A report released Tuesday by Internet research firm Jupiter Communications concludes that multi-channel shoppers — shoppers who use traditional stores, Web sites and print catalogs — purchase 30 percent more than those who use only one retail channel.
Most retailers fail to take advantage of the multi-channel shopping trend, however. The report, “Multi-channel Retailing,” said that 76 percent of retailers do not track customer behavior across multiple channels.
According to the study, retailers that do not analyze multi-channel behavior risk losing online market share to those who actively support and nurture such shopping strategies.
“As customers increase their use of the Internet channel, retailers must understand that multi-channel buyers form a valuable segment,” said Jupiter analyst Michele Rosenshein.
Another recent Jupiter report revealed that online research has a dramatic effect on brick-and-mortar shopping. That study predicted that in 2005, U.S. online consumers will spend in excess of $632 billion (US$) in offline channels as a direct result of online research.
Succeeding in a Multi-Channel World
The report suggested that retailers consider a variety of factors when developing channel integration strategies. Those factors include the customer’s need to touch and try, the retailer’s breadth of inventory, the customer’s likely degree of consideration prior to purchase and the retailer’s ability to deliver.
Other strategies suggested by Jupiter include:
- Accepting returns in store for items purchased on the Web
- Integrating loyalty and registry programs in all channels
- Permitting store inventory visibility on the Web for products with high purchase urgency and products that require “touch and feel”
- Featuring Web inventory visibility in physical stores for product categories with broad inventory
- Centralizing customer information, and
- Including traditional store customers in online direct marketing efforts.
Bringing it Home
In related news, Home Depot announced Tuesday that a select group of customers in Las Vegas, Nevada will test its click-and-mortar strategy.
The Home Depot model uses Zip codes to direct online customers to purchase only those products that are available in local stores. Online customers can then pick-up purchases at local stores, take same-day delivery via Home Depot trucks, or have the order delivered via United Parcel Service.
In the Home Depot multi-channel model, all items purchased online will come from the shelves of local stores, eliminating the need for warehouses.
Home Depot is looking to expand to additional markets in the third and fourth quarter of this year.