Multi-channel - the bold response to the crisis?

Almost twice as many consumers shop multi-channel than exclusively offline

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65% of Austrians (aged 16-74) do both online and offline shopping (multi-channel shoppers). Channel hopping has thus become the norm among broad sections of the population. Just under 1% order all retail products via the Internet (exclusive online shoppers) and 34% shop exclusively in stores (exclusive offline shoppers). Fifteen years ago, it was the other way round.

But what distinguishes multi-channel shoppers from exclusive online shoppers? Multi-channel shoppers tend to be younger, have comparatively higher purchasing power, are more likely to try to save money on their retail purchases (rather than on other expenses) during the inflation crisis, and are to a greater extent more quality-conscious in their purchases.

"The era of single-channel distribution strategies seems to be coming to an end, not least because consumers are simply demanding freedom of choice of channel (online & offline) and multi-channel shoppers are the more attractive customer group in terms of size and purchasing power. The retail trade - also in Austria - is almost doomed to multi-channeling," explains Dr. Ernst Gittenberger from the Institute of Retailing, Sales and Marketing (IHaM) the current study results.

"For years, multi-channel has been an integral part of discussions surrounding retail trends. But beware, what sounds so simple in consulting practice is treacherous, because what is often forgotten are the resources required for this. What is also little discussed is whether multi-channel makes sense for every retailer. Answer: Of course not, because it depends on the distribution preference of the core clientele and the innovative strength or capability of the retailer. However, if the metamorphosis into a multi-channel retailer is successful, it can generate a strategic competitive advantage that is difficult to imitate. Multi-channel is therefore a courageous response to the crisis," says Prof. Dr. Christoph Teller, head of the Institute, summing up the results of the analysis by the Institute of Retailing, Sales and Marketing (IHaM).