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Thirty percent of consumers use more than three commerce channels: Study

The consumer survey shows how consumers use various channels as they research product and service options to make purchases. Accordingly, merchants need broader cross-channel approach to drive sales and enhance consumer experiences.

“While we know mobile commerce is on the rise, we were pleased to quantify just how regularly consumers are using their mobile devices to browse, research and make purchases,” Kelly O’Neill, product marketing director at ATG, Cambridge, MA.

“Furthermore, when individuals were asked why they might start their research online via a computer or mobile device, but then go to a store to make a purchase, a majority said they wanted to touch and feel the product,” she said.

“But respondents also said that they would go to the store or call a customer service representative because they wanted to compare several brands of the same product or the merchant didn’t have all the product/service information I needed to buy online – these latter responses highlight a need for better information and innovation to be provided in the online and mobile channels.”

Mobile survey
According to the survey, 27 percent of all consumers 18 and older use their mobile devices to browse or research products and services at least four times a year and the number jump to 41 percent for the 18-34 year-old age group.

More than three-quarters of consumers use two or more channels and approximately one-third use three or more channels to browse, research and purchase products.

Merchants can increase online sales and improve contact center efficiency by offering more information on the Web, according to the survey.

Shopping has become a cross-channel experience for consumers,” Ms. O’Neill said. “They rely on their smartphones to connect with each other, research and browse companies and products, and even to make purchases.

“Marketers should be exploring ways to further integrate mobile commerce into their cross-channel strategies,” she said. “As evidenced by our survey findings, the mobile shopping experience should be as convenient and as informative as possible to help consumers complete purchases earlier in the browsing and researching process.

“Marketers need to leverage their existing Web infrastructure as much as possible so that mobile experiences are consistent with experiences in other channels for the consumer and the management for business is centralize and consistent for all channels – business empowerment across all channels.”

Interesting finds
There is an evolving role for the emerging mobile channel and more traditional catalog channels. In addition, there are opportunities for email marketing and the incorporating social media into consumers’ online commerce activities.

The study found that 78 percent of consumers said they use two or more channels to browse, research and make purchases, while 30 percent said they use three channels or more.

Additionally, 43 percent said they start their research online or via a mobile device, but need to call a customer service or call center representative to complete the transaction because the necessary product or service information cannot be found online.

Thirty-nine percent of consumers said they browse the online or mobile channel and make purchases in the store because they prefer to touch and feel the product and 36 percent compare several brands of the same product.

The research also shows that 78 percent of consumers say they use catalogs to browse and research products or services at least four times a year.

The survey showed that catalogs play a significant role in cross-channel browsing and researching experience for three-quarters of consumers. However, merchants must effectively link the catalog experience with other channels because more than 40 percent of consumers who look at the catalogs never purchase products or services through the catalogs.

“As mobile commerce continues to gain more popularity with marketers and consumers, it is going to become a critical piece of marketers’ business strategies,” Ms. O’Neill. “We are going to see more and more companies launching mobile Web sites and introducing applications that facilitate mobile commerce and mimic the Web user, and in-store shopper experiences.

“Consumers already expect access to their favorite brands and companies on their mobile devices, so companies that do not respond to this demand now will surely be left behind in the months and years to come,” she said.