It seems counter-intuitive in many cases, but a number of studies confirm it: products promoted online are likely to generate as much as six times more sales through offline channels as they do online (even if the product is readily available to purchase through the Internet).
Why would consumers go to all the trouble of researching and resourcing online – and then not just click on the Buy button?
A recently-released Cross-Channel White Paper by Oracle examined why consumers use more than one channel to research and buy products — and they definitely provide useful pointers for multichannel marketers. Here’s what some of the 1054 U.S. consumers surveyed had to say:
- 43 percent said they called a customer service representative because they couldn’t locate all the product or service information needed to buy online.
- 39 percent said they went to the store because they prefer to touch and feel the product.
- 36 percent said they visited the store to compare several brands of the same product.
- 22 percent said they opted for the store because they needed to receive the product immediately.
- 19 percent said they chose to call a customer service representative because the online buying process was too complicated or they encountered an error.
- 19 percent wanted to ask about the return/refund policy.
- 15 percent said they wanted to ask a customer service representative about shipping options.
Whilst it would seem that some of these issues could be resolved through improved website design and functionality or even through web-assisted communication with a live helpdesk operator, at least a couple (immediate supply and the urge to touch and feel the product) require real rather than virtual interaction. And we’d suggest that (even though they didn’t specifically say so) consumers sometimes need the validation and reassurance that only speaking to a real person can deliver.
We’re not quite ready for a totally-automated, personality free supply chain – and probably never will be.