How a New Consumer Behavior Study Applies to Your Company

IBM recently released a study on consumer patterns and preferences in multichannel retailing. If it is representative of all consumers (some surveys aren’t), then there are some disturbing results along with information you can use in your business.

Shoppers in the US and UK regularly switch retailers when they move across shopping channels. (46-50 percent) This means that your efforts to drive consumers into becoming multichannel customers may be rewarding your competition. This shouldn’t be a surprise, because while multichannel customers tend to be the most active, they aren’t always the most profitable. (Read Multichannel Customers May Not Be As Valuable As We Thought for more information.)

Consumers overwhelmingly prefer the combination of “Online to Store” (over 75 percent), with “Store to Online” following in a distant second (7+ percent). The survey finishes out with “Online to Call Center” at 3+ percent.

This information creates more questions than it provides answers. But that is a good thing. Asking questions is the first step to innovation.

Where do catalogs fit into the mix? According to the notes, they were included as part of the multichannel options, but there are no statistics presented in the summary of the findings.

Does this mean that you should stop mailing catalogs to your customers? Absolutely not! I guarantee that eliminating catalogs from your marketing mix will reduce your sales.

And, there was a little tidbit included about call centers. Consumers in the US spent the most money when the cross was “Online to Call Center.” So, why do I have to search for a number to call when I am shopping online?

It is because companies are looking at costs from an accounting perspective, instead of seeing the opportunities. We have all been in those meetings where the financials are presented and the focus is on one line item or department. It may be labor, shipping, or the call center. The item or area doesn’t matter, the result is the same. The manager leaves the meeting with a cost-cutting directive.

In all my experience, I have never seen the marketing department called out for their costs. If they don’t make their numbers, they are held accountable. But their costs are considered a part of doing business.

Why is this? And, should it be different? Read tomorrow’s post…

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