According to the Consumer Barometer, 25% of UK customers now research for gifts, flowers and greeting cards purely online. It’s still not as high as the number of consumers who researched their purchases offline only (35%) or not at all (30%) but it is significant. 22% of UK customers made their purchase online, compared to 78% who purchased offline. This research is from IAB Europe (in partnership with TNS Infratest and Google) in 2012.
Irish customers made 11% of their purchases online and 89% offline. See the full interactive data at Consumer Barometer. What’s really interesting is that 6% of people who purchased online, researched offline only. That means the majority of people who purchase gifts, flowers and greeting cards online also do something known as “showrooming” – visit stores to check what they might like to purchase and then make the purchase online.
If you run a retail outlet, it is imperative that you are aware of this consumer behaviour. Make the links between your retail outlets and your online presence seamless. Make sure customers are aware that you have a website and that the website is easy to find online, offers a seamless user experience and that the shopping cart process is fast and fluid.
Educate your store staff to mention your website and print your web address on your receipts and other point of sale materials (even the shopping bag itself).
There can be an issue when retail stores have individual targets and bonuses which don’t get met if a customer uses the store to explore the products and then purchases the products online. But if you want to encourage the customer to purchase from you rather than from a competitor, having a holistic approach to all your sales channels is really important. Use incentives and training to ensure your store staff feels part of the bigger picture.
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