Consumers on Board: how to copilot the multichannel journey

Setting a course with guidance

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People are smart. We are, after all, homo sapiens; “wise man.” Today, our intelligence is augmented by access to information at a speed and on a scale inconceivable to our ancestors.

We do more than just use IT: we thrive on the information that technology enables us to unearth and organize. To some extent, we’ve evolved into “homo informaticus.” And key to this has been the development of an unprecedented skill for filtering information to find what we want.

Although online remains dominant, according to our research, we are adept at researching across all channels.

The wide choice of channels — websites, physical stores, coupons, auctions, etc. — has shifted the balance of power in the customer’s favor. Consumers no longer have to deal direct with vendors to access information. Aware of the many different options and offers on the market, they are keen to find the best deal that gives good value for money.

EY Consumers on Board: Extent to which the following factors influence the selection process

Try before you buy

Customers may decide, initially, to rent and test a product so they can learn more about it. Swapping goods with others is also sometimes a way of finding out more before buying, or because it is seen as more sustainable.

Nevertheless, the rise of swapping and buying second hand is mainly being driven by customers wanting a good deal. There is now a widespread reluctance to pay the list price or manufacturer’s recommended retail price for goods and services. The success of auction sites such as eBay and others offering an online discount, such as Amazon, has made it easier to get good quality for less.

Attitudes have changed. There is now far less stigma associated with buying second hand or borrowing, and we only have to look at the rise of the corporate procurement professional to see how highly valued buying at a good price is.

A huge choice – and the option to compare

A growing appreciation of the breadth of available alternatives has made consumers reluctant to buy without first considering all the options.

As it is now very easy to make comparisons on the shopping journey, consumers are much more aware of current deals and actively search for the best price. In other words, they have become more thorough and more cautious. Our research underlines this trend.

We see a marked shift toward buying online — and a corresponding decline in high-street shopping — for most of the categories we covered. The only categories to remain stable in-store were cars, consumer loans and telephone and mobile contracts.