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The global edition of our Internet Statistics Compendium saw a bumper update this month, collecting some of the most interesting freely accessible data published about all things digital – including social media, mobile and ecommerce.
One area which I think is particularly deserving of our analytical curiosity is multichannel commerce, and PwC’s recent report on the subject is excellent reading at a time when shopping across offline and online internationally is still a relatively mysterious beast.
Demystifying the online shopper: 10 myths of multichannel retailing takes in data from North America, Brazil, UK, Switzerland, France, Germany, Netherlands, Turkey, Russia and China. It finds that multichannel habits can vary considerably depending on where people are located and what they are buying.
Across all of the countries mentioned above, we are seeing an increasing number of multichannel and online-only sellers becoming favourites alongside traditional retailers.
55% of those who have ever shopped online say they have bought items from between two and five online-only retailers, and 42% have made purchases from the same number of multichannel retailers.
Social media is also a big part of the multichannel experience. Though, rather than shifting purchases from offline to online, those who are engaged with retailers via social channels tend to buy more across all channels – with physical stores winning biggest.
While online shopping is certainly on the up globally, the reasons people do shop online can vary significantly from country to country.
For example, in Brazil 75% of online consumers consider prices and deals as the most important factors which attract them to e-commerce. Alternatively, convenience is the biggest draw for 61% of Dutch online shoppers.
When it comes to multichannel sellers, the assumption has been that domestic brands will dominate national markets. However, PwC find that this is not necessarily the case, with China, Brazil and Turkey all seeing several international multichannel retailers within their Top 10s.
Different products stimulate different multichannel journeys
There are also some interesting trends to be seen when looking at the multichannel journeys consumers make across product categories.
Perhaps unexpectedly, books and music products see the highest percentage (around 60%) of shoppers conducting both their research and purchases online. However, electrical goods prove quite different, with around 25% researching online and buying in store – a nearly equal proportion to those who make their entire shopping journey online.
As PwC highlights, there are many assumptions that have been made about what multichannel means for traditional retailers and those who are selling online-only.
When looking at worldwide trends, the value of social media for boosting purchases made offline should inspire retailers to ensure their social presence is to a standard which is reflected when consumers enter their physical stores.
Additionally, global multichannel retailers should be enthused by the success of those competing with big domestic names in certain countries. Yet, retailers also need to be aware of more specific shopping habits among consumers of certain products, with some being better-suited to online research / online purchase journeys and others which are initially explored online, but finally bought in-person.