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