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Consumers expect consistency between various shopping channels, study finds

BY Alaric DeArment

NEW YORK — If any proof was needed of the importance of omnichannel, it can be seen in a new survey of U.S. consumers.

The survey, by management consulting company Accenture, polled 750 consumers and analyzed how top retailers operate across multiple sales channels. Forty-nine percent of respondents said the best thing retailers could do to improve the shopping experience was better integrate in-store, online and mobile channels, while 89% said it was important for retailers to let them pick what they considered the most convenient means of shopping, regardless of sales channel.

Despite the growth of e-commerce, 94% of survey participants said they found in-store shopping easy, compared with 74% who said the same about online shopping and only 26% who said so about mobile phone shopping.

Consumers also place high importance on consistency, with 73% expecting a retailer’s online pricing to be the same as in-store pricing, and 61% expecting a retailer’s online and in-store promotions to be the same, but while 73% of retailers offer identical promotions online and in the store, only 16% offer the same prices online as in the store, and 19% offer the same product assortment.

"Seamlessness is a tall order for most traditional retailers," Accenture retail practice global managing director Chris Donnelly said. "In many cases, we have found a significant gap between consumer expectations and reality, but we believe seamlessness is achievable. Traditional retailers must take stock of their operational capabilities. They require a presence at every stage of the customer journey to deliver a consistently personalized, on-brand experience from discovery through research, purchase, fulfillment and beyond to product maintenance or returns."

The study, Accenture Seamless Retail Study, also looked at "showrooming" — the phenomenon of consumers looking in stores for products and then buying them online — and webrooming, which means browsing online and then buying in-store. Seventy-three percent of respondents reported showrooming in the six months before Accenture’s survey, while 88% said they participated in webrooming. Of the consumers who had showroomed, 41% reported that they had done it more than the year before, while 43% said they planned to shop more online and 23% planned to shop more with their mobile phones. Eighty-two percent of consumers reported that access to current product availability was important, but only 21% of retailers offered such information.

"Stores remain a crucial asset by which traditional players can differentiate themselves from the online pure-play retailers," Donnelly said. "They can serve as a showcase for desirable brands and places where customers can enjoy an experience and social interactions."

Other findings included 81% who said it’s important for a retailer to allow them to pick up or arrange for delivery of an item regardless of how it was paid for; 25% said they would be willing to wait a week for free shipping; 24% said it was important for retailers to offer same-day delivery, and 30% said they would be willing to pay extra for it; 56% of retailers offered a range of different fulfillment capabilities, but 26% had same-day delivery; 39% of consumers said they would wait until the morning for the store to open if they wanted an item outside of the store’s normal business hours, while 36% said they would buy it online from the same retailer, and 22% said they would buy it somewhere else online; 49% said they were influenced by in-store offers, compared with 56% influenced by email coupons and 56% who said they were influenced by coupons sent through the mail; 69% said online pop-up ads would never influence their purchasing, while 62% said the same of mobile banner ads.

 

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Nielsen announces Consumer 360 conference

BY Jason Owen

PHOENIX — Nielsen has announced a new Consumer 360 conference to be held in Phoenix from June 3 to 5.

The annual signature event is held around the world and attracts senior executives from CPG manufacturers and retailers, advertising agencies, and media companies.

During and after the event, there will be Thought Leadership decks and reports with media.

The Nielsen Consumer 360 conference will be held at the JW Marriott Desert Ridge Resort and Sap in Phoenix, Ariz., from June 3-5, 2013. Space is limited. For more information, visit the webpage here.

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Kmart’s ‘Ship My Pants’ ad goes viral

BY Alaric DeArment

NEW YORK — If Kmart has proven anything, it’s the transcendental power of potty humor. But at any rate, the mass merchandise retailer has garnered significant attention with its "Ship My Pants" ad, which has received close to 7.4 million views on YouTube and coverage in news outlets nationwide.

The ad is for a service the chain offers whereby customers who can’t find what they’re looking for in the store can order it online and have it shipped to them.

It’s part of parent company Sears Holdings’ omnichannel investments, which chairman and CEO Edward Lampert touted in the company’s fourth quarter 2012 earnings call in February. Also in February, Sears Holdings launched Mygofer Express, allowing customers to pick up items ordered through Mygofer at Sears’ flagship store in Chicago.

 

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