A new study from the research firm GfK study suggests that consumers are freely mingling in-store visits, online product research, and other information sources when making purchases.
Across the globe, one third (33 percent) of all shoppers report using a cellphone during a store visit to research prices; and roughly two in 10 (19 percent) have actually purchased something with a smartphone while visiting a retail outlet.
Across 12 categories, 37 percent of US shoppers — and 29 percent globally — are turning to multiple channels. The extent of the omnichannel shopping phenomenon varies by category and country and seems to be tied to the rise in mobile device penetration, according to a news release on the study.
The study found that U.S. shoppers are most likely to combine online and in-person sources when buying consumer electronics (70 percent), toys (66 percent), apparel (58 percent) and home appliances (57 percent). At the low end of the omnichannel spectrum in the U.S. are cleaning products (14 percent), OTC medications (15 percent) and food and beverages (15 percent).
These category differences are amplified by geographic variations. In consumer electronics, the U.S. has the highest level of omnichannel behavior (70 percent); Chile is a distant second (56 percent), and the global average is 46 percent.
In beauty and personal care, however, China is the global leader at 57 percent, with the U.S. tied for fifth with Bulgaria and Romania (all at 31 percent).
"The future of shopping is already in full swing," said Alison Chaltas, EVP of Shopper and Retail Strategy at GfK. "Retailers need to embrace and market to shoppers' fast-changing habits and preferences, providing a well calibrated mix of information, service and promotion. It is also essential to have a unified message and brand across platforms. The Holy Grail in this new environment will be creating an integrated and consistent message to shoppers that you are ready to serve them wherever they go — in store, online and along the way."
Read more about consumer behavior.