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Hard-up consumers go multichannel in search of better prices

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Cash-strapped shoppers are discovering the savings to be made through multichannel shopping, new research suggests.

Kantar Media Compete’s Online Shopper Intelligence report found that between July and September 2011, seven out 10 online shoppers (69%) researched a product in a shop before buying. But 67% then turned online when it came time to purchase – in search of better prices.

“While the cost of living is increasing year-on-year it is no surprise that many consumers are choosing to research carefully where the best savings can be made,” said John Thekanady, client services director at Kantar Media Compete UK. “If that means visiting a shop to research a product but then purchasing it online to save money, then it shows that UK shoppers are becoming savvier, perhaps out of necessity.”

This is important for marketers to know, he said, because it demonstrates the need for integrated offline and online strategies in order “to maintain relevance with consumers, or they could lose out on vital sales.”

Groceries were the largest expense, costing the average UK online shopper £329 over the three months. They spent £254, on average, on furniture and home furnishings, £169 on electronics, £104 on clothing and £101 on kitchenware and household appliances. Some 40% of internet buyers bought online at least once a week, and more than half said they appreciated the flexibility and convenience of 24-hour ecommerce shopping.

The choice of retail sites visited also suggested that buyers were in search of a bargain, with eBay the second most visited website. The study found that 63% of the survey respondents visited Amazon.co.uk during the three months, 58% went to eBay.co.uk, and 34% to Tesco.com. Just under a third (30%) went to Argos.co.uk and 19% to Asda.com.

In all, 1,500 people responded to the research. Kantar Media Compete also tracked their behaviour to provide a snapshot of UK online shoppers that is launched this month and will run quarterly.

Our view: Recession has proved a shaping force in the development of ecommerce. This study seems to show that while shoppers are going online to benefit from lower prices, they also still see the store as vital to their research. The challenge for multichannel retailers, therefore, is to find inventive ways of making sure that shoppers are researching in their store and buying online on their site.

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