By Aimee Chanthadavong

The way consumers are conducting their pre-purchase research is impacting on the way traditional retailers operate, a new study has revealed.

The study from Global Reviews indicated that participants were most likely to start their buying cycle online. The study looked at consumer buying behaviour for jeans (54 per cent), lounge suites (91 per cent) and air conditioners (100 per cent).

Speaking to RetailBiz, Greg Muller, CEO of Global Reviews, said retailers need to be very conscious of a multi-channel strategy in order to first capture the attention of consumers who are beginning their buying cycle online, despite the fact that consumers still had a preference to go into the store to try and buy.

“Across each product category most people want to go online to go research and compare prices. Their audience is studying with the internet and the opportunity for retailers is to capture their attention online because key brands are being used to in their search. It’s also to help retailers to be associated with a brand and that will also enhance where consumers shop,” he said.

“People are going online as a first step of the process in which they want to know what they want to buy and once they know about 80 per cent prefer to go offline to make the purchase or at least try it on and then buy.

“There are many reasons for that; the top reasons for the influence of purchasing decisions online are shipping costs and security. If people can that this is secure and the costs in relation to shipping is low then they have a great chance of sealing the purchase online.”

The study also found that PCs and laptops were the predominant devices consumers used when completing online purchases while mobile phone and tablets surprisingly made up less than 2 per cent.

However, Muller believes this statistic of how consumers shop will change as the market becomes more adoptive of mobile phones and tablets.

“We’ll see a dramatic increase. What we’re experiencing is that retailers aren’t ready to accept people in the mobile environment. They are improving rapidly but the user experience just isn’t there. For certain purchases it is and retailers are becoming savvy but people want to be able to compare, to zoom up and to look at the different colours. If those offers aren’t there then it makes the experience frustrating and difficult for consumers,” he said.

“What we found is that existing customers are more likely to be looking on a tablet while it’s initial customers that searching on a PC or laptop.”

As a result, the pressure is on for retailers to work harder to retain a consumer audience, which is what Muller highlights when he says that retailers need to begin to understand that the search process for consumers work differently now that there are various avenues such as social media, search engines, comparison sites and store website.

“Australian retailers need to rethink their customer engagement strategy as it relates to the way they engage online, offline and how both of them work together. It’s a new age, new world and old paradigms will not work.”