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Retail reasons to be cheerful

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Multichannel shoppers are giving high street retailers cause for optimism, according to new analysis.

Experian has found that significant groups of consumers are now choosing to shop across channels, researching products online, testing them in store before checking prices on their phone.

This is a trend, it warns, that retailers need to be aware of and to respond to.

“There are great opportunities out there for retailers who can capitalize on changes in consumer behaviour, wherever they are located,” said Nigel Wilson, Experian’s managing director of marketing information services in the UK and Ireland.

“Shoppers still love walking into a store but they are increasingly searching the internet, smartphones and social media before buying. Retailers ignoring this do so at their peril.”

The analysis, carried out for Experian by Research Now, which mapped the shopping behaviour of 2,000 consumers using Experian’s people classificiation tool Mosaic, shows 31% of the UK population shops across channels and one in 10 uses their mobile instore to check the price of goods before deciding whether to buy.

Multichannel shopping behaviour is concentrated within greater London, where the top 15 hotspots are to be found, starting with Southall, where 66.3% of residents have shopped across channels. The area is followed by Harrow, Wimbledon Village, Richmond and East Sheen. Outside London, the analysis found that 54% of Hove’s population were ‘multichannel mavens’, followed by Slough, Reading, Oxford and Edinburgh.

The study classified multichannel shoppers in four categories. Those from the ‘informed independence’ group tend to live with their children in family houses and, with wealth tied up in property, put a priority on finding the best product in the right place. ‘Forensic fact finders’ are young families, often overstretched on credit, who are looking for functionality, reliability and value. ‘Mobile movers’ are home-sharing young and single professionals, looking for information through their mobile phones rather than through direct mail, and who will be looking for information about a new area that they have moved into. Finally, ‘city clickers’ research products and mange their finances online but are less likely to shop online because of the difficulties entailed by waiting in for online deliveries.

Wilson said: “Although multichannel shoppers tend to share some characteristics, our research shows they are clearly defined groups. This has a real impact for marketers to understand the best channels to reach each section and if high street retailers want to thrive, they need to increase their flexibility and reach across all channels.”

The research also found social media played some part in multichannel shoppers’ buying decisions but that there was a definite group of urbanized, limited income shoppers whose buying choices were dictated by social media, and for whom social networking was a way of life.

Experian’s top five tips for retailers

Knowledge is power. Never underestimate how much consumers know about the performance and price of your products.

Join the channels up. Make sure on and offline marketing is a consistent experience, multi-channel users will purchase across both channels.

Incentivise consumers in the right places. Know where and what consumers respond to best.

Embrace the power of social media. Use friends networks such as Facebook to drive consumers to on and offline locations

Make it mobile. Create an app to help them find you on the go.

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