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The Complete Omni-Channel Retail Report: What Brands Need to Know About Modern Consumer Shopping Habits in 2017

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No single formula, algorithm or crystal ball can tell you for sure when and why each individual customer will make a purchase.

A senior citizen looking to buy a smartwatch might be texted a recommendation by a grandchild, then walk into a physical store to purchase. That same grandchild, on the other hand, might spend weeks parsing smartwatch reviews, adding, then abandoning items in their cart on both mobile and desktop, before finally purchasing because of an enticing email offer.

It’s a complex process, and it’s why omni-channel selling is so important.

Both BigCommerce and Square exist to make shopping easier and more enjoyable for both sellers and customers, whatever the platform. There are no crystal balls, but there are strategies, and we’ve teamed up to bring you the most up-to-date statistics on when and how Americans shop online.

First things first...

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What is omni-channel retail?

  • Square defines it as: "Meeting people on the channels where they are shopping and buying, whether it's in a physical store or an online store or on social media, and connecting the dots between those channels. The purpose is to keep customers moving around within the brand ecosystem, with each channel working in harmony to nurture more sales and engagement."
  • Hubspot defines it as: “the ability to deliver a seamless and consistent experience across channels, while factoring in the different devices that consumers are using to interact with your business.”
  • Google defines it as: “ensuring [retailer] marketing strategies are geared toward enabling customers to convert on any channel.”
  • At BigCommerce, we internally define it as: “Stores selling both online and offline — likely also selling through multiple online channels (i.e. on Amazon, eBay, Facebook, B2B). We’ve also been referencing the importance of listing your product wherever consumers are already spending their time. This is increasingly known as contextual commerce, a more strategic take on the overarching omni-channel term.”

Typically, omni-channel retailers aren’t startups. They also aren’t web-only shops, which means they have the capital to put some feet on the ground. That much is clear. What isn’t, is the idea of seamlessness and retailer sophistication. From that perspective, few retailers today are successfully executing on all of their omni-channel initiatives.

This is because with the momentum toward integrating commerce across channels, there’s one big piece of the puzzle missing: what the consumer wants [infographic].

Many retailers are just guessing.

Sure, they have proprietary data on how consumers are using their own channels, but ‘omni’ has Latin roots in the omniscient realm, meaning perceiving all things — not just what is happening on your own channel.

Omni-channel marketing, then, becomes more about providing an experience — the omni-channel customer experience — transcending any one medium and simply providing shoppers what they want, when they want.

To date, no one has decoded exactly how, when and why the modern American makes a purchase. What we do know though is that nobody today shops exclusively through a single medium. Consumers buy online, in store and on marketplaces, from legacy retailers and independent brands alike.

One consequence of this — albeit a happy one — is that cash flows in from different sources and different devices. That understanding has been crucial to the development of Square for click-and-mortar businesses, including its POS integration with BigCommerce.

With this in mind, we’ve launched a new study analyzing modern, omni-channel consumer behavior. This data uncovers the details on how, when, where and why Americans buy, educating the entire commerce industry on today’s consumer shopping preferences.

You’ll see the results of our study in the following chapters and gain insight into:

  • How Americans shop across an omni-channel environment: what they buy, how much they spend and what’s stopping them from checking out more often
  • What products retailers should feature on various channels to maximize sales
  • How to increase conversion rates on all your selling channels
  • How omni-channel fulfillment is a necessary extension of merging channels
  • The ins and outs of your audience and their motivation for purchasing
  • Which channels businesses sell through — based on a survey of over 1,100 businesses — and what effect it has on profits

This is what retailers need to know to implement a data-driven, omni-channel strategy today.

First, a quick note from the editor

This information only tells you what the customer is doing. The fundamental mistake to avoid is assuming that we’re actually asking the customer, “What do you want?” If you ask a question like this, you can’t be surprised by what you’ll hear: solutions and convenience. And requests for solutions will almost always be disappointing for companies that are trying to innovate.

