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Sterling Commerce Survey Demonstrates That U.S. Consumers’ Cross-Channel Expectations on the Rise, Even in Economic Decline

Sterling Commerce Survey Highlights the Need for Australian Retailers to Enhance the Complete Shopping Experience to Grow Revenue
  • 10 February, 2009 06:49

<p>Melbourne, 10 February 2009 – Sterling Commerce, an AT&amp;T Inc. (NYSE:T) company, today announced the results of its third annual U.S. consumer survey focused on how consumers want to interact with retailers across channels. The survey found that consumers’ cross-channel expectations continue to rise, even in tough economic times, and that earning consumer loyalty can play a role in increasing sales.</p>
<p>“The survey suggests that Australian retailers who can deliver a seamless experience across multiple channels are best positioned to gain increased customer loyalty and revenue per customer,” said Josh Brammer, a Sydney-based Client Manager for Retail and Supply Chain at Sterling Commerce.</p>
<p>Sterling Commerce conducted the survey in January 2009 and polled 1,017 adults in the U.S. on their shopping habits over the past three months.</p>
<p>The survey found that 58 percent say that, considering recent economic conditions, in the past three months they have made a conscious effort to limit shopping to retailers where they felt a sense of loyalty. A sense of retailer loyalty was most prevalent among shoppers in the 55 to 64 year-old age range (65 percent). The recent economic conditions also affected other shopping trends:</p>
<p>- Nearly two-thirds of consumers (65 percent) report they recently held off on making purchases, waiting for sale prices. Among the most careful were consumers with children (71 percent).</p>
<p>- 40 percent of all consumers said they made a conscious effort to hold off buying something online because it didn’t offer free shipping.</p>
<p>- A fourth of consumers (27 percent) have made a conscious effort in the past three months to avoid retailers where they were worried about potential security breaches.</p>
<p>“As economic conditions worsen both in the U.S. and Australia, retailers must make it as easy as possible for consumers to shop, regardless of how many touchpoints they have with the retailer,” said Brammer. “As this survey shows, consumers are demanding new levels of convenience only found when retailers effectively bridge their cross-channel environments.”</p>
<p>The survey shows that consumers want a seamless experience across channels and their expectations are rising. Increasingly, consumers want to channel-hop to complete their purchases, making integration across channels essential to retail success. For example:</p>
<p>- 57 percent of consumers feel it is very important to be able to return merchandise to a store even if it was purchased via telephone or online, up from 41 percent last year.</p>
<p>- 35 percent of consumers feel it is very important to be able to pick up merchandise at a store after ordering online, double last year’s number (17 percent last year).</p>
<p>- In addition to wanting to pick up at and return items to the store, most consumers also want both call centre and store personnel to have a record of what you’ve purchased from that retailer in the past, regardless of whether it was in to store, online, or via a call centre. Overall, 33 percent consider this to be very important.</p>
<p>Across the board, more consumers are channel-hopping to complete their sales. The survey found:</p>
<p>- Three-fifths of in-store shoppers (60 percent) have gone online to do research or look at an item before purchasing it in a store</p>
<p>- 30 per cent have taken an online coupon or rebate offer to the store (up from 24 percent),</p>
<p>- Research also is going mobile, with one in eleven consumers (9 percent) reporting that they have accessed information about an item via their mobile phone.</p>
<p>“We expect 2009 to be the year of multi-channel retailing for Australia,” said Brammer. “Though the concept of Cross-Channel retailing is far more complex than simply operating multiple channels, consumer expectations are there and retailers must respond if they want to maintain their current customer base and capture new sales.”</p>
<p>Sterling Commerce solutions for retailers in Australia include the Sterling Selling and Fulfillment Suite, a comprehensive solution for the entire inquiry-to-cash process. The latest version boasts broadened e-commerce capabilities for the store and call centre to enhance the cross-channel shopping experience, and new inventory management capabilities to drive operational efficiency and reduce costs.</p>
<p>Sterling Commerce integration solutions for managed file transfer and business-to-business (B2B) connectivity and collaboration maximise efficiency by providing secure connectivity to any partner in any way, controlling community management, and monitoring supplier/carrier performance.</p>
<p>Survey Methodology</p>
<p>The findings are based on a nationwide telephone survey conducted by Opinion Research Corporation as part of its CARAVAN® omnibus survey service. 1,017 adults comprising 502 men and 515 women 18 years of age and older, living in private households in the continental United States. The survey has a sampling error of ±3 percentage points for answers close to 50 percent.</p>
<p>About Sterling Commerce</p>
<p>Sterling Commerce, an AT&amp;T Inc (NYSE:T) company, helps customers thrive in a global economy by connecting their business communities, processes, people and technology. More than 30,000 customers worldwide use Sterling Commerce solutions for business process integration, multi-channel selling, supply chain fulfilment, and payments management to optimise business performance inside and outside their enterprise. Headquartered in Columbus, Ohio, Sterling Commerce has offices in 24 countries with regional offices in Sydney and Melbourne. More information can be found at www.sterlingcommerce.com.au</p>

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