SOURCE: Sterling Commerce

Sterling Commerce

September 29, 2010 16:10 ET

Eighty-Five Percent of Consumers Expect Seamless Integration Across All Channels, According to New Study

New Consumer Survey Shows Negative Online Shopping Experiences and Retail Out-of-Stocks Drive Down Consumer Loyalty

DALLAS, TX--(Marketwire - September 29, 2010) -  Sterling Commerce, an IBM® Company, and Demandware, Inc., the global leader in on-demand ecommerce, today announced the findings of a new retail study examining consumer shopping preferences at Shop.org's Annual Summit on September 28. Almost a third of respondents said that a negative experience online leaves them with a negative impression of the retailer overall. Half of consumers will avoid the retailer for one or more visits after attempting to purchase something that was out-of-stock. These two factors appear to have a significant effect on consumer loyalty.

The independent survey of 3,600 U.S. consumers revisited several questions from a 2007 survey of consumer expectations surrounding the cross-channel shopping experience. It found that the majority of consumers (85 percent) expect seamless integration across all channels, which breaks down the siloes in a retail organization to deliver a one-brand experience. Compared with the 2007 results, consumers' expectations increased in all areas of the order lifecycle:

  • 87 percent expect to track an order from any channel (up from 56 percent).
  • 74 percent expect to modify an order from any channel (up from 65 percent).
  • 61 percent expect to complete an order from any channel (up from 55 percent).

Survey results also support the overarching trend around the growth of the Web as a primary shopping channel, highlighting the Web as an important entry-point to a cross-channel experience for retailers:

  • 62 percent of consumers say they start their shopping experience online at least 50 percent of the time before venturing in-store. 
  • 49 percent of respondents feel that their online shopping experience has a "strong impact" on their overall perception of a retailer's brand.

"These results indicate that a lack of consistency across channels is actually affecting current and future purchasing behavior," said Jamus Driscoll, vice president of marketing at Demandware. "It's not enough to just have different channels integrated from a technology standpoint, but the experiences need to line up and consumers need access to the same information and products whether online, in-store or on mobile devices, and retailers need to strive to meet this challenge. If the brand experiences don't align, the competition is only a click away."

The survey found that expectations for a seamless cross-channel experience demonstrate consumers' desire for retailers to simplify the shopping experience. For example, more than 60 percent believe that being able to use their mobile phone while shopping to verify product availability at a particular store location is important or very important. For more information on mobile shopping trends, see related release, "New Survey Finds 15 Percent of Consumers Now Use Mobile Devices to Purchase, but Concerns Still Exist Related to Security and Ease-of-Use." The survey also found:

  • 53 percent of respondents consider it "important" or "very important" for a retailer to be able to maintain a cross-channel order history of a customer's purchases.
  • 91 percent of consumers would use an "order online, pick-up in store" option if it were available. Despite this preference, 30 percent of consumers said they have never used this option previously.
  • 83 percent of consumers believe in-store return of an online purchase is "important" or "very important."

"Today's consumer is re-wired, with expectations that blur channel distinctions, merge touchpoints into a continuous interaction and redefines the shopping process by demanding more choice at every step," said Jim Bengier, global retail industry executive for Sterling Commerce. "We've worked with many retailers to help them meet the expectations of today's cross-channel shopper, and they gain more than just customer loyalty. They transform their operations to increase revenue, reduce costs and gain operational efficiency that will prepare them for the consumer of tomorrow."

With many retailers paring down their inventory to control costs, out-of-stocks are becoming more prevalent and, as the survey demonstrates, can affect consumer loyalty. The survey found that nearly half (49 percent) will make fewer trips to the retailer and 31 percent will start shopping online for those items they find are often out-of-stock at the retailer's location. When asked which fulfillment method they would most prefer when faced with a stock-out, respondents ranked them as follows:

  • Ship the out-of-stock item to the consumer (66 percent).
  • Transfer the item to the out-of-stock location (47 percent).
  • Hold the item for pickup at another retail location that does have the item in stock (46 percent).

The new results support IBM's ongoing research on consumer shopping behavior. The changing economy and increased use of technology has given rise to the "smarter consumer" -- one who uses technology to make more informed buying decisions, exchange information with peers, make purchases on-the-go and shop across multiple channels. IBM research findings can be found at http://www-935.ibm.com/services/us/gbs/bus/html/ibv-the-smarter-consumer.html

The survey findings can be found in a white paper at http://www.sterlingcommerce.com/apps/collaterallibrary/external/DownloadFile.asp?fil=102497. A Webinar on the findings will be held October 13. Information on the webinar and the ability to register can be found at https://www2.gotomeeting.com/register/314496826

Survey Methodology
This online survey was conducted by SmartRevenue in June/July 2010 and surveyed 3,611 male and female consumers, aged 18 and older, living in the U.S.

About Demandware, Inc.
The trusted, global leader in on-demand ecommerce, Demandware revolutionizes how businesses deliver customized shopping experiences to consumers in the digital world. Only Demandware combines the on-demand ecommerce platform rated #1 by industry analysts, an open ecosystem of partners that extend the value of the platform, and measurable commitment by its employees to enabling client revenue growth. Demandware continually sets industry standards for market innovation and client satisfaction. Demandware clients include industry leaders such as Bare Escentuals, Barneys New York, Columbia Sportswear, Crocs, Frederick's of Hollywood, Hanover Direct, Jones Apparel Group, Lifetime Brands, Michaels Stores, Panasonic, Reitmans and Theory. For more information about Demandware, visit www.demandware.com, call 888-553-9216 or email info@demandware.com.

About Sterling Commerce
Sterling Commerce, an IBM® Company, helps organizations worldwide increase business agility in their dynamic business network through innovative solutions for selling and fulfillment and for integration with customers, partners and suppliers. More information can be found at www.sterlingcommerce.com.

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