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What do customers want in a multichannel experience and how will technology help deliver it in 2014?

Customers don’t always know what it is they want, but by looking at current habits, themes will undoubtedly emerge.

Walker Sands has recently surveyed 1,000 US consumers on the future of retail. The results are interesting and give some pointers to retailers hoping to stay on consumer trend for buying habits.

Here are the best bits:

Don’t ignore the winds of change. Even if they’re aren’t blowing in your sector

What have you purchased this year online?

If you’re selling luxury goods, perhaps you don’t need to optimise your ecommerce offering as quickly as the electronics or clothing retailers out there. That’s not to say there won’t be opportunities online, just that you’ve got a precious window to learn from the pioneers.

Consumers love Amazon. You must offer something different.

What wouldn’t you buy on Amazon?

As you can see from this chart, Amazon does well in most markets. In fact, 40% of respondents would purchase anything from Amazon.

To compete with this behemoth you need to match it or surpass it when it comes to customer experience and the post-sale.

Free and easy returns are a big part of this. 60% of UK consumers will not even consider making a fashion purchase online unless they can return unwanted items without being charged.

What would make you more likely to purchase products online?

Free returns and exchanges is almost as important to Walker Sands’ respondents as free shipping.

Free shipping opens consumer wallets

A higher percentage of consumers will spend over $500 if free shipping is included. This difference is even more marked at the $1,000 price point.

Personalisation is welcomed online

44% agree or strongly agree that product display should be tailored based on previous customer behaviour.

With ecommerce platforms and some specialised SAASs increasingly allowing this kind of personalisation, this should certainly be a goal for online retailers operating with a large enough product range in 2014.

Social is established, I’m afraid

Three of every five respondents had interacted with a brand on social media. It’s now indisputably an important channel for content, information and customer service.

55% of respondents say YouTube has also influenced a purchase at least once.

It’s worth remembering that a lot of consumers still engage on social media with the intention of taking advantage of coupons and offers (78% of respondents had done so).

The move to rental

Rental here includes the notion of subscription services. Growth is projected in many sectors, with young audiences being the quickest to adapt to idea of subscription rather than straight-up ownership.

Of course, many subjects aren’t suitable for subscription, but if other industry can lend a lesson, it’s to keep abreast of any changes in operating or pricing model by your competitor.

New retail experiences are now more readily experienced by consumers. 70% of suvey respondents said they would try 3D printing clothing instead of buying the product newly made.

Payment methods are evolving

It’s clear this survey’s respondents were cash light:

  • 62% had less than $20 on them.
  • 43% hadn’t used cash in the last three days.
  • 5% never use cash.

Despite this lack of cash, only 8% are using mobile wallets. This indicates plastic still dominates and perhaps the most pressing development in store is moving to contactless payment in the FMCG sector. 

What other changes will be cemented as best practice next year?

Ben Davis

Published 10 December, 2013 by Ben Davis @ Econsultancy

Ben Davis is a senior writer at Econsultancy. He lives in Manchester, England. You can contact him at ben.davis@econsultancy.com, follow at @herrhuld or connect via LinkedIn.

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Comments (1)


Molly J.

It was surprising to see luxury goods as one of the least frequently purchased items online. It seems that face-to-face, in person customer care beats out the often impersonal online buying experience. The tips mentioned in your post are excellent for almost any company looking to advance an ecommerce presence. We work primarily in the B2B space and are excited to see consumer ecommerce tips applied in this space.

almost 3 years ago

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