Retailers say that home shoppers spend more if they shop off-line rather than online. And which are more loyal?
Do home shoppers who shop off-line (for example, using a catalogue on CD Rom) spend more than those who shop online? Decidedly so, say Unipower Solutions Europe Ltd. According to its customers, consumers who shop off-line spend up to 20% more than if shopping online. Possible reasons include that they spend more time browsing because they are not concerned about running up a telephone bill, and that they are not interrupted by service or network issues. And, having a specific retailer's catalogue actually installed on your home computer - an icon on the desktop - must certainly be an incentive to go back there next time..
The Tesco connection
Unipower Solutions product, the Transactional Catalogue Solution, is currently being used by Tesco in the UK, Esselunga in Italy and Superquinn in Ireland. In fact, the Tesco connection is an interesting one. Tesco's home shopping service is one of, if not the most successful supermarket home shopping services in the world. It is exporting its home shopping experience and knowledge across the Atlantic in a joint home shopping venture with Safeway in the US.
James Pemberton, Unipower Solutions Europe's marketing manager, told The Wise Marketer that when Tesco began its home shopping venture in 1997, home shopping via the internet was still in its relative infancy, so the CD-Rom route was the obvious choice, and Unipower's solution was adopted by Tesco. Only later did the service move towards the internet.
Leading Irish Supermarket chain, Superquinn, gives customers the choice when they join up for home shopping: via internet or CD-Rom. And according to a manager in Superquinn's e-commerce department, Keith Harford: "We have in the region of 20,000 registered on-line users and 49% of those are using the off-line Transactional Catalogue option. Customers using this option benefit from cheaper telephone costs and faster shopping as they are using data held on their own PCs and are not dependent on the vagaries of the Internet. From Superquinn's point of view we have found those customers using the off-line Transactional Catalogue are purchasing more frequently and spending more."
Using a CD (or if circumstances warrant it, by downloading it via the internet), users install a replica of the retailer's web store on the hard disk of their own home PC. When they have browsed and done their shopping, they connect via the internet to the retailer's web site, transmit their order and download any updates on products and promotions. According to Unipower's CEO, Adrian King, recent research shows that 40% of internet sales come from shoppers who have already consulted a catalogue.