According to Harvard Business Review: “Customers only know what they have experienced. They cannot imagine what they don’t know about emergent technologies, new materials, and the like. What customer, for example, would have asked for the microwave oven, Velcro or Post-It Notes? At the time the transistor was being developed, radio and television manufacturers were still requesting improved vacuum tubes.”

We offer these survey results as important data in furthering the understanding of the modern consumer, which can then be used to distill the omni-channel customer experience down to recognizable touchpoints. Providing this experience permeates every aspect of your organization, from inventory management to multi-channel marketing campaigns.

Read about our methodology here. What innovations occur next is up to the retailers.

Without further ado, let’s dive into the data.

Who shops online

At a high level, that’s an easy question to answer: almost everyone.

96% of Americans with internet access have made an online purchase at some point in their lives, and four in five (80%) have done so in the last month alone.

Online shopping is now just as popular as in-store, with 51% of Americans citing online as their preferred way to shop.

This goes hand in hand with data from the National Retail Federation for the 2015 holiday season. For the first time ever, more Americans shopped online for holiday items — but it was a narrow win. The NRF’s survey found that an estimated 151 million people shopped either in stores, online or both over the weekend.

Of those, 103 million said they shopped online, and nearly 102 million headed to stores.

As you’ll see later on, having an online presence on multiple channels can pay off big time profit-wise.

Millennials vs. Gen X vs. Baby Boomers

Americans as a whole are split when it comes to a preference for online or in-store shopping. But when broken out by demographic, it is clear that the younger generations will continue to drive shopping to the digital front.

The survey revealed that 67% of Millennials and 56% of Gen Xers prefer to search and purchase on ecommerce sites rather than in-store.

Only 41% of Baby Boomers and 28% of Seniors will click to purchase.

Given their preference for online shopping, it makes sense that Millennials and Gen Xers would also spend nearly 50% more time shopping online each week (six hours) than their older counterparts (four hours).

Reduce Fear for All Buyer Types

Resistance around purchasing online is often fear-based. A flexible return policy, free return shipping and even a pre-printed return label can work wonders for a store’s conversion rate.

Stevie Huval, Solution Engineer at BigCommerce

Parents vs. non-parents

When it comes to shopping, there is one major difference between parents and non-parents: convenience.

You’ll see this trend pop up throughout the study. Yes, all online shoppers are influenced by the convenience factor, but no group values ease of purchase like parents.

In fact, nearly half (49%) of parents surveyed stated that they couldn’t live without online shopping — and they spend 61% more online per year than non-parents ($1,071 vs. $664).

Parents also spend more of their budget online in comparison to non-parents (40% vs. 34%), and spend 75% more time shopping online each week (seven hours vs. four hours).

Optimize for Convenience

Consider that different products (or sets of products) in your overall range might produce different financial results through the same channels; for example, bulky/heavy items are often best sold through a store/outlet, while you may be able to charge a premium price for a high-value, easily deliverable item through your website in exchange for the convenience of this channel.

— James Brown, Client Engagement Manager, RANDEM

Men vs. Women

This demographic breakdown is nothing revolutionary; American men and women shop rather similarly across all channels.

The one key callout is that men reported spending 28% more online than women over the last year.

Metropolitan vs. suburban vs. rural

Americans shop differently depending on where they live.

For instance, although they have more physical stores nearby, shoppers in metropolitan areas spend more online annually on average ($853) than suburban shoppers ($768) or those in rural areas ($684).

They also spend the most time shopping online out of the three groups.

What’s stopping those in suburban or rural areas from shopping or spending more online?

More than half (63%) of suburban shoppers cited shipping costs as their least favorite part of online shopping, and 38% of rural shoppers cited strong concerns about online privacy — a concern Square aims to tackle with its PCI-compliant systems.

Capture Regional Shoppers on Various Marketplaces

Omnichannel means selling through as many avenues as possible, and one of the first steps of that strategy is setting up shop on a marketplace like Amazon, Walmart, or eBay to reach a broad amount of consumers.

