct impact on sales."

Aligning these element not only in online and offline channels is essential, find the authors, as is seamlessly integrating mobile into the shopping experience for retailers hoping to get a big piece of the $249 billion Forrester estimates will be spent on online retail in 2014.

Rebecca Lieb

Published 26 March, 2010 by Rebecca Lieb

Rebecca Lieb oversees Econsultancy's North American operations.

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