Consumers Want Best of Online & Offline Shopping

by Shipearly on July 5, 2016 No comments

As a marketer, keeping up with constantly changing consumer behaviour and shopping patterns is difficult yet necessary. Over half of all marketers say they don’t feel confident their organization understands the entire customer journey to purchase products as consumers are shopping between channels more than ever. In fact, 93% of consumer shop in more than one sales channel before buying and their preferred channel is still physical retail. As a result it is no surprise that digital is influencing more and more sales at retail, to the point 56 cents on every dollar spent in store is influenced online. With cross-channel shopping becoming the norm how can your marketing team determine the ROI on digital without visibility of the customers offline spend as they shop between and across channels?

Why Consumers Prefer to Shop Brick and Mortar

Despite the digital shift, consumers remain loyal to brick and mortar for a variety of reasons. These include discovering new products (85%), trust the local store (68%) and the ability to return items locally (68%). Of course this also includes having someone local to service and/or support a purchased product and educate new consumers discovering new products at retail. Many branded manufacturers have an incredible asset in their retail network that its primary purpose is to serve as a showroom to obtain new customers seeking out products in the physical world. These stores are being under-utilized and can provide an increased convenience to consumers by blending online and offline operations.

Consumers Want the Convenience & Assortment of Online

The primary drivers for consumers to be able to shop online is the ability to buy on their own terms, more convenient than visiting a store, more assortment and the ability to buy products not typically available in-store. Ongoing changes in consumer preferences and behaviours at various moments of the shopping journey show that consumers want to manage the journey on the path to purchase themselves, as opposed to those prescribed by retailers or marketers. 66 percent of consumers cite the desire for a self-directed journey, up from 30 percent just two years ago limiting a retailers involvement in the research and education phase. 95% of consumers want the ability to buy online citing the convenience factor and without inventory visibility do not want to waste their time going to a store that does not stock the product the consumer intends to buy. Consumers are seeking more assortment and the ability to buy products not typically available in-store. Yet it is impossible for a retailer to stock a brands entire catalogue in the anticipation a consumer will purchase without sharing data with vendors.

Everyone Wins When Combining Sales Channels

Managing digital and retail as two separate channels is difficult and means no customer visibility, insights, and a lost sale if a consumer is sent to a retailer without the desired item in-stock or even worse… A competitor is in-stock. To close the gap between researching online and buying in a store branded manufacturers should consider an omni-channel clicks to bricks strategy of their own to benefit everyone in their sales channel and reward everyone within the organization for operating as a cohesive unit rather than competing online vs wholesale.

Consumers

60% of consumers expect omni-channel capabilities such as same day pickup/delivery, and local returns & exchanges from retailers, wouldn’t they expect the same from a brand’s website?  For higher priced items, consumers are three times more likely to buy items online that cost over $500 when buying local. 80% of Internet users surveyed by Forrester Consulting for RetailNext said they expected to be able to make returns in-store regardless of how they bought an item. By integrating resellers into the checkout, common barriers leading to abandoned carts can be overcome. And of course, the consumer gets the exact product they want while shopping on their terms.

Retailers

Rather than a retailer losing sales to the brand directly or to an “authorized online retailer”, the consumer can buy online and pickup at a local retailer so that dealer gets new customers, sales, and the insight that they should be stocking the product in addition to the knowledge that your brand drove the customer to the store and not your competitors they may have purchased otherwise.

Brands

Brands can track their digital spend to determine if it resulted in a sale, perform A/B testing to discover what messaging or promotion drives the most traffic and sales to retail and calculate a return on investment. Brands also get to capture more sales online before the consumer gets to store to circumvent competition. Rather than competing with dealers, eCommerce can be used to partner to both sell in and sell through retailer inventory where 90% of sales still occur. In doing so, your company is more likely to enhance retail relationships, keep spot in store secure, and get discovered by new customers leading to substantial online and wholesale gains that are sustainable/repeatable.

A Bright Future for Clicks to Bricks

This UPS report found that consumers (49%) believe integrating in-store, online, and mobile shopping channels is the best way to improve the overall shopping and brand experience. These numbers indicate that neither online or brick and mortar retail is going anywhere but must co-exist and be combined to create the ultimate customer experience. We are in the age of the connected consumer where they are in the drivers seat expecting the best of buying online coupled with the benefits of buying offline too. Those who can provide the most seamless experience and make it easier for consumers to buy are going to succeed. Retail is being won and lost on consumer experience and branded manufacturers need to embrace the native capabilities of their retail partners and integrate with platforms where their current and prospective customers are already interacting at scale.

Are you interested in becoming an omni-channel brand and open up new possibilities for your wholesale business and end consumers? If so, contact us and let’s start a conversation!

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