Retailers failing to target 'multi-channel' customers

Not only are customers who do their shopping both in store and on the internet the most loyal, they also spend more money, a study of how retailers handle multiple sales channels has found.

The Multi-Channel Project, carried out by the Institute for Innovation and Economic organisation at the BI Norwegian School of Management, looked into the special challenges involved when a company that has run a traditional store for a long time opens an Internet business.

Researchers interviewed a thousand members of the public, the majority of whom were ‘multi-channel customers’ who shop both on the Internet and in physical stores. According to project leader Peder Inge Furseth, an associate professor at the management school and one of Norway’s leading experts on Internet shopping, the evidence was that this group do more shopping.

"Multi-channel customers are also more loyal than other customer groups," Furseth – commented. “This makes multi-channel customers the most valuable customers a company can have - and the companies may not even be aware of it.”

In spite of the fact that most customers use several channels, both stores and the Internet, retailers categorise them as either store customers or Internet customers and have developed only limited strategies for targeting them, Furseth added. "As we see it, the main challenge is the lack of integration between the company's sales channels."

Based on his research, Furseth recommends four practical initiatives that retailers can use to get to know their customers better. As well as obtaining information about satisfaction and loyalty, and creating seamless connection between the various sales channels, he suggests, companies need to provide customers with better information and ensure good interaction between the sales channels.

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