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Independent survey highlights consumer expectations for cross-channel retailing

Consumer survey shows ‘Saving the sale’ in store is now retailers’ biggest opportunity to improve customer loyalty.

GENERAL MERCHANDISE

Independent survey highlights consumer expectations for cross-channel retailing

Sterling Commerce have revealed the results of its annual research into consumer shopping behaviour across retail channels. The online study, conducted by Ipsos MORI and carried out across Great Britain, France and Germany, indicates that the ability to process orders on the spot in a store, regardless of whether the product is available at the time, is the foremost requirement for retailers in improving a consumers’ shopping experience when they are in a store.

In all three countries, the most important features in improving peoples’ overall shopping experience when they are shopping in store is to have more staff to assist with product knowledge and the staff always being able to locate a product at another store and reserve for home delivery.  If shopping online, consumers indicate ‘accurate product stock availability’ and ‘easier ways of ordering and receiving items’ are two of the most important features in improving their shopping experience. The survey highlights that retailers are missing a trick if they are not able to close sales when and where the customer turns up to buy, and perform a ‘save the sale’, wherever that may be.

According to the survey:

When buying in store, shoppers who rate ‘Staff always being able to locate product (e.g. size or colour) at other store and reserve or order for home delivery’ as very important to improving their overall shopping experience, amount to:

o   54 percent in Great Britain

o   49 percent in France

o   36 percent in Germany

When buying in store, shoppers who rate having ‘More staff to assist with product knowledge in store’ as very important to improving their overall shopping experience, amount to:

o   50 percent in Great Britain

o   49 percent in France

o   44 percent in Germany

When buying over the Internet, shoppers who rate ‘Always having accurate product stock availability’ as very important to improving their overall shopping experience, equal:

o   64 percent in Great Britain

o   58 percent in France

o   31 percent in Germany

Furthermore, when buying over the internet, the following rate ‘Easier ways of ordering and receiving items’ as very important to improving their overall shopping experience:

o   56 percent in Great Britain

o   51 percent in France

o   46 percent in Germany

 

 “Many retailers believe they are multi-channel but fail to invest in their most important channel – the store,” says David Hogg, retail industry executive at Sterling Commerce. “Lack of internal inventory visibility means they cannot easily save the sale of customers who still experience a stubborn percentage of out of stocks. There is broad industry consensus that cross-channel consumers spend more and are more profitable. However, they are used to choosing from expansive online product assortments, even if the inventory is held by drop ship suppliers. This poses a stock visibility challenge that almost no European retailer has successfully addressed to date.”

The study also highlighted that when purchasing via a call centre, shoppers in all three countries state that “Staff always being able to deal with enquiries about orders and purchases’ tracking and delivery status” is the most important to improving their overall shopping experience. This was rated as very important by 50 percent of shoppers in Great Britain, 47 percent of shoppers in France and 33 percent in Germany.

“There is scope for retailers to improve consumer experience by linking e-commerce to in-store activity, adds Hogg. “IMRG [the industry body for global e-retailing] has pointed out that the weakest aspect of e-commerce is dealing with queries. Consumers often view the call centre as an order capture and issue resolution channel, rather than a sales channel, and this can be extended to stores. The survey results show the importance of the experience retailers can provide in-store and follow-up in the call centre, often after shoppers also have interacted online.,”

David Hogg will be presenting the research results in more detail at The Retail Bulletin Customer Loyalty Conference 2010. For more details on the event, which is free to attend for retailers, click here.

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