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Omnichannel strategy pays off

News, 04 June 2015

ATLANTA: US consumers are increasingly keen on click and collect, and for the retailers involved there is the bonus that around half of customers have made an additional in-store purchase when collecting the online buy, a new study has shown.

The Pulse of the Online Shopper from logistics business UPS assessed consumer shopping habits from pre-purchase to post-delivery, based on a comScore survey of 5,118 US online shoppers.

While the home remains the default option for shipping online purchases, 33% preferred to have packages delivered elsewhere, up from 26% in a similar survey last year. And when they're not at home to sign for a package, 32% wanted it shipped to a convenient retail location.

Overall, 48% of online shoppers said they had shipped items to the store, with 45% of those saying they made additional purchases when picking up their orders.

"The interest of people picking up in-store is going up, and it's likely to go up next year," Bala Ganesh, UPS's retail director, told the Wall Street Journal, adding that many retailers "incentivise free ship-to-store to drive traffic to the store."

The cost of shipping is a bugbear for consumers for whom better prices are the number one reason for shopping online: 57% cited this, ahead of the 49% who mentioned the wide selection available.

Most also prefer to make returns in-store (61%) rather than ship the product back (39%). And once again retailers stand to benefit as, when making an in-store return, 70% of online shoppers purchased an additional item compared to only 42% who did so while processing an online return.

"The store's a lot easier, because you go in, you give it back, you get your refund right away and you can look around and just buy something else," Ganesh said. "It just seems like it's a lot more convenient, and once you go in, the likelihood of you buying something with an immediate refund is pretty high."

Mobile is an area where retailers need to improve, as more consumers are using this device for research and purchase. But 38% who have a mobile device but did not use it to make purchases said product images were not large or clear enough, and 30% said it was hard to compare products.

Data sourced from UPS, Wall Street Journal; additional content by Warc staff