Sterling Commerce‘s annual survey of multi-channel customer behaviour, conducted in four countries by Ipsos Mori, has found that stores still hold the key.
The survey found that considerable revenue opportunities lie in offering the ability to order out-of-stock products, with 72% of respondents stating that it is vital or useful for in-store staff to be able to order out-of-stock products and have them delivered to their home or local store.
Across the three retail segments surveyed (apparel, consumer electronics and DVDs/books/music) the results were highest for consumer electronics with 81% of consumers across all countries expecting this service.
“With promotions increasing in frequency to encourage consumers to continue spending, retailers are experiencing ‘out-of-stock’ more frequently,” says David Hogg at Sterling Commerce. “However, cross channel consumers are much more comfortable with the idea of the store ordering products currently out-of-stock rather than walking away empty handed to a competitor’s store. Retailers therefore need to be sure that they are using the correct technology to capture these demands and provide a fundamental revenue-boosting opportunity.”
The research also highlighted additional opportunities for retailers to draw their customers into their stores. For example:
- When shopping online, 16% of consumers across all countries choose to click-and-collect. This result was highest in the apparel sector, with an average of 24% wanting online apparel orders to be delivered to the store where customers can collect them at their convenience.
- A third of consumers (33%) who choose to buy online stated that the most convenient method of return for any unwanted or faulty items is to return them in-store, where it’s possible they can go on to make replacement purchases.
“Although most retailers now offer a multi-channel platform to consumers, it’s important to be aware of all trends in cross channel purchasing and returns,” added Hogg. “We are seeing a trend towards online shopping, but revenue opportunities still lie within the store, as in-store staff can convert returns into in-store purchases rather than a refund, or order replacement items that appear out-of-stock online.
“In these tighter economic times, it is more important than ever that retailers focus on customer loyalty and maximise all revenue opportunities by offering options such as click-and-collect and in-store returns. The financial loss of not offering these is something that no retailer can risk,” he concluded.