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Multichannel is the way to buy for most Britons: study

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Multichannel is now firmly established as the way to buy for most UK shoppers, new research has found. But the study, carried out for Melbourne IT DBS, also suggests that consumers who research offline before going online find it easy to get lost or distracted in their search for a product. New ‘.brand’ domain names could provide the solution, the company said.

A poll of more than 2,000 UK consumers, carried out by YouGov for the digital brand specialist, found that 60% of Britons now shop online at least once a month, while 77% research products on the high street before going online to find a better price.

But it seems that many of us may be distracted in our online search for a specific product, with some 52% admitting they ended up on a different website from the one they intended to visit. That’s because while 25% said they remembered the web address they had seen advertised and so went straight to a company website, 60% used a search engine to try to find the product instead and often got sidetracked along the way. When they get sidetracked to a competitor’s or even a counterfeit website the value of the original promotion is lost.

Stuart Durham, Melbourne IT DBS’ European sales director, said: “If brands can strengthen the direct link between their offline marketing spend and their online stores to increase the number of consumers going straight to their sites, it could make a big difference to revenue. Simple, memorable, branded internet domain names that allow consumers to bypass the search engines and go direct to the site would deliver that benefit.”

Trust, revealed the study, is a big issue for online consumers. Some 51% said it was difficult to differentiate between websites selling genuine goods and fake items, while 83% said online brands should take action to help consumers tell the difference. The good news, says Durham, is that that action will soon be available to brands, who will soon be able to apply for their own product or company name as a .’brand’ domain name such as, for example, cameras.canon.

“A .brand has the potential to create significant benefits for marketers, “ he said, “including memorable domains for increased direct navigation by consumers, shorter domains for mobile web users, and an indisputable mark of trust for those consumers looking for reassurance they are buying authentic goods online.”

Jonathan Freeman, senior lecturer in psychology at Goldsmiths University of London, has been studying online consumer behaviour for more than a decade. He said: “Brand based domain names provide a much more direct index and, as a result, they should be much easier for consumers to remember.

“I imagine the concept should be very attractive to brand owners who want consumers to use their web address. Using the new approach will make direct access to websites feel as intuitive and natural as typing the company or product name into a search engine, but with the benefit that consumers will know exactly where they will get to.”

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