Retailers are facing major attitudinal challenges in sustaining customer loyalty between channels, according to the 2010 Mutlichannel Retail Report from GSI Commerce, the global full service e-commerce provider, which has polled the views of a representative sample of 2,043 British adults with research specialist Maximiles.
Consumers have little loyalty between channels The report reveals that retailers face a serious risk of customer churn in attempting to sell between channels.
When consumers were asked what their typical online response would be to finding that an item was out-of-stock on the high street, the vast majority (69%) claimed they would visit other brand’s websites to compare prices on the same product. 53 per cent would enter the product’s details into a price comparison engine and 41 per cent say they would simply type the product details into a search engine and review the results.
Crucially, just four in ten (40%) consumers claim they would simply visit the website of the retailer whose shop they had originally visited. Integrating on and offline inventory the key to conversion The data also revealed a definite opportunity for multichannel retailers to convert seemingly negative customer experiences into sales. More than eight in ten (81%) consumers claim that, if given the option, they would be likely or very likely to order an out-of-stock item online while still in the store.
Steve Davis, EVP and President International of GSI Commerce said, “If you find yourself out-of-stock and leave your customers to walk out the door and search the internet, there’s a very good chance that you’ll lose the sale to your competition.
"In a sense, having multiple channels gives retailers a fantastic opportunity to extend their shelf space on the high street. If you offer a line of five items in-store, you should make sure you also offer 20 items via your ‘online inventory’ so that, should you run out on the high street, either the customer or staff can still purchase and order the product on-the-spot.”
He added, “The cost of retail real estate is so high that it’s vital that retailer make the most every single high street interaction. By expanding the range available to the customer, multichannel retailers can simultaneously expand both their service and sales opportunities. In many cases it is even possible to reduce in-store inventory while growing customers’ selection.”
Multichannel gives healthy returns The data also indicated that there is a major potential for multichannel retailers to optimize and make savings in returns management. When consumers were asked what single biggest issue would put them off from making a repeat purchase online, 76% of consumers cited an expensive or lengthy online returns or refund procedure.
Davis explained, “It may sound negative to focus on returns rather than sales but, the fact is that this is one of biggest priorities for consumers. Retailers need to ensure they have an efficient process for letting consumers return goods purchased online in high street stores.”
“If it’s easy for a customer with an unwanted product to pop into a store and have immediate access to an alternative, it’s far more likely that they will ‘exchange’. Online they will always be most likely to demand a refund. By encouraging customers to come in-store, not only will their experience be improved but the retailer will avoid all the post and packaging costs of returns that it would either have to pick-up itself or, far worse, ask the customer to pay.”
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