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CE Ripe For Online Sales Shift: IBM

New York – A new IBM study shows that consumers are most inclined to switch from in-store to online purchases when shopping for CE products and luxury goods like jewelry and designer apparel.

The study, by IBM’s Institute of Business Value, also found that fully 50 percent of online sales resulted from showrooming.

The report, released this week at the annual National Retail Federation (NFR) Convention, here, surveyed 26,000 shoppers in 14 countries across eight non-grocery product categories.

Nearly a quarter of “showroomers” said they initially intended to make their purchase in a store, but ultimately bought the item online due largely to price and convenience.

Two-thirds of showroomers buy from multichannel retailers, the study showed, while the balance do business with online-only sites.

Young, male and affluent shoppers are most likely to showroom, IBM said, and while the phenomenon is global in scope, the incidence of showrooming is higher in China (26 percent) and India (13 percent) than it is the U.S. (7 percent). 

While brick-and-mortar is still the predominant shopping channel by far, consumers are becoming increasingly open to buying both online and in-store depending on their needs at the time of purchase, the study suggested. More than 80 percent of respondents said they made their last purchase in a retail store, although 35 percent weren’t sure which channel they would choose next time, and 9 percent said they are ready to commit to e-commerce.

“Today’s consumer is sophisticated and opportunistic, navigating between store and online environments interchangeably to meet their shopping needs of the moment,” said Jill Puleri, IBM Global Business Services’ global retail leader. “To satisfy clients, retailers must deliver a consistent, convenient shopping experience across each consumer touch point, extending from the store to online and back again.”

Specifically, retailers must better connect their online and physical stores, blending benefits into both at various points in the shopping cycle — from research to purchase — to build brand loyalty and repeat sales, IBM said.

In the store, retailers must infuse digital experiences, provide store associates with the technology to save the sale, and embrace consumer-owned technology. Online, retailers most optimize their websites for various devices.

The key, Puleri said, is using data and analytics to identify why showroomers are shifting purchases online so that retailers can act and adjust accordingly.