By Aimee Chanthadavong

The retail industry is moving away from using traditional media with a growing focus now on multi-channel networks, Sean Sands, research fellow of Australian Centre for Retail Studies (ACRS) said at the launch of the 2011 Global Retail Insights survey.

The survey, which was conducted by Salmat, Google and the ACRS to find the latest data and trends around online retail, eCommerce and multichannel retailing, indicated that a 5.1 point average of consumers are making contact via the online space before they even make a purchase through online research or the retailer’s website.

Despite this, it appears that a majority of consumers are still purchasing in-store, Sands said.

Google Australia retail industry analyst Andrew Eckford highlighted that the different media outlets out there are influencing the way retailers are connecting to their consumers.

“We’re seeing a channel that is becoming more complex,” he said.

“In the last 12 months, there’s been a lot of change in this space. What has changed is the way retailers have addressed the change versus how much product they have made available in the online space.”

The survey showed the most common channel was the physical store stand alone store at 83 per cent followed by online at 65 per cent and a physical store in a shopping centre at 54 per cent.

But it was pointed out that smart phone and mobile devices would change the next generation of shopping habits forever.

Eckford said that while it has been the year of the mobile for a while he confirmed confidently that the 2011 will be the year, “as it will become more mainstream” with Google placing great focus on developing future products for mobile first and then products for desktop PCs second.

Sands agrees saying: “mobile phones will become the wallet of the future. It’s revolutionary in the way consumers will engage with it.”

The study found the growth of access websites through mobile in 2009 was 24 per cent and grew rapidly to 33 per cent in 2010.