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Web Clicks : Your Customers’ Shopping Habits Have Changed . . . Have You?

Three-Pronged Approach Includes Bricks, Clicks & Mobile

December 2011 By Michael McEnaney
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While the general tone in consumer attitudes has improved slightly over the last year, it’s their emerging new shopping habits that retailers need to pay closer attention to as we ready ourselves for the new year.

Though the recession has surely played a major role in changing these habits, for a large percentage of U.S. consumers there is an even more influential factor at play today—the web, along with the continued evolution of the mobile web. 

I know, you’re sitting there thinking that last statement is old news. Well, I’m here to tell you that you need to take a closer look at just how big a factor the Internet, mobile and desktop, has become when consumers think about making purchases these days. Try these numbers on for size: over 75% of consumers now use the web to research products and prices before visiting a retail location; over 50% use social network sites as part of their buying process; approximately 33% are forsaking bricks and mortar and doing more online shopping than just a year ago; and over 25% now turn to their web-enabled mobile phones for help.

All the above was taken from a recent Deloitte study on consumer shopping behavior, and the results show a rather dramatic increase over the same period last year.

This same study also looked at consumer confidence, and those numbers, while riding a bit of a roller coaster over the course of the last year, are also encouraging, if a bit guarded. The Deloitte study showed that 55% of consumers think the economy is indeed recovering from the recession (however slowly).

“The consumer confidence figures of late are up and down, but retailers need to focus on the things they can control,” George Witt, a New Jersey-based consumer strategist said. “All this research regarding changing consumer shopping habits today is important to keep an eye on. They’ll be coming into retail with a stronger sense of what they want. Smart retailers will not only make sure they get it but also make sure they leave the store knowing a few things they didn’t know before they walked in.”

The fact the numbers have spiked so high with regard to those consumers who are now shopping online only (33% according to Deloitte) and for those now using their mobile phones for shopping help (25%) should offer a warning to retailers that they best have their shops in order as well.

Retail has really become a three-pronged approach today. That in-store experience still has to be memorable, but you need to have your website working for you and a mobile strategy in place as well. You’re not firing on all cylinders if you don’t.”—Martha Refik, Retail Consultant


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