Commentary

Omnichannel Shopping Today And The Affluent Shopper

Consumers' shopping experiences have been revolutionized in recent years: Consumers now have the option of shopping digitally wherever they happen to be, as well as in person at brick-and-mortar stores. 

This shopping option has changed not only where consumers shop, but also when and how they shop. Before, they had to walk up and down store aisles, looking for what they wanted and they often made their purchases during the same visit after seeing and handling the items they were interested in buying. 

Today, that shopping paradigm is just one option, as consumers increasingly shop online using their digital devices 24/7. Also, the benefits of online shopping have changed the experience, because many consumers now divide their shopping into two phases: research — searching for what they want to buy — and then actually buying, either at a brick-and-mortar store or at an online store. 

Researching an item and buying the same item are often done at different times (websites don't close at night) and in different places (online or in a store where an item can be seen and touched). Also, it is very easy for consumers to shop around for the best prices online.

Nowhere is this omnichannel shopping approach more evident than among affluent shoppers. As there are different points of view regarding at what household income levels affluence begins, the following exhibits focus on the two shopping phases for all adults and for two affluent household income levels: $75,000 or more, which includes 44% of adults; and $250,000 or more, which includes only the top 4% of adult consumers. 

In the following exhibit, which focuses on consumers' research phase of their shopping journey, three-quarters of all adults report they now conduct this part of their shopping digitally. Notably, the two affluent segments are more oriented to online researching; and the segment with household incomes of $250,000 or more is most likely to use mobile devices (tablets and smartphones) — 28%, compared with 15% for mass-market consumers (with household incomes under $75,000) and 18% for affluent consumers with incomes of $75,000 or more.

Omnichannel Shopping: Research Phase

The following exhibit highlights the buying phase of the shopping process, in which only about half of all adults (46%) report they conduct this phase of their shopping digitally, primarily on computers. Again, the two affluent segments are more oriented to online buying (50% and 56%), and the $250,000-plus segment is least likely to buy in person at a brick-and-mortar store (29% compared with 50% and 41% for the other two segments). Notably, one out of seven (14%) of the highest income segment, a very valuable shopper, uses other ways of making purchases. Of course, these buying habits will differ depending on the goods or services the consumers are purchasing.

Omnichannel Shopping: Buying Phase

It is clear that omnichannel shopping has provided consumers, especially affluent consumers, with more options to consider and use during their shopping journeys, depending on their own shopping habits and what they are considering buying. The merchants and marketers who operate both the brick-and-mortar and the digital stores that service these consumers now conduct their businesses in a much more complex environment than before, with Amazon continuing to disrupt old shopping habits by offering consumers a growing list of benefits through its Prime offerings.

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