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Last month Econsultancy surveyed 1,000 consumers in the UK and 1,000 in the US to investigate attitudes to multichannel shopping and service.

The Multichannel Retail Survey, which accompanies our How the Internet can Save the High Street report, was a repeat of a study we ran last year and underlines the fact that attitudes to shopping are changing.

We have already blogged some of the results, which found that 32% of UK consumers have made a purchase using their mobile, and you can read results from the 2011 survey here.

Here is a summary of some of the other findings from the 2012 survey, which was compiled using TolunaQuick...

Consumer demand for multichannel retail

A majority of consumers said they would find it useful to have a choice of retail channels, with 40% of respondents in the UK saying it was very important.

Aggregated survey results from 2011 show that 33.5% of respondents from the US and UK said this was ‘very important’.

Q. How important is it to be able to purchase from a retailer from different channels e.g. in a store, by mobile, online?

If you break the data down by age you can see that the younger the respondent the more likely they are to see the ability to purchase from a retailer from different channels as very important.

Q. How important is it to be able to purchase from a retailer from different channels e.g. in a store, by mobile, online? (charted by age)

Researching purchases online

In this survey, respondents were asked if they research purchases online before buying from a local store. Most respondents sometimes or always research purchases before buying.

Only 4% and 6% in the UK and US respectively never use the internet before an offline purchase.

Q. Do you research purchases on the internet before buying from a local store?

Reaction to a store not stocking a product

We asked respondents what course of action they take if a store doesn’t have the product they are looking for, which revealed that people were most likely to remain offline and look for the product at another local store if this occurred, followed by searching online when they got home.

Only 5% of UK consumers said that they would turn to their mobile to try and find the product, with a similar response in the US.

Q. If the store doesn’t have the product you are looking for, which of the following would you do?

In contrast, last year’s survey found that respondents were more likely to go online when they got home to search for the product.

Q. If the store doesn’t have the product you are looking for, which of the following would you do? (2011 results charted for comparison)

Use of reserve and collect

Big multichannel retailers in the UK have successfully been using reserve and collect services to increase sales, notably Argos’ “Check and Reserve” service, which accounted for 29% of Argos’ £819m sales in Q1 2012.

However the data shows that the service is far less popular with US consumers, with nearly half (46%) saying they have never used it.

Multichannel returns

The vast majority of both US and UK respondents expect to be able to return items bought online to a local store, a statistic which hasn’t changed since last year’s survey.

Q. If you buy something online from a retailer do you expect to be able to return it to a local store?

Use of catalogues

The use of catalogues before an online or offline purchase is still prevalent in the UK and US, with the majority of respondents in the UK (56%) and US (51%) having used catalogues at least once in the past year before a purchase.

Q. How often do you use catalogues before buying online or in store?

Flag image taken from gavjof's flickr stream

David Moth

Published 26 September, 2012 by David Moth @ Econsultancy

David Moth is Editor and Head of Social at Econsultancy. You can follow him on Twitter or connect via Google+ and LinkedIn

1683 more posts from this author

Comments (4)

Avatar-blank-50x50

Greg Felgate

This is a story about multichannel, yet you have only used one channel (online) to compile the data. If you conducted the same survey out on the street, or in a shopping centre, or door to door, you would get very different results.

While the data might prove useful in pitches to highlight the need for multichannel, the results aren't really of any use. Sorry.

Its a shame because I am sure the point that consumers attitudes to shopping is a valid one, but it can't be proven by only asking people who use the internet.

about 4 years ago

Graham Charlton

Graham Charlton, Editor in Chief at ClickZ Global

@Greg I see what you're saying, but I don't think you can discount the validity of the stats just because the survey was conducted online.

Let's face it, more than 85% of the UK population use the interent, so this is still a very significant sample. Of course, it does skew towards existing net users, but internet penetration is only going to grow in future.

In addition, this 85% that use the internet are the shoppers that brands reading this survey are targeting with mobile commerce and multichannel marketing

Also, we conducted the exact same survey last year, so we are able to see trends towards things like greater use of mobiles for shopping.

For example, the number of people that have made a purchase on their mobiles has increased from 13% in 2011 to 25% this year.

Here's last year's survey:

http://econsultancy.com/uk/blog/7712-multichannel-retail-survey

about 4 years ago

Avatar-blank-50x50

Sheppard

"Let's face it, more than 85% of the UK population use the interent, so this is still a very significant sample."

Just wondering where you are you getting that stat from? Stats as off the end of Dec 2011 show 84.1% UK penetration of the internet and this doesn't mean they all use it regularly, far from it:
http://www.internetworldstats.com/europa.htm#uk

"In addition, this 85% that use the internet are the shoppers that brands reading this survey are targeting with mobile commerce and multichannel marketing"

Of that 85% a huge proportion will be children or elderly people who fall outside of the target audience for these commercial entities surely?

Whilst the article is quite interesting, and I think the survey is valid (to a point), playing fast a loose with 'statistics' doesn't seem to stand up to scrutiny, unless you can actually substantiate these. Would be interesting to see these statistics you are quoting.

about 4 years ago

Graham Charlton

Graham Charlton, Editor in Chief at ClickZ Global

@Sheppard, no-one is playing fast and loose with stats. The methodology, the demographics, last year's stats etc are all there to see in the full survey, which you can download (free) via the link in the post.

I'm out and about, so can't check now, but I think I used ONS stats for that 85% figure. I don't see that one percent either way changes my point a great deal.

That 85% may well include children and elderly, but are they not target markets? Do the elderly not shop online? Do we not buy things for our children online, or reserve them to collect offline?

All this is beside the point to a certain extent. The survey shows, among other things, that the use of mobile as a multichannel shopping aid is growing rapidly (of course, there are other reports which show this) and that so many people research products online for offline purchase that the internet is a vital tool for offline businesses.

about 4 years ago

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