While the latest data shows digital consumers are becoming ever more enthusiastic at multichannel shopping, a new report from Capgemini finds they are less interested in social media than they were two years ago. The report, based on 18,000 digital shoppers from 18 countries, finds that to be especially true in more established world markets, including the U.S., U.K., Europe, and Japan.
Capgemini, a Paris-based company that provides consulting, technology and outsourcing services, finds that consumers consider social a less significant part of the customer journey than they used to. But overall, the Internet is the preferred channel for learning about shopping choices, with 75% describing it as either important or very important. In mature markets, 72% of shoppers say stores are important or very important for actual retail transaction, compared to 67% for the Internet. In fact, only 14% say physical stores are less important to them.
But compared to its 2012 poll, consumers are putting less stock in learning about products through such platforms as Twitter and Facebook, as well as blogs and online retail communities. “Social media is less important to the shopper journey compared with conventional retail store experiences, web, smartphone, email or the use of technologies in-store,” the report says.
"Despite the surge in Facebook’s ad revenues and marketing innovations like Twitter’s new ‘Buy’ button, there is definitely a question mark over where and how ‘social’ fits into the shopper journey,” writes Kees Jacobs, the consulting company’s global digital proposition lead, in its release. “Social media is most relevant in the ‘awareness’ and ‘choice’ phases of shopping journeys (which is especially the case in fashion) but much less in ‘transaction, delivery and post-sales.’ Our report suggests that retailers still have work to do at every stage of the purchasing journey in order to make social media play a useful, valuable role in buying a product or service."
In high-growth markets -- Brazil, Mexico, India and China -- digital channels matter more, with greater reliance on smartphone, social media and in-store technology than all of the mature markets polled. Shoppers in these countries are also keener on personalized offers and recommendations, in sharp contrasts to more mature markets, where such offers are a distinct turnoff. For example, 46% of shoppers in India rate such personalization as extremely important, and 40% of those in Mexico. But in the U.K., just 13% agree, and in France, 15%.
Those in more mature markets are also considerably more concerned about privacy issues.
By industry, the study finds fashion has scored big gains, with a 9% growth in online purchasing preference, “suggesting that apparel companies have made significant strides when it comes to engaging consumers across digital channels.” And a solid majority of consumers all around the world — 72% — overall have developed a universal expectation that online prices will be lower than those in stores, or in catalogs.