That said, each marketplace will have its ups and downs that should be considered before hopping aboard.

Take your product, for instance. If it’s a unique, handmade item, Etsy, a marketplace for crafted goods, is a solid option. Or if you’re focused on dropshipping, you may want to try Amazon so you don’t have to worry as much about branding.

— Harrison Dromgoole, Content Creator, Ordoro

Where Americans spend online

Shopping online has never been easier or more omnipresent in America. Yet, according to the U.S. Census Bureau, ecommerce accounted for only 7.5% of total retail sales in the fourth quarter of 2015.

Our data shows a similar, though significantly higher, trend:

Online shoppers spend 64% of their shopping budget in store, and 36% online.

These numbers, though, are expected to increase. Between Q3 and Q4 of 2015, ecommerce sales grew 32%. In total, 2015 ecommerce sales were 14% higher than in 2014. Experts have predicted that by 2020, ecommerce sales will hit $523 billion — a 56% increase from the $335 billion achieved in 2015.

In order for those predictions to come true, ecommerce sales need only increase 9.32% annually. If last year’s numbers are any indication, we are well on our way to surpassing the estimates.

Map the Customer Journey to Win the Most $$$

When you do omnichannel marketing, your customer journey is key because you need to know how all your channels can work together. Start by mapping your entire customer journey.

  • What happens after a potential customer has visited your website?
  • What are all the possible journeys they can take to become a paying customer?

Once you’ve mapped the entire customer journey, you can focus on creating a strategy where your channels support each other in converting people into customers.

For example, if your product is expensive, your potential customers will likely not make a purchase the first time they are introduced to it. This means you’ll have to target them continuously across channels with information that could answer any questions and eliminate the reservations they might have before purchasing.

On the other hand, if your product is cheaper, you can push sales more aggressively and more often.

— Emil Kristensen, Co-founder & CMO, Sleeknote.

Of course, Americans aren’t shopping at all online retailers in the same way.

The majority begin a search for items on marketplaces, while some go to their tried-and-true local boutique’s website, and others look for traditional brand name stores. There are multiple factors that contribute to a final purchasing decision, much of which will be covered later.

Below you will find data on exactly where Americans are spending their money.

Find the Channel That Produces The Biggest Results First

I think the trick is to find the channel that gives you the biggest results first and then stack on other channels once you've gained traction in your initial channels.

Alternatively, you could test multiple channels at once and find that first big lever.

In the case of most ecommerce, I find that first BIG channel to be Facebook. In terms of stacking, there are other no-brainer campaigns such as Google Shopping Ads, branded search keywords, product based search keywords, and display retargeting.

— Eric Carlson, Co-Founder, 10X Factory

Online vs. in store

The in-store draw is still an important one for many merchants. In fact, many of the most successful retailers are omni-channel commerce businesses, meaning they have both online and brick-and-mortar stores — making them ‘click-and-mortar’ stores.

Americans are almost evenly split on which channel they prefer:

51% think shopping online is best, while 49% prefer shopping in store.

There’s a more distinct difference in how much they spend on each channel, though: those surveyed spent 64% of their shopping budget in store, and 36% online.

Even if you prefer online shopping, chances are you’ll spend more when you buy in store. Of course, this changes based on your demographics.

See the breakout below on how Americans in various demographic groups spend online vs. in store.

Note: Everyone surveyed reports spending more in brick-and-mortars.

BE RECOGNIZABLE. BE CONSISTENT.

A great omni-channel experience feels familiar to the customer, regardless of the channel. Inject your brand's voice into every communication, and be consistent with pricing policies, offers and rules so that potential buyers don't get confused.

— Christina Dam, Product Marketing Lead, Square

Webstore vs. large retailer vs. marketplace

There are thousands of online shopping options for consumers, and few shoppers are loyal to just one.

Survey data revealed that 74% of Americans have shopped at large retailers, 54% on ecommerce marketplaces, 44% at webstores and 36% at category-specific online retailers.

