Consumers Make Use of Multiple Retail Channels

Holiday spending was down in 2001, according to DoubleClick’s Holiday Shopping study, but consumers did manage to leverage multiple channels when making their purchasing decisions.

Multichannel shoppers, defined as those who browse or purchase through more than one channel (retail store, catalog, Internet), reported using all three channels in symbiosis for browsing and purchasing over the holiday season. Consumers cited price, selection and convenience of catalogs; the speed and the 24-hour availability of the Internet; and the ability to see and sample products at retail stores, as reasons for purchasing through respective channels. It is still the retail channel, however, that dominated holiday purchasing for the multichannel consumer.

Nearly two-thirds of multichannel shoppers browse in one channel but buy in another, DoubleClick found. In general, women tend to browse in one channel and purchases in another more often than men. Forty-six percent of women and 43 percent of men browsed on the Internet and purchased at retail stores. Whereas, 37 percent of women and 28 percent of men browsed through catalogs and purchased at retail stores.

There appears to be a natural connection between catalogs and online purchases. Half of those that browsed in a catalog and purchased online (53 percent of women and 38 percent of men) used a product code from the catalog online.

Not surprisingly, consumers are still unwilling in many cases to buy big-ticket items online. Music, movies and books were purchased online, but consumers were more than happy to browse for big-ticket items online without buying online. Forty-five percent of consumers preferred to browse on the Internet for home electronics and computer software/hardware in particular.

“Results from this data demonstrate the need for marketers to have tools in place in order to better measure how one channel is driving sales to another channel,” said David Rosenblatt, President, DoubleClick. “Consumers will continue to browse in one channel and purchase in another, reflecting their goal to find the best selection, service and pricing. Tracking these results by channel represents an enormous opportunity for marketers if they align their promotional dollars with this trend.”

Multichannel shoppers do spend more, DoubleClick found. Consumers that either browsed or purchased in all three transaction channels spent $995 on holiday shopping, compared with consumers who browsed or purchased in two channels ($894) and consumers who only used one channel ($591).

Out of the average $894 spent by multichannel consumers, $572 (64 percent) was spent in retail stores, $233 ($26 percent) was spent on the Internet, and $89 (10 percent) was spent through catalogs. Fifty-four percent purchased through both retail stores and on the Internet, and 22 percent made purchases through all three channels.

For 75 percent of consumers, clothing and accessories remained the highest interest area for shopping over the holidays, followed closely by movies, music and books (71 percent). However, it is the home electronics category that saw the highest spending levels with shoppers spending an average of $256, followed closely by the home décor/gifts category with an average spend of $225.

DoubleClick’s study found that holiday spending decreased by less than 1 percent from last year. Eighty-four percent of consumers cited economic reasons for reduced spending, and 39 percent of those who increased their spending did so due to special offers and discount incentives. The data also reveals that 86 percent of consumers stated that the events of Sept. 11 did not affect their holiday shopping habits. In fact, only 6 percent of consumers were wary of having merchandise delivered by postal mail, and only 5 percent were concerned about visiting a mall or retail store.

The study was fielded by Greenfield Online from Jan. 4 to Jan. 9, 2002. It is based upon 1,358 respondents averaging approximately 40 years in age.

Holiday E-Commerce Coverage from CyberAtlas
CyberAtlas reported on several post-holiday shopping studies, covering online traffic reporting, spending and customer service. Here are the links:

NRF/Forrester E-Commerce Index:

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