A recent blog post from Forrester Research’s Gina Sverdlov highlights the importance of multiple channels and digital in the path to purchase for today’s consumers. This work is further evidence of the observation that the space in which consumers shop and look for shopping information today is distributed across online and offline touchpoints. This creates both challenges and opportunities for retailers and marketers – if they can analyze and link these experiences, then they will earn the business of these informed consumers. Otherwise, someone will else will get their business!

Some highlights from the report, which is based on a survey of more than 4,500 US online consumers:

· Super Buyers are the most connected shoppers and buy from many channels: online, offline, and mobile. Super Buyers like to mix and match their shopping by either researching online and buying offline or vice versa.
· Connected Traditionalists do most of their shopping online on a computer or in an offline store.
· Traditionalists are the largest segment; they do most of their shopping in-store — although they are also shopping online on a computer. This group has the lowest uptake of tablets and smartphones.

A report just released today by Corinne Munchbach and Tracy Stokes, The Role of Digital in the Path to Purchase, shares further insight: For product research, most shoppers embrace mature digital channels, only few have adopted emerging channels like social media and mobile. But the physical store remains the dominant channel for the average consumer to buy.

So what does this mean for companies and marketers? They need to understand their customer dynamics and offer shopping options that meet their needs — like “buy online, pick up in-store” and mobile shopping options for Super Buyers; consistent multichannel experiences for Connected Traditionalists; and knowledgeable in-store staff for Traditionalists.

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