This modern consumer behavior has led to a rise in two industry terms

  1. Multi-channel: Multi-channel retailing means a company sells in multiple online channels (e.g. a web store, marketplaces and social media)
  2. Omni-channel: Omni-channel refers to retailers with both a physical and digital presence.

Retailers can be both or neither, though the most successful merchants are typically multi-channel and growing to become omni in the near future. That’s because consumers generally shop wherever is the most convenient.

Nearly half of all online product searches (48%) begin on marketplaces like Amazon, for instance. In comparison, 31% of Americans first turn to larger retailers, 12% to category-specific retailers, and 7% to webstores.

If you sell through a webstore without using Amazon as part of a multi-channel strategy, you’re missing out on a huge amount of searches and potential conversions.

Square’s 2017 survey of over 1,100 business owners, for instance, revealed that just 16% were selling via Amazon.

In fact, in the last year, online shoppers have spent the most with ecommerce marketplaces ($488), closely followed by large retailers such as Nordstrom or Best Buy ($409).

Product discoverability is the name of the game for online retailers, even big brands. Here’s how each retailer type fares in consumer visibility and conversion.

No 2 Channels Have The Same Strategy

You should start by figuring out what's working for you currently. Are you crushing it on Google Shopping? Maybe you should consider Amazon as your next channel since the two are very similar (product discovery via keywords, price, etc). Don't go into any channel with the exact same strategy you had on the other channel — but DO use it as a guideline so you aren't starting from scratch.

— William Harris, Ecommerce Consultant, Elumynt

When Americans spend online

Now that mobile devices are always on hand, there is no limit to where and when people shop online. And they do so frequently, with 80% making purchases at least once a month — and 30% purchasing at least once per week.

The charts below detail exactly how often different demographics are clicking the buy button, and from where they are doing it.

Online shopping frequency

Shopping online is now almost ubiquitous, with 93% of Americans having done so in the last year. For many, online shopping has become habitual: 80% cite purchasing something online monthly, 30% weekly and 5% daily.

Online shopping takes up a good chunk of our time, too. Respondents spend five hours per week on average shopping online, and those with kids spend an additional two per week.

Let’s put that in terms of dollars. Using the current federal minimum wage of $7.25 an hour, Americans could make an additional $36 a week putting those hours toward income generation.

That’s more than $1,500 a year on minimum wage alone.

For those in states making a $15 hourly minimum wage, that’s $3,600 a year spent online shopping.

ENGAGE BUYERS WITH CONTENT

Most of the visitors to your site are not immediately ready to purchase. Pre-transactional conversion opportunities let you trade something site visitors find valuable (content like a style guide or recipe book) for something you find valuable (their contact information and interests). It’s an opportunity to gather contact information from a prospective buyer on your site so you can engage with them in a thoughtful and valuable way.

Susannah Morris, Ecommerce Marketing Manager at HubSpot

Purchase location and time

So we know Americans shop online often, but let’s drill down another layer. During which times and from which locations do they find it most convenient to do so? You might be surprised.

A 2015 InReality study found that 75% of shoppers have used their mobile device while in a physical store. Our survey took things even further, confirming that 25% of Americans have actually made an online purchase while standing in a brick-and-mortar store.

Consumers do their online shopping from a variety of locations — wherever it’s most convenient. Almost half (43%) of Americans who have shopped online have made a purchase from bed; Millennials and Gen Xers are 3x more likely to do so than Baby Boomers and Seniors (59% vs. 21%).

Of those surveyed, 23% have made a purchase from work; 29% of Millennials and Gen Xers have done so, and 15% of Baby Boomers and Seniors.

Another 20% admit to purchasing from the bathroom or while in the car.

Millennials and Gen Xers report the highest incidences of bathroom shopping; they’re 5x more likely to have made an online purchase from the bathroom than Baby Boomers or Seniors (31% vs. 6%).

