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Do You Know What Cross-channel Shopping Is?

RSI News recently reported that the online channel represented 34 percent of overall retail revenue in 2008 - a growth rate of more than 42 percent since 2006. This percentage represents revenue from both online shopping and cross-channel shopping. Consumers who visit a retailer's website and shop at brick-and-mortar stores spend a good deal more than average shoppers, in some cases 50 percent more or higher.

Do you know what cross-channel shopping is? Do you know how it can benefit your business? Cross-channel shopping is the growing phenomenon where the majority of online consumers prefer to browse online and purchase offline. Online being your website, offline being your brick-and-mortar store.

Now, as you read this some of you might think that I am talking only about ecommerce websites and brick-and-mortar retailers. If you provide a service or a product that doesn't fit into the ecommerce mold then this article is important to you too. You must understand that customers are researching your company, comparing you to competitors, and making a buying decision too. So understanding cross-channel shopping and using techniques to enhance the cross-channel shopping experience for your customers can benefit your business as well.

The benefits of cross-channel shopping for customers include:

  • better access
  • better convenience
  • ease of comparison shopping
  • fuel savings (making their buying decision and driving to 1 store to make their purchase)

Business benefits of leveraging the online channel and integrating a cross-channel shopping experience include:

  • meeting consumer demands for rich online interaction
  • cross-channel purchase and return options
  • reducing staff sales and administration costs
  • providing greater product assortment choices online (the long tail) where space may be limited on the brick-and-mortar store floor

Here are some ways that businesses are taking advantage of their cross-channel shopping experience, providing added value to their customers while increasing revenue to their business:

  • Nordstrom, Sears, Circuit City, Mountain Equipment Co-op and many others provide a service where their customers can shop and make their purchases online and then go to their nearest store to pickup their purchases... within hours! Some are offering a same-day in-town delivery service as well.
  • Blockbuster recently offered a returns service for their customers' online rentals, by enabling customers to return products rented online to any nearby Blockbuster store.
  • Charlotte Rouse, a young women's fashion retail chain, has created in-store signage directing customers to their MySpace page for the latest fashion, accessories and even the option to shop.
  • Sears has added the capability for customers to browse, purchase and schedule delivery or pickup for major home appliances like refrigerators or washing machines, all on their mobile devices.
  • Babies “R” Us provides online postings for in-store events.
  • Borders offers a cross-channel rewards program, and promotes their website at in-store cash registers.
  • Linens ‘N Things has an online gift registry, and displays in-store signage promoting “as seen on LNT.com” and “as advertised on LNT.com.”

For more information and ideas on how to boost integration and cross-channel shopping between your website and your store or business, contact us anytime.