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Shoppers prefer retailers to reach them through their own channels rather than social media – but want a choice when they want to get in touch: study 

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Shoppers prefer to hear from retailers and brands through their own channels – from a retail website to email – rather than over social media, a new study suggests. However, they also want a choice when they want to get in touch.

Fresh Relevance questioned 2,000 UK adults online for its Connecting the cross-channel customer experience report and found that more than half did not want to hear from brands over social media, starting with TikTok (58%) and Twitter (56%) and followed by WhatsApp (53%), Facebook (53%), Instagram (53%) and YouTube (53%). When asked how they would like to be contacted, more than a third (35%) said they’d like to receive an email, and more than a quarter (27%) would prefer to see them on the retailer’s website, followed by a physical store (29%), app (27%) and via Google (20%).

Mike Austin, chief executive and co-founder of Fresh Relevance, says: “Social media can be a very powerful channel to increase brand awareness and engage with your customer base. But our research suggests that retailers need to be smart in how they use it. While respondents told us that they’re not interested in promotional content, they want to be able to use social media to reach out to brands as a communication channel.”

Austin adds: “Consumers prefer to receive promotional messages on channels that are owned by the retailer, such as email, website, store and app. This is good news for businesses who might have to cut back on paid media spend at the moment.”

Shopper used an average of two sales channels when they bought, while those aged between 16 and 34 used three. Across the age groups, 63% interact with at least two channels. Almost a quarter (24%) of respondents said being able to see the contents of their online shopping basket across more than one channel – for example, a retailer’s website and app – would make it more likely they would buy. Just over a fifth (22%) said they were more likely to buy from a retailer showing tailored content such as product recommendations. And 29% said they would be more likely to buy from a retailer that shows in-store availability local to them for products they view online. One in five (21%) want to be able to contact retailers through a number of channels – such as email, social media or live chat – and 23% would like to see details of their loyalty scheme profiles across channels. 

Meanwhile, key frustrations are centred around a lack of convenience. More than a quarter (28%) find it frustrating when they see an online ad for a product, click on it and can’t find the product they’re interested in on the website the ad takes them to. A quarter (25%) dislike being sent a coupon code but not seeing that code on the retailer’s website, while 21% of consumers find it frustrating when a retailer shows them online ads for products that they’ve purchased already.

“It’s no secret that consumers want a personalised experience,” says Austin. “But retailers can fall into the trap of working with incomplete data and for example, personalise based on insights from one single channel. For an effective personalisation strategy, it is vital for companies to join up customer data from all touchpoints, such as the website, app, and in-store, to tailor marketing tactics to those omnichannel customer profiles.” 

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