Report: Top 10 myths about multichannel retailing

New York -- Social media isn’t likely to become an important retail channel anytime soon, according to a new report by PwC. The study, “Demystifying the Online Shopper: 10 Myths of Multichannel Retailing,” found that in-store shopping is still center to the shopping experience.

“Our report finds that the physical store remains the centerpiece of the purchase journey, while devices are used significantly for product research and deals,” said Susan McPartlin, PwC’s U.S. retail & consumer sector leader.

The report addresses 10 myths about multichannel retailing and offers some ideas that companies can consider to keep up with their customers:

1. Social media will soon become an indispensable retail channel.
Social media isn’t likely to become an important retail channel anytime soon and currently is a driver for more shopping across all channels, not just online stores.

2. Stores will become mainly showrooms in the future.
For most companies, the physical store remains the centerpiece of the purchase journey. However, companies need to determine how to best drive purchase activity across all of their channels both physical and online. There still is a place for the store to be a showroom — as a supplement for online pure players, rather than a new model for brick-and-mortar retailers.
 
3. The tablet will overtake the PC as the preferred online shopping device.
Tablets and smart phones won’t catch up any time soon as these devices are used at the end of the purchase journey, particularly in-store, while shopping.
 
4. As the world gets smaller, global consumers are becoming more similar.
A wide range of local differences in consumer behavior exists, and retailers still need to cater to local trends.
 
5. China is the future model for online retail.
China is at the forefront of some key trends, but its multichannel and online model is unique to the culture, as shopping habits are dramatically different in China.
 
6. Domestic retailers will always enjoy a ‘home field’ advantage over global retailers.
Foreign retailers are making inroads into consumers’ lists of favorite multichannel retailers. However, retailers need to keep in mind that it’s not just the local base of domestic retailers they compete with, but with global players as well.
 
7. Global online pure players will always enjoy a scale advantage over domestic online pure players.
Many domestic online pure players are holding their own as they have better access to local market knowledge.

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. Retailers need to utilize core strengths including warranty programs and email promotions that drive traffic in-store.
 
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.

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.

In the study, 49% of survey participants said they use social media every day, but only 12% are using social platforms to shop. Instead, a significant 59% use social media to follow, discover and give feedback on brands and retailers. PwC found that social media is not a major traffic driver to online stores, as 45% of consumers continue to shop in a physical store daily or weekly.

To download a copy of "Demystifying the Online Shopper: 10 Myths of Multichannel Retailing," click here.