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Online Content from Omnichannel Retailers Drives Consumer Purchases Across Channels

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Online content from omnichannel retailers is becoming more influential and driving purchase decisions across all channels, including social media, according to a new study conducted by Acquity Group.

Online content is king for purchasing across channels, the report notes.

Consumers want a shopping experience that ties all of a retailer’s digital and in-store elements together. In fact, 46% of smartphone owners indicated they would purchase more online if there was a more consistent user experience across channels.

According to the study:

  • 78% of smartphone owners have looked up a retailers inventory online prior to visiting the physical store
  • 59% have been influenced to make an in-store purchase decision after browsing product images and information on a smartphone
  • 73% would be more likely to purchase from a brand that provides editorial content (social updates, news, or email) that is relevant and interesting to them
  • 32% have not yet purchased products posted on social media, but would be open to trying it. Another 16% have already purchased items after being influenced by social media posts

Acquity Group, a leading global Brand ecommerce and digital marketing agency now part of Accenture Interactive, conducted the study, “Desktop vs. Smartphone: Technology’s Impact on Omnichannel Behavior.”

The study surveyed more than 1,500 smartphone owners to evaluate the importance of price, convenience, product availability, coupons, customer service, and loyalty programs while shopping in-store, online, on a smartphone, and through social media.

Consumers want organization and simplicity when purchasing via mobile, the study found.

  • Of the respondents who have made a purchase via mobile, 83% say convenience is the number one reason they’ve done so
  • Of the respondents who have not previously made a purchase via mobile, 41% would be more likely to make a purchase via their smartphone if the website were optimized for smartphone use
  • 44% of smartphone owners say mobile website organization is the most important aspect of a good smartphone experience

Shopping preferences differ across all channels, but loyalty programs are universally the least important decision-maker, according to the study. What’s more, shopping preferences for smartphone owners rank differently across channels. Price was less important while shopping on mobile vs. online (on a desktop/laptop) and customer service was most important while shopping in store. Overall, loyalty programs were the least important factor to customers regardless of channel.

Shopping preferences differ by generation.

Overall, the study confirmed assumed generational shopping behaviors in-store, online, via mobile, and through social media.

  • Younger consumers are most likely to remain loyal to a brand or retailer (across channels) based on price, while older consumers are most likely to remain loyal because of customer service.
  • Across generations, most respondents make frequent online purchases (two times or more per month) from laptop or desktop computers.
  • Smartphone owners aged 26-45 are the most likely (73%) to have made a purchase via their smartphones.
  • Across all generations, convenience is rated the most important factor when making a purchase via smartphone

Free in-store Wi-Fi is a worthy investment for retailers, the study shows.

Consumers feel they would be more confident making a major purchase when free in-store Wi-Fi is available and would also be more likely to make additional purchases while in store: 

  • 50% of smartphone owners would feel more confident making a major purchase with the ability to research in store
  • 30% would be more likely to browse additional items not on their list
  • 20% would spend longer in store

Chip Knicker, vice president of ecommerce at Acquity Group, said in a press release that in-store Wi-Fi not only allows retailers to keep consumers in-store longer, making them more likely to purchase, but also helps tie in the consistent user experience across channels that today’s consumers expect.

“The frequency of mobile and online purchases will clearly increase as retailers expand their mobile content and capabilities,” Knicker said. “In addition, our study shows the willingness of respondents to purchase products promoted through social media channels. In the end, driving purchase activity is directly related to the abundance of relevant, customer-focused content brands provide that connects online, in-store and social media experiences.”

Loyalty programs, once regarded as important to gaining and retaining customers, have been shown to be the least important when up against the time-honored factors of price, convenience, product availability and customer service, all of which can be delivered through a seamless omnichannel experience, Knicker added.

“It is clear brands that don’t align their experiences with evolving consumer expectations will miss out on revenue opportunities,” Knicker said.

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