Businesses should think twice before throwing all their resources into marketing via social media and mobile devices, according to a new study from consultancy firm PwC. The report Demystifying the online shopper: 10 myths of multichannel retailing suggests that despite the buzz about the growth of shopping via tablet and smartphone, the decline of the traditional shop and the rising importance of social media, the figures reflect a different situation, for now at least.
Some figures from the study highlight that although social media and mobile applications are of rising importance, they have by no means replaced physical stores or shopping online via a PC. Only 10 percent of respondents said social media had led them directly to an online shopping site while 17 percent never buy online. PC’s still rule the roost, with 97 percent saying they had used a PC when shopping online, compared to 28 percent who had used tablets.
The local picture is perhaps different again. Online shopping via any device does not appear to be very advanced in Romania, so if the promised future is yet to arrive elsewhere, then it seems likely it is even further away from the local market. “In Romania, online retail is still in its infancy, yet the potential is there and we expect to see a steady growth in online sales over the next few years”, said Bogdan Belciu, Management Consulting Services Partner with PwC Romania.
The PwC report identified ten dubious, but commonly held beliefs:
Myth 1: Social media will soon become an indispensable retail channel
On its own, social media isn’t likely to become an important retail channel anytime soon. But it’s becoming more popular every year–and it’s driving more shopping across all channels, not just online ones.
Myth 2: Stores will become mainly showrooms in the future
Many multichannel shoppers say they research online, but more still prefer to buy products at a physical store.
Myth 3: The tablet will soon overtake the PC as the preferred online shopping device
Shoppers are still overwhelmingly using their PCs to shop online. Tablets and smart phones won’t catch up any soon–but they may become more important for other parts of the purchase journey.
Myth 4: As the world gets smaller, global consumers are getting more alike
Although consumers shop with more global retailers than ever before, and even online across borders, a wide range of local differences in consumer behaviors exists.
Myth 5: China is the future model of online retail
China is at the forefront of some key trends, but we believe its multichannel and online model is unique.
Myth 6: Domestic retailers will always have a “home field” advantage over global retailers
Foreign retailers are making inroads into consumers’ lists of favorite multichannel retailers.
Myth 7: Global online pure players like Amazon will always have a scale advantage over domestic online pure players
Many domestic online pure players are holding their own.
Myth 8: Retailers are inherently better positioned than brands, as they are closest to the customer
Consumers are shopping directly from manufacturers and many no longer distinguish between retailers and their favorite brands.
Myth 9: Online retail is cannibalizing sales in other channels
Consumers are actually spending more with their favorite multichannel retailers, not just shifting some purchases to a different channel.
Myth 10: Low price is the main driver of customer spend at favorite retailers
Customers value quality, innovative brands over price when shopping at their favorite multichannel retailers.
The survey is of more than 11,000 online shoppers over 11 countries on three continents, including mature economies and emerging markets. The 11 countries covered in the survey are Brazil, Canada, China, France, Germany, the Netherlands, Russia, Switzerland, Turkey, the United Kingdom and the United States. The study was carried out in July and August 2012.
PwC provides consultancy services via a network of firms in 158 countries. The network works with more than 180,000 people to provide advisory, tax and assurance services to companies around the world.