True or False? PC Is Preferred Shopping Device Of Global Online Retail Customers

My last blog post asked: True or False? Price Is Top Driver Of Global eCommerce Online Retail Competition, one among five questions about global online retail. Did you know the answer? Turns out that the survey research and our gut instincts are at odds regarding the way online shoppers behave and what they value in the multichannel experience. Based on PwC's 2012 Global multichannel consumer survey, retailers can find out how much they know the FACTS of global eCommerce online retail competition -- and how to confront it.  Here are 5 more true and false assumptions about customer shopping habits and global multichannel retailing:

Bonus: Why do global consumers say they like to buy directly from manufacturers? 


2012 Global Multichannel Consumer Survey 

 QUESTIONS: (See answers below).

 1. True or False: The PC remains the preferred device for online shopping?

 2. True or False: Social media will soon become an indispensable retail channel?

 3. True or False: Many consumers are now skipping the retailer to go directly to a manufacturer to order?

 4. True or False: The more consumers use multiple channels, the more they spend at their favorite retailers'? 

 5. True or False: Customers prefer to use retailers in their own countries?


 1. The PC remains the preferred device for online shopping. (True)

Shoppers are still overwhelmingly using their PCs to shop online -- more than tablets and smart phones (which are becoming more important for other parts of the purchase journey).

Although three-quarters of tablets users say they reach for their device at least once a day and nearly half spend more than 11 hours per week on them -- tablets are still not a preferred online shopping device. Surprised? Here's more:

* More than one-third of the global sample indicates that they expect to increase their PC shopping next year.

* In China, 87% of online shoppers use their PC to shop every month.

* Only 9% say they have changed their habits to shop with a tablet more often.

* Only 11% think they'll shop more with a tablet in the next 12 months.

2. Social media will soon become an indispensable retail channel (False)

Although social media is becoming more popular every year -- and it's driving more shopping across all channels (not just online ones), social media, on its own, isn't likely to become an important global retail channel any time soon.

Even though the uses of social media sites like Facebook have exploded in recent years, only a tiny minority of the survey respondents say they're using social media sites to shop.

Some social media-related results from the survey:

* 49% of the survey respondents said they use social media every day.

* 60% of them to follow, discover, and give feedback on brand and retailers, but just

* 10% of the survey sample said a social media interaction led them to a specific online store.

* 56% of Chinese online consumers have already been shopping via a social media platform, versus a global average of 24%.

3. Many consumers are now skipping the retailer to go directly to a brand to order. (True)

Many consumers no longer distinguish between retailers and their favorite brands, and go straight to the manufacturer or distributor to order.

This phenomenon could be one of the biggest stories for both consumer goods companies and retailers in the next five years, says the PwC research. If the PwC sample is any indication:

* 35% of the sample bought directly from brand sites.

* 56% (in China) and 52% (in the U.S.) -- more than half of the respondents -- say they are going direct to brand sites.

* 29% of the total sample chose to buy directly from a brand because of brand loyalty -- an ominous development for retailers, as in such cases they can't respond effectively with lower prices.

4. The more consumers use multiple channels, the more they spend at their favorite retailers'. (True)

The PwC research indicates that when consumers use multiple channels, the majority spend more at their favorite retailers; and they're not just shifting some purchases to a different channel. In fact, nearly one in five of the global sample say they spend at least 25% more at their favorite retailer when buying over more than one sales channel.

In Brazil, 68% of the survey respondents said (the more they use multichannels), the more they spend.

The catch is that, first, retailers have to get in the inner circle of favorite retailers. And remember in Part One... 95% of the sample shops with five or fewer retailers via multiple channels.  

5. Customers prefer to use retailers in their own countries. (False)

You'd think there'd be loyalty of home-field advantage to your own country's companies, but foreign retailers are making inroads into consumers' lists of favorite multichannel retailers.

Retailing has long been a domestic game, and in their 2011 survey, PwC researchers weren't very surprised when domestic players dominated on the lists of respondents' favorite multichannel retailers. This year saw inroads made by global retailers:

* In Switzerland, several retailers from other European countries, including Ikea and Weltbild, made the top 10 list.

* PwC's German respondents named three non-domestic companies in their top 10 choices -- Esprit, H&M, and C&A.

* Least surprising, three U.S. retailers are among the Canadian sample's top ten favorite multichannel retailers.

Bottom Line For Your Bottom Line:

How'd you do? Like retail itself, the global picture is changing, weaving and bobbing, like a prizefighter, as each entity gains the upper hand -- and then loses it, as the fickle customer calls the shots. Retailers will do well to study the trends as well as follow where reality leads us.

Based on 10 myths of multichannel retailing by PwC, based on 2012 Global multichannel consumer survey. 

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Gilon Miller, CMO

About Author

Gilon is a seasoned marketing, sales and business development executive with over 15 years of experience in the software and Internet business. He is the Founder and CEO of GuruShots. Previously, Gilon was the CMO of Upstream Commerce, VP of Marketing at iMDsoft and Director of Global Marketing at SAP. He earned an MBA at the MIT Sloan School of Management and a BS in Electrical Engineering from Tufts University.
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