A new study of multi-channel holiday shopping from DoubleClick Inc. shows significant growth and spending during the 2003 holiday season. The study also shows an increase in the number of online shoppers that appear to be receptive to 're-marketing' after they have abandoned an online shopping cart.
According to DoubleClick, the number of consumers who shop in multiple channels increased significantly in 2003. While retail remains the preferred channel, usage of it declined 2 percentage points from 87% in 2002 to 85% in 2003, while catalogue usage grew from 25% to 27% and internet usage grew from 64% to 66%. The number of multi-channel shoppers grew by a total of 9 percentage points from 56% to 65% (an increase of 16% year-on-year).
Most valuable customers
The multi-channel shoppers proved to be the most valuable customers, with triple-channel shoppers (those who shopped in retail, internet, and catalogue channels) being the biggest spenders at an average over US$1000 for the 2003 holiday season.
More than one-third (35%) of multi-channel shoppers reported having spent 33% more than single channel shoppers during the 2003 holiday season. While this may be reflective of the overall economic recovery, reasons cited for the increase in spending included: more people to buy for (49%), special offers or discounts (42%), economic reasons (37%), and more interesting gifts (36%).
The retail internet shopper was the most common type of multi-channel shopper in the 2003 holiday period (36% of survey respondents) followed by triple-channel shoppers (24% of respondents). Most retail internet shoppers were men.
Triple-channel shoppers tended to be women who, on average, spent 17% more than dual-channel shoppers. Multi-channel shoppers that purchased from catalogues also tended to be female (57%), whereas no gender bias was found among those who shopped at retail stores. Meanwhile, high spenders (those who spent more than US$1,000) tended to be male (56%), age 35 and up (75%), with an annual income over US$50,000 (74%).
The number of shoppers that abandoned online shopping carts due to additional costs such as shipping and handling increased from 78% in 2002 to 84% in 2003, while the number of people changing their mind about a product during their online shopping experience increased dramatically from 19% in 2002 to 32% in 2003. Separate trend research from DoubleClick's SiteAdvance product shows that for every US$1 actually sold online in the 2003 holiday season, more than US$6 was abandoned in an online shopping cart.
The positive news for online retailers was a drop in the number of people citing poorly designed or confusing shopping carts (down from 23% in 2002 to 16% in 2003). Other positive news was the number of shoppers that appeared receptive to 're-marketing', with 92% of shoppers citing free shipping as the most powerful way to lure them back to a shopping site after cart abandonment, while approximately one-third of multi-channel shoppers also said they would prefer better images and more product detail.
Some 57% of respondents reported that they browsed in one channel and purchased in another during the 2003 holiday season. Consumers who browsed on the internet most commonly switched to retail stores for purchasing (43% of multi-channel shoppers reported doing so), while 19% reported that they browsed in catalogues and then purchased in retail stores, and 16% reported browsing in a store but then purchasing online.
Reasons for channel switching varied depending on the channels involved. While catalogues appeal to shoppers for their selection, price, and convenience, the majority of multi-channel shoppers prefer to use other channels for purchasing because they are more convenient, offering the ability to see and sample the products, and because other channels are often quicker.
Retail is considered the most convenient channel with shoppers that browse online but buy in stores, with 97% citing this reason in 2003 (compared to 85% in 2002). Price was the primary reason shoppers switched from browsing in retail stores to purchasing in another channel. The internet proved most popular for speed of purchasing and the benefits of 24/7 access. Shoppers who browsed online but bought elsewhere did so mainly for convenience, to see or sample merchandise.
"The number and value of multi-channel shoppers continues to increase every year," noted Court Cunningham, senior vice president and general manager of marketing automation for DoubleClick. "Marketers must focus on identifying, targeting, and communicating with this valuable customer segment to maximise the value of their marketing and their overall profitability."
The 2003 study, directed by Beyond Interactive and conducted by Greenfield Online, was based upon the views of 1,000 consumers who were interviewed online during December 2003 and January 2004.