Shoppercentric forecasts a merry multi-channel Christmas

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Susie Spencer, director at Shoppercentric, anticipates a multi-channel Christmas 

Spencer: multi-channel trend

Spencer: multi-channel trend

It’s been a tough year so far for many retailers, with the continuing pressure on shopper spending and the march of competitors online. And Christmas doesn’t look like it is going to give any respite, particularly in relation to the online challenge because when it comes to finding the perfect presents, online will be as important this year as bricks and mortar:

For some shoppers etailing enables them to pander to their inner Bah-Humbug because going online means they can avoid the Christmas crowds. This, according to our new research, is particularly true of 25-44 year olds and those with children. It seems the parent version of Christmas spirit may well be found in a glass of wine as they peruse the options on their laptop while the kids are asleep, as opposed to running the gauntlet of the elves trying to drum up trade for Santa’s grotto.

And yes, there is evidence that shoppers will be ‘show-rooming’ this Christmas, taking full advantage of the multi-channel retail-scape around them to combine hands-on browsing with internet bargain-hunting: 30% of shoppers agree that they ‘like to go in store but then buy online once I’ve seen what I want’.

But before bricks and mortar retailers succumb to the ghost of Christmas Future, it’s worth knowing that one in every two shoppers agree that they ‘prefer shopping in-store so I know I am getting exactly the right present’. After all, no one wants little Ollie telling them this is the worst Christmas ever because Yoda wasn’t in that particular Lego set! What’s more, shoppers still show concern about online orders not turning up on time, particularly if they live in London – who’d have thought our confident grand metropolis was actually full of anxious shoppers waiting for the postman to ring the doorbell?

On top of those potential concerns in the online offer, it seems UK shoppers continue to have trust issues around buying their Christmas groceries online: half as many shoppers expect to shop online for the perfect mince pies or brussels sprouts vs in-store. It appears that many shoppers are still reluctant to delegate the responsibility of their gastro-Christmas to an online picker and would rather retain control of the trolley themselves.

There is, however an upside, as the big story emerging this Christmas is when clicks and bricks come together through click and collect. One in three shoppers expect to use this delivery option this Christmas and one in four agree that it will make a big difference to their Christmas shopping this year.

So we can expect to see a lot of shoppers hotfooting it to a number of stores to collect their online orders which means there is a huge opportunity for bricks & mortar retailers to really lay on the ambience, and roll out the tempting displays to play to their strengths and encourage incremental purchasing. If they could tempt each of those customers to pick up just one extra item in addition to their parcel collection, that could deliver a seriously big uplift in sales. And if you are a Scottish retailer it is worth noting that shoppers in your region are the most likely to click and collect in this way (41%) – so dust off the tinsel and start planning your Christmas displays.

The smartest retailers this year will be those who capitalise on this blend of clicks and bricks that combines value and convenience with control and confidence. And by encouraging online shoppers to store to collect their goods, they will create a fantastic opportunity to remind shoppers of the enjoyment and inspiration that can be provided within those brick walls. A merry multi-channel Christmas indeed.