Consumers on the Changing Role of Digital Channels in the Purchase Journey

October 3, 2014

Capgemini-Changing-Role-Digital-Channels-Purchase-Journey-Oct2014Few digital shoppers in developed countries feel that social media will play an increased role in their shopping journeys over the next 3 years, though most consumers in emerging markets such as the BRIC countries disagree. That’s according to a recent report [download page] from Capgemini, which also finds consumers placing less importance on the role of social media than they did 2 years ago. Indeed, compared to the 2012 survey, consumers place less importance on social media in the awareness, choice, and post-sales stages of the shopper journey across each of the 5 verticals measured (food, health, fashion, DIY and electronics). In each case, websites appear significantly more important to the journey, while the role that smartphones play is on the rise.

Those trends ought to continue, according to the survey results. Based on more than 18,000 respondents across 18 markets, the study finds that:

  • Two-thirds of respondents overall expect an increase in online ordering direct from brand manufacturers over the next 3 years;
  • 2 in 3 also expect more ordering from online retail stores;
  • Slightly more than half (53%) feel that the role of in-store digital devices will increase;
  • Roughly half believe that the role of mobile apps from brand manufacturers (51%), third parties (50%), and retailers (49%) will increase; while
  • Fewer than half (47%) feel that the role of social media for retail will increase.

Those overall averages mask some significant discrepancies by country, as digital shoppers from emerging markets in particular have far higher expectations for the use of social media and mobile apps than do those in developed markets. For example, only 3 in 10 respondents in the US expect the role of social media to increase, while 76% of shoppers in India and 72% in Turkey feel that way.

In other interesting results from the survey:

  • Only 14% of respondