Retail stores have been suffering declining sales over the past two years, resulting in numerous bankruptcies and hundreds of store closing across the country.[1] Meanwhile, online sales are booming: The Harvard Business Review reported ecommerce sales increased 23% in 2015.[2]

The financial stakes are high for traditional retailers, and rather than giving up, many are shifting to an omnichannel strategy. This approach enables them to offer consumers easy access and a consistently superb experience across all channels, from shopping in the physical store to purchases made through catalogs, websites, mobile apps and social media.

A Harvard University research team conducted an in-depth study of 46,000 customers of a major retailer and found that omnichannel customers are more valuable customers.[3] A separate survey substantiated this finding, revealing that 47% of consumers who engage with retailers through 10 or more channels tend to make weekly purchases, compared to just 21% of shoppers who engage with retailers through four or fewer channels.[4]

In the Harvard study, omnichannel consumers used several channels interchangeably, such as purchasing through a mobile app and picking up the merchandise in the store. In addition to making more purchases, they tended to spend more per purchase. And with every additional channel they used, these savvy consumers spent more money in the physical store than those shoppers who used only one channel.[5]

The Harvard study also found that omnichannel shoppers tend to do more online research before making a purchase, and they rely on online product information and customer reviews to make buying decisions. Omnichannel shoppers also were more loyal to the brand and more likely to recommend the retailer to friends and family.[6]

As traditional brick-and-mortar retailers struggle to retain their customer base, the key to protecting sales and enhancing customer loyalty is making their brand readily accessible on multiple channels while providing the same high level of service across all platforms.

[1] “What in the World Is Causing the Retail Meltdown  of 2017?,” by Derek Thompson, The Atlantic, April 10, 2017. Available at: https://www.theatlantic.com/business/archive/2017/04/retail-meltdown-of-2017/522384/

[2] “A Study of 46,000 Shoppers Shows That Omnichannel Retailing Works,” by Emma Sopadjieva, Utpal M. Dholakia and Beth Benjamin, Harvard Business Review, Jan. 3, 2017. Available at: https://hbr.org/2017/01/a-study-of-46000-shoppers-shows-that-omnichannel-retailing-works

[3] “A Study of 46,000 Shoppers Shows That Omnichannel Retailing Works,” by Emma Sopadjieva, Utpal M. Dholakia and Beth Benjamin, Harvard Business Review, Jan. 3, 2017. Available at: https://hbr.org/2017/01/a-study-of-46000-shoppers-shows-that-omnichannel-retailing-works

[4] “Omnichannel Strategy Bundle: Your guide to engaging with shoppers on multiple channels,” by Business Insider Intelligence, Dec. 19, 2016. Available at: http://www.businessinsider.com/omnichannel-marketing-strategy-and-research-e-commerce-and-online-sales-2016-11

[5] “A Study of 46,000 Shoppers Shows That Omnichannel Retailing Works,” by Emma Sopadjieva, Utpal M. Dholakia and Beth Benjamin, Harvard Business Review, Jan. 3, 2017. Available at: https://hbr.org/2017/01/a-study-of-46000-shoppers-shows-that-omnichannel-retailing-works

[6] “A Study of 46,000 Shoppers Shows That Omnichannel Retailing Works,” by Emma Sopadjieva, Utpal M. Dholakia and Beth Benjamin, Harvard Business Review, Jan. 3, 2017. Available at: https://hbr.org/2017/01/a-study-of-46000-shoppers-shows-that-omnichannel-retailing-works

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