Last month Econsultancy surveyed 2,000 consumers in the UK and 2,000 consumers in the US, to unearth attitudes to multichannel shopping and service. The survey was compiled using the TolunaQuick tool.

We found that there are a lot of similarities, but also some distinct differences in consumer behaviour in the UK and US...

Consumer demand for multichannel retail

The majority of consumers would find it useful to have a choice of retail channels, and a significant 33.5% felt this was very important.

The results were very similar for both US and UK respondents, so the charts show aggregated data. 

How important is it to be able to purchase from a retailer using different channels? 

Researching purchases online

Do you research purchases on the internet before buying them from a store? 

Use of reserve and collect services

Quite a difference between US and UK consumers, with the latter far more likely to reserve items for in-store collection. 

Many of the biggest multichannel retailers in the UK are offering this service, (Argos, John Lewis, Halfords etc) with some success. 

For example, Argos' multichannel sales grew to £1.9bn in the year up to February 26 2011, representing almost half (46%) of its total sales. The reserve and collect iPhone app accounted for 1% of total sales. 

Do you reserve products online before collecting them from an offline store? 

Use of mobiles for shopping

The use of mobile when shopping offline represents a growing challenge for retailers, as these stats show. 

US consumers are slightly more likely to use barcode scanners and compare prices via mobile, but a significant minority of US and UK respondents are using mobile as an offline shopping aid. 

Multichannel returns

The vast majority of both US and UK respondents expect to be able to return items bought online to a local store

However, as Snow Valley's recent Online Returns Report found, just half of the multichannel retailers studied allow customers to do this. 

If you buy something online, do you expect to be able to return it to a local store? 

Use of catalogues

Percentage of customers that have used catalogues at least once in the past year before buying online or in store (aggregated US and UK results).

If you'd like to see more stats from the multichannel retail survey, the US survey is here, and the UK stats are here

Graham Charlton

Published 28 June, 2011 by Graham Charlton

Graham Charlton is editor in chief at SaleCycle, and former editor at Econsultancy. Follow him on Twitter or connect via Linkedin.

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Comments (4)


Paul Blunden

Interesting findings but not surprising. It would be useful to separate our thinking of multichannel retail between the shopping phases of: research; purchase; and fulfilment. Multichannel fulfilment is becoming increasingly common (reserve and collect) but is relatively simple if a retailer has a store network. The first two stages are the ones where most get it wrong.

about 7 years ago



I am surprised at the high percentage of catalogue users still in the UK. It would be interesting to get some demographic information around the consumers surveyed. This is crucial information and I am sure how much we can learn from this without that data. Were the 2000 consumers from the same demographic pot in each country?

about 7 years ago

Graham Charlton

Graham Charlton, Editor in Chief at SaleCycle

@databroker, if you follow the links at the foot of the post, you can see details of demographics.

about 7 years ago



No surprise in the results. @databroker: I am not surprised at the % of catalogue users...some industries in the UK are still highly dependent on direct mail and drive their customers online via catalogues and promotional flyers (i.e: the DIY/ironmongery/building material trades).

about 7 years ago

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