It’s not just where Americans are shopping, though, that’s of interest. It’s also in what state of mind.

One in ten shoppers admitted to buying something online after drinking alcohol.

Men are more than twice as likely to drink and shop compared with women (14% to 6%), and younger generations are 5x more likely to do so than older (15% to 3%). Parents are over two times more likely than non-parents to have made an online purchase after drinking (15% vs. 7%).

It will be very interesting to see how marketers incorporate this insight into their omni-channel strategy!

Script Out Your Omnichannel Purchase Story

For brands looking to grow using an omnichannel strategy I think it’s really important to think about everything from the perspective of a customer. I like to try to think of every touchpoint in the an omnichannel approach as part of a longer story.

When thinking about omnichannel strategy, try to think of it as scripting the customers' purchase story.

Customers may have come to the site and then they saw retargeting ads, then they may have even seen your product referenced in an article online, and finally came back to the site again and purchased.

These are all things that happen, but I think it’s important to remember that each detail or touchpoint is part of a narrative that defines the customer’s view and trust of the brand.

I find it really useful to make an ideal customer journey sheet that outlines exactly how I imagine the each type of customer interacting with the store (all the touchpoints) before making a purchase.

— Daniel Wallock, Marketing Strategist, Wallock Media

What Americans are buying

It’s clear that Americans are shopping both online and in store. Yet what they buy at each type of retailer varies — and also overlaps.

Our study further proves that the modern buyer journey is multi-channel. Few Americans have bought items only through one or even two channels. Most purchase items through a variety of retailer types, likely whichever is the most convenient or cost-effective at the time of purchase.

See the chart below for a more thorough breakdown of which items consumers are buying at which retailers. Here are a few takeaways:

  • Clothing, shoes and accessories: 44% of shoppers have purchased from marketplaces (e.g. Amazon, eBay, Etsy), 47% from large retailers (e.g. Walmart, Costco), 27% from webstores (e.g. TJ Maxx) and 30% from category-specific online stores (e.g. Apple, Timberland).
  • Electronics: 34% of shoppers have purchased from marketplaces, 32% from large retailers, 10% from webstores and 19% from category-specific online stores
  • Beauty and personal care items: 29% of shoppers have purchased from marketplaces, 24% from large retailers, 18% from webstores and 17% from category-specific online stores
  • Books, music and movies: 44% of shoppers bought from marketplaces, 28% from large retailers, 15% from webstores and 21% from category-specific online stores
  • Flowers and gifts: 14% of consumers bought on marketplaces, 14% from large retailers, 15% from webstores and 19% from category-specific online stores.

Be Relentless In Understanding Motivations

When brands think about omnichannel marketing, they should always start with their target customer and audience in mind. Don't just think about how to reach your audience through Facebook ads and Google ads either.

Spend time thinking about the communities they're a part of online. The Facebook groups they rely on for their news. The influencers they follow on Instagram. The podcasts they listen to while on their commute to work.

And be relentless at ensuring that you understand their motivations and the channels they use on a daily basis.

— Ross Simmonds, Founder, Foundation Marketing

What influences the American shopper to purchase

Convenience and price are the two most important influences on a purchasing decision. Have a low enough price, though, and convenience takes a back seat.

Likely as a result of the recent recession and slower-than-expected return to stability, Americans are most persuaded to buy when the price is right. But price comes into play in multiple ways.

Shipping, taxes, fees, returns, coupons, discounts and giveaways all matter to consumers.

For retailers, especially independent boutiques and webstores, perks like “free shipping” are being more frequently offered and considered a marketing expense.

For larger chains like Amazon, the net loss is worth the increase in brand reputation. Either way, most retailers are struggling to keep up.

Price, however, is not the only factor that can sway a consumer to purchase. In this section, we’ll explore what exactly closes the deal for today’s shopper.

You’ve Already Done 85% of the Work

Having more than one sales channel is critical to success in today's ecommerce environment. We sell through several online marketplaces as well as our own site, and doing so helps us mitigate big changes to a specific channel that could negatively affect sales.

My advice would be to identify online marketplaces that have similar customer demographics to your own customers, and then find a feed manager software solution that can can easily pull from your site's product database.

You've already done 85% of the work for your own site, including product descriptions, shipping weight data, etc. so leverage that work in order to get in front of other people's customers as well.

— Jason Boyce, Co-founder & CEO, Dazadi

Most important influencing factors

The top three factors Americans rank as “very” or “extremely” influential in determining where they shop are:

  1. Price (87%)
  2. Shipping cost and speed (80%)
  3. Discount offers (71%)

Seniors are an outlier to the pricing trifecta, as they are less influenced by discount offers than other generations (47% to 74%).

Almost a quarter of online shoppers (23%) are influenced by social media recommendations, and 42% find recommendations from friends and family influential — twice the number who cite advertisements as influential.

Interestingly, younger generations self-report as more receptive to advertising; Millennials and Gen Xers are nearly twice as likely as older generations to find advertising influential.

Surprised? We’ll dive into that in more detail later.

PRICE IS JUST PART OF THE EQUATION

Customers place more value in the overall experience they have with your brand, than in merely getting the lowest price. Service, shipping, convenience and ease-of-use are all essential to turning customers into repeat customers.

— Christina Dam, Product Marketing Lead at Square

Reviews vs. advertisements vs. friends and family

There is something shifting among generations as to how reviews, advertisements, and friends and family influence a purchasing decision.

42% of online shoppers find recommendations from friends and family influential, 23% are influenced by social media recommendations and reviews, and 21% cite advertisements as influential.

Although advertisements were rated the least influential purchasing factor, the data showed that younger generations are more receptive to advertising than older ones. Millennials and Gen Xers fare nearly twice as likely as Baby Boomers and Seniors to find ads influential (27% vs. 14%). This may be due to the constantly shifting nature of online advertising.

Identify Synonyms in Channel Opportunities

Brands should begin their omnichannel strategy by first identifying similarities of audience makeup, then identifying synonyms in the channel opportunities.

Similar audiences between the brands existing marketing and sales strategies and those of the new channel opportunity will allow them to be more cost effective on marketing efforts, customer service and support, fulfillment, accounting, etc.

Synonyms in channel opportunities means certain channels have similar requirements to one another to maintain successful outcomes in. For instance, certain channels will need more UGC or technical collateral. Others will need more social promotion or email efforts.

Finding those similarities allows the brands to keep costs down as they're deploying across channels which can be key for success.

— Jordan Brannon, President and COO, Coalition Technologies

Conversion killers and online pain points — what makes consumers abandon cart

At the end of the day, it doesn’t matter how much traffic an online store receives — if no one actually buys, the business will perish.

The average ecommerce conversion rate for a U.S. online store is between 2-3%. So, for every 100 visitors a site receives, less than four people will purchase an item. This creates an ROI issue. Advertising is expensive, and so is creating a quality customer experience that generates reviews or word of mouth to drive more sales.

Abandoned carts continue to be an issue for retailers of all sizes, with the average abandoned cart rate at 69%.

What’s stopping consumers from buying once they add to cart? Cost is a big issue.

Our data shows that 66% of Americans have decided not to buy an item because of shipping costs: that’s 72% of women and 59% of men.

After cost, the natural limitations of buying online are the leading causes of abandoned carts.

Nearly half of respondents (49%) cited not being able to touch, feel or try a product as one of their least favorite aspects of online shopping. Another 34% said difficult-to-return items and long delivery estimates were also a pain.

Finally, site design also matters:

21% of Americans state that unattractive or hard-to-navigate websites are frustrating when buying online.

A well-designed store is essential to decreasing abandonment and increasing sales.

Opportunities Can Be Distracting

It’s easy to get distracted by the many channels that are available to you, but start simple by selling through eBay, Amazon and your own website. You can move on to further channels as soon as you understand more about your products and what sells.

It’s also important not to forget about traditional sales methods, like with a brick-and-mortar store, with BigCommerce’s Square integration, running an EPOS system within a shop or at a show and event is easy.

Just remember that not everything has to be listed everywhere.

— Rupert Cross, Digital Director, 5874

What Americans want more of from online stores

Shoppers appreciate stores that recreate the in-person buying experience using:

  • images (78%)
  • reviews (69%)
  • comparisons (46%)
  • testimonials (42%)
  • video (30%)

These immersive features help alleviate the fact that 49% of online shoppers dislike not being able to touch, feel or try out a product.

Here is what Americans would like to see more of from online stores.

IT PAYS TO GET REVIEWS

Not being able to interact with a product before buying can be a turn-off. Encourage customers who have bought to post reviews. Few tactics are more effective than social proof.

— Christina Dam, Product Marketing Lead at Square

How Americans feel about online shopping

Online shopping is more convenient than ever, and many Americans admit to purchasing from absolutely anywhere — and occasionally in an altered state of mind. So it stands to reason that not all purchases are home runs.

In our study, 42% of online shoppers said they’ve made a purchase they later regret, and 21% have accidentally bought something they didn’t want.

Omnichannel is a Mindset

Once you've established your brand in that channel, use that relationship and authority to bring people over to other channels.

Omnichannel is as much a mindset as a toolset.

A company can achieve dramatic, company-wide success with omnichannel retail. However, a successful omnichannel strategy starts with an innovative culture – one that focuses on how customers shop today, how they buy, and then makes that entire commerce experience seamless for them across all channels.

Know your customers and relentlessly pursue them based on your knowledge.

— Donald Pettit, Sales & Partners Manager, SalesWarp

Shopping regret

As mentioned above, 42% of Americans have made a purchase they later regret. Millennials are the most likely to experience buyer’s regret than any other generation (51% v 37%). Here’s how it breaks down.

Listen to Your Customers

As on online retailer, we obviously want to grow our primary brand which accounts for 90% of our revenue. One cornerstone to our success has been putting the customer first. We offer industry leading support but realize it doesn't stop there.

Start by listening to the customers and work to enhance their experience. While we think it through from our perspective, we need to put on the customer's shoes and view the shopping experience from their perspective.

— Bill Bailey CEO Bill Bailey LLC, Nodal Ninja

Overspending

Nearly half of online shoppers (48%) reported overspending on a purchase. Millennials and Gen Xers lead overspending at 55%, followed by 38% of Baby Boomers and Seniors.

BE OPEN ABOUT COSTS, PROVIDE OPTIONS

Include additional costs such as shipping and taxes upfront, throughout the buying process, to reduce cart abandonment. And offer options — while some customers prefer to wait and save a few dollars, others will happily pay for faster delivery.

— Christina Dam, Product Marketing Lead at Square

How important is online shopping?

For many Americans, online shopping is an indispensable part of life. In fact, 40% of those surveyed said they couldn’t live without it.

Seniors are the least digital-dependent among us; Millennials, Gen Xers and Baby Boomers were more than twice as likely to say they couldn’t live without online shopping (43% to 20%).

What would consumers give up before online shopping? Turns out, quite a bit!

Respondents were nearly twice as likely to say they could not live without online shopping compared to streaming music (40% to 21%). And they were 8x as likely to say they could not live without online shopping compared to dating apps (40% to 5%).

When it comes to priorities, Americans favor shopping over first dates and music.

You Can’t Do This Alone

Ask yourself if you have the man-power to maintain both a physical and online site. It is so important to have a dedicated "shop" person as well as someone handling and maintaining your online and social media presence.

You cannot do it alone.

Choose a software that will integrate inventory with your online store as well as your physical location. This is the most important aspect of having a dual presence.

The worst case scenario is selling the "last one" in shop only to find out that someone placed an online order for the exact item.

It happens more often than not. It costs you extra money, makes the online customer upset and causes stress and anxiety you don't need. Go through the financial pros and cons of opening a physical location; building, rent, utilities, security, inventory, equipment, salary, marketing, taxes and time.

— Suzanne Moore, Narrator, All About Suzy

Where do retailers fit into the equation?

Running alongside the study you’ve been reading was another study of 1,164 U.S. business owners conducted by Square and Mercury Analytics. They wanted to know which channels businesses sell through, to determine how many of them were either multi-channel or omni-channel sellers.

Of those surveyed, 56% had a physical store, while 21% have either a pop-up store, or do pop-up stalls at events.

Only 34% sold through their own website (using a website building platform), 25% through Facebook (40% on social media as a whole, including Instagram and Pinterest).

One of the most shocking stats, however, is that just 16% of those surveyed sold through Amazon — not great considering how almost half of purchases begin on these kind of platforms.

With reference to how customers prefer to pay, 76% of respondents accept credit cards in person, while only 42% accept them online (a statistic that could become a non-issue with the implementation of Square).

What does this mean for merchants in terms of profits? The average annual processing volume for Square ecommerce merchants is 47% higher than the average annual processing volume for Square merchants who don’t use Square’s ecommerce API.

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How do all of these statistics relate?

In short: Retailers need to be doing more to meet the needs and behaviors of customers wherever they are, be that on mobile, desktop, in-store while browsing or within apps and on social.

The buying habits of individuals are somewhat fickle, but they are not impossible to influence.

Setting up an online store and then waiting for the money to roll in simply won’t work like you think. Omni-channel selling is about being proactive in getting in front of customers when and where they’re likely to make a purchase.

If you want that money, then like sales pros of old, you’d better be willing to go where the customer is.

Ready to Do Omnichannel?

If you’re ready to open up another channel for sales it’s really important to remember this is a NEW channel so it needs its own unique marketing strategy!

Here’s a quick outline to kickstart your new channel strategy:

  • Define your ideal customer: Who is your target demographic for your new channel? For example, if you’re noticing a purchase pattern with a millennial age group, perhaps Instagram could be a good channel for you. If so, define who you will target on Instagram. You can gain insight into who a popular target demo would be by revisiting your buyer personas and coupling that with analysis of your purchase funnel — who is buying what? This is a good starting point.
  • Define your goals: Don’t go into a new channel with zero goals! Nailing down a goal prior to your new channel launch is crucial so you can measure your ROI. If the goal is email signups — define it. If the goal is increased sales of a particular product — define it. Outlining this at the beginning will save you a lot of headaches later down the road.
  • Define your acquisition funnel: Pencil out your acquisition funnel: attract, acquire, nurture, convert and retain. Know what you’re going to do for each step.
  • Know your metrics & track (almost) everything from day one: You should begin tracking everything immediately so that you can start gathering data around your customer behavior. Making early changes in any step of your funnel that is low-performing can be a good way to pivot and re-route you to a successful omnichannel experience.

— Erik Christiansen, CEO, Justuno

Developing your omni-channel strategy

Technology has wholly disrupted the retail industry. Consumers are no longer loyal to a single brand or type of shopping. They now shop in an omni-channel fashion, sometimes buying on a mobile device while in a brick-and-mortar store, or browsing a marketplace before heading to a category-specific site.

It’s imperative for brands to truly understand their target customer, then dig deep on how that persona purchases.

For instance, webstores and category-specific online stores have a leg up on selling gifts and flowers. However, if you’re a webstore selling clothing, shoes and accessories, you’ll also want to list on a marketplace or go the wholesale route to get your items in a large retailer like Nordstrom.

After all, most consumers looking for those items begin their search on and eventually purchase from one of those platforms. If you aren’t there, they won’t be buying from you.

We’ll be following up over the next few weeks with additional deep dives into various aspects of the data and trends uncovered by our study. Stay tuned!

In the meantime, do you have any feedback, questions, concerns or insights you’d like to share? Drop them in the comments below.

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