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How shopper behaviour is changing online and across sales channels

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How is shoppers' behaviour changing? That's the question asked by a pair of new studies out this week, whose findings include the ideas that most purchases worth more than £20 are now made online, and that consumers are now more than ready to buy through social media.

Shopper marketing agency Savvy asked 1,000 UK shoppers how they research and buy across channels, and found that the more expensive a product the more likely it was that they would buy online, and that they would consult more than one source during the course of research. The study concluded that some 53% of products bought for more than £20 are bought online for home delivery, and 8% online to collect in store. Meanwhile, 39% of these more expensive products are bought in store.

It also found shoppers spending more than £20 on an item would consult 2.2 sources, on average, with the number increasing along with the price of the product. Some 51% of shoppers visit retail sites during the course of this research, while 49% visit stores to carry out their research and 22% visit the product manufacturer's website. Some 17% of those visited blogs during the course of their checks, while 6% turned to social media.

“Increasingly media rich retailer websites, the rise of social media and more flexible delivery options are making online shopping more and more compelling for shoppers to use for both researching and buying products," said Alastair Lockhart, Savvy insight director. "Spending plans span both online and stores, as well as overlapping between them – shoppers have become channel-agnostic and are prolific in their use of each and all. Smartphones too play an important role, particularly amongst younger shoppers.”

The study also found that young shoppers, aged between 18 and 34, currently represent 31% of all UK consumers, and that 90% of them have bought online in the last six months, while 93% own a smartphone. Finally, demand for rich media content was illustrated by the statistic that 90% of shoppers buying clothing wanted 360 degree images of products, 88% want to zoom in on fabrics and 60% want video content, such as catwalk shows, featuring the products.

Meanwhile, commerce marketing specialist Bronto asked about social commerce in its Are we ready to use the social 'buy' button? study and found that 32% of UK consumers were now willing to shop on social media, spending an average of £55.68 on an item. That suggests, it said, a potential £900m marketplace for social commerce. The survey, run by polling company YouGov, questioned 2,098 UK adults on their willingness to buy via social platforms which now have buy buttons.

"The time for social commerce in the UK has most certainly arrived," said Georges Berzgal, managing director Europe of Bronto Software. "While many retailers may choose to wait until this new channel grows beyond the early adopters, a potential £900m marketplace is something brands shouldn’t overlook. While it’s no surprise that younger age groups are more active on social media, there is also ample opportunity to target households with children and those aged 35-44 years old. The key to success for UK retailers will be to begin testing the waters now, before they miss the boat and lose ground to more socially aware competitors.”

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