There’s no doubt now that multi-channel retailing is the future of shopping – but does it actually encourage consumers to spend more?

shopping spree

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‘Shopping’ has become much more than simply walking into a store. Multiple channels of retail weave in and out of each other, empowering the consumer by providing greater choice in all areas of the buying process.

But does multi-channel retail change more than simply how we shop, and actually stretch to how much we spend as well?

What Is a ‘Multi-Channel’ Consumer?

Quite simply, a ‘multi-channel’ consumer is someone who utilises multiple channels before making a purchase. It doesn’t matter how they actually buy something, but if they’ve researched/browsed on a different channel first, then they are embracing multi-channel retailing.

As technology develops, a wide range of retail channels have become available such as: online, smartphone, social media and contact centres, which work alongside the more traditional catalogues and ‘bricks and mortar’ shops. Consumers have all this information at their fingertips and can access it in the way which suits them best. So, it wouldn’t be surprising to learn that these ultra-informed and connected shoppers buy more.

How Much More do Multi-Channel Consumers Buy?

Recent research has shown that multi-channel consumers actually buy more. It seems this new way of shopping encourages customers to part with more of their money, either on larger purchases or just more purchases.

In the clothing, home and electrical sectors multi-channel consumers spend, on average, 82% more that their single-channel counterparts.

Interestingly, the sector which sees the greatest increase in spending is also the sector which is most influenced by online browsing. In the electrical sector, a whopping 62% of all purchases are multi-channel purchases and on average these multi-channel consumers spend £238 per transaction, compared to the average of £160 spent by a traditional single-channel consumer.

The electrical sector lends itself best to multi-channel retailing because unlike clothing, there is no need to try anything on, and there is less emphasis on aesthetics. Instead, consumers are interested in performance, technology and price, which are all easily researched and compared online.

Empowered and Engaged Customers

Power has shifted from the retailer to the consumer, creating the idea of ‘me-tailing’. Consumers have endless amounts of information to help them make their purchase. They can also shop anytime, anywhere and any way they choose.

Multi-channel retailing has created a buying method to suit any customer, whether they like to research online and buy in store, browse in store but buy on their smart phone, or browse in store but buy a different variation of that product online. It caters for the indecisive, the gadget-loving, the extremely busy, the keen high street shopper and the night owl internet surfer.

This shopping freedom is so popular that nearly half of those under 18 will research online before buying in store. It seems the future generation of consumers have embraced multiple channels and expect no less from retailers.

How Does This Lead To Increased Spending?

Multi-channel consumers are more engaged and better informed. They know the products; they’ve seen them online and in store, read reviews and guides, so when it comes to actually making a purchase, they are confident that they’ve made the right choice. This confidence leads to them either buying more or choosing something more expensive, because they’ve seen the benefits.

Also, because the multi-channel shopping experience is tailored to suit each customer’s individual needs, shopping is easier, and even more enjoyable. This positive shopping experience encourages consumers to buy more because it never seems like a chore.

If a potential customer has taken the time to visit your store, browse your site, social media and even read your catalogue, this customer is much more engaged in your business and your brand. If they don’t buy from you this time, they are likely to in the future.

What Does this Mean For Retailers?

The idea of customers in your store comparing your prices and products to potentially better deals elsewhere may be worrying, but with smartphones and readily available internet in every store, it is highly likely to happen.

However, multi-channel retail is about much more than price (although price will always be a strong factor). In addition to price, consumers want: choice, the right shopping experience, a trusted brand, good returns policy, information and resources as well as reasonable delivery costs.

If you can offer all of this, whilst providing a cohesive multichannel retail experience, you have nothing to fear from the multi-channel retail revolution – and in fact, you should be rejoicing! Studies have shown that businesses which embrace multi-channel retail are more likely to be successful.

In many ways, the effects of multi-channel retail are similar to that of advertising, the more you see something, the more you become aware of it, and the more likely you are to consider buying it. Simply, the more you look, the more you want, and multi-channel consumers look more and as a result buy more.

Why do you think multi-channel consumers buy more? What do you think is the key to success with multi-channel business? Share your thoughts below.