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The 10 myths of multichannel retailing

Monday 21 January 2013

News release

The 10 myths of multichannel retailing

Demystifying the behaviour of Internet shoppers around the world
Our survey of 11,ooo-plus online shoppers debunks the conventional wisdom
Chinese shoppers are leapfrogging Western consumers when it comes to shopping via social media and mobile phones

Every day, executives in the retail and consumer packaged goods industries are inundated with forecasts of a fast-approaching future: the coming dominance of tablet and smart phone shopping; a continuing decline of the physical store; social media's starring role for the next generation of young shoppers. Not so fast, according new research from PwC.

Our new thought leadership piece, Demystifying the online shopper: 10 myths of multichannel retailing, is based on survey of more than 11,ooo online shoppers over 11 countries on three continents, including both mature economies and emerging markets. The 11 countries covered in the survey are Brazil, Canada, China, France, Germany, the Netherlands, Russia, Switzerland, Turkey, the United Kingdom and the United States.

Some of the highlights from this year's report:

• While 60% of respondents use social media to follow, discover, and give feedback on brand and retailers, social media is not a major traffic driver to these brands and retailers--just 10% of our survey sample said a social media interaction led them to a specific online store
• In fact, 17% of Internet users don't buy online at all -- they still prefer to shop entirely in stores
• When it comes to devices, our respondents overwhelmingly favor the PC to the tablet for online purchases -- 97% go shopping on a PC compared to just 28% on a tablet
• Over the next 12 months, our sample expects to shop in-store and online via PC far more than they expect to shop online via tablet or via smart phone
• China is a different story in many ways; for example; 56% of Chinese online consumers have already shopping via a social media platform, versus a global average of 24%
• More than one in three of our respondents have shopped directly from a brand's website; in the U.S. (52%) and China (56%), more than one in two consumers have leapfrogged the retailer and shopped directly with a brand

"I think retailers will be surprised by several of our findings," says PwC's Anne-Lise Glauser, a director in strategy in PwC's Paris office. "Take social media, for instance. Right now some of the countries we surveyed have a large proportion of online shoppers heavily using social media, but overall, it's simply not a major traffic driver to online stores."

The 10 myths debunked in the report range from what kinds of devices consumers use to shop to the future profile of the global consumer.

Myth 1: Social media will soon become an indispensable retail channel
On its own, social media isn't likely to become an important retail channel anytime soon. But it's becoming more popular every year--and it's driving more shopping across all channels, not just online ones.

Myth 2: Stores will become mainly showrooms in the future
Many multichannel shoppers say they research online, but more still prefer to buy products at a physical store.

Myth 3: The tablet will soon overtake the PC as the preferred online shopping device
Shoppers are still overwhelmingly using their PCs to shop online. Tablets and smart phones won't catch up any soon--but they may become more important for other parts of the purchase journey.

Myth 4: As the world gets smaller, global consumers are getting more alike
Although consumers shop with more global retailers than ever before, and even online across borders, a wide range of local differences in consumer behaviors exists.

Myth 5: China is the future model of online retail
China is at the forefront of some key trends, but we believe its multichannel and online model is unique.

Myth 6: Domestic retailers will always have a "home field" advantage over global retailers
Foreign retailers are making inroads into consumers' lists of favorite multichannel retailers.

Myth 7: Global online pure players like Amazon will always have a scale advantage over domestic online pure players
Many domestic online pure players are holding their own.

Myth 8: Retailers are inherently better positioned than brands, as they are closest to the customer
Consumers are shopping directly from manufacturers and many no longer distinguish between retailers and their favorite brands.

Myth 9: Online retail is cannibalizing sales in other channels
Consumers are actually spending more with their favorite multichannel retailers, not just shifting some purchases to a different channel.

Myth 10: Low price is the main driver of customer spend at favorite retailers
Customers value quality, innovative brands over price when shopping at their favorite multichannel retailers.


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