The Psychology of the Multichannel Shopper

When you think of buying an item what’s your first step? Is it to search online for that product or do you go directly to the store and purchase? Likely it’s a mixture of online and in-store. Do you know if your customers are taking this same approach? Understanding the psychology of omnichannel shoppers and catering for omnichannel customer behaviours is key to setting your business apart in a retail environment where customers increasingly expect a consistent in-store and online experience.

A Harvard Business Review survey found that of 46,000 customers (73%) used multiple channels during their shopping experience. Why do so many consumers use multiple channels before making a purchase? Today’s consumers have the internet at their fingertips and endless options to choose from. To understand the need for multiple channels it’s important to get inside the mind of an omnichannel shopper.

For example, if I’m looking for a new product I know that likely my first step will be to search online. Comparison of prices and styles, the website design and my knowledge of a brand will be deciding factors in which store I choose to purchase from.

A deal breaker for many consumers is a lack of sophisticated e-commerce. 

If your website doesn’t allow me to browse quickly and efficiently through your products we have a problem. People generally have a good idea of what they’re looking for and if your website isn’t working for them there are 100s of others that will.

Often the next step for consumers is to go in-store to try out and purchase the product. In-store they have the ability to see additional advertising (possibly in the form of digital signage), talk to knowledgeable sales staff and then ultimately make the purchase. While consumers can skip the in-store experience, most don’t. People still like to have the in-store shopping experience, to feel and touch what they’re looking at purchasing. Viewing a shirt and the colors it comes in online is great, but there is nothing better than trying on that shirt in person.

It’s important for retailers to differentiate themselves, within the mind of consumers, by understanding omnichannel customer behavior and fully utilizing an omnichannel strategy. According to the same Harvard Business Review survey, omnichannel customers had 23% more visits to retail stores than those who didn’t engage in the omnichannel experience. Retailers need to get in the mind of their customers and fully envision their shopping journey by engaging not only at the physical level but also the digital level and merging the two.

Dig deeper into shopper psychology in our blog titled, 3 Facts About Shopper Psychology to Guide Your Visual Merchandising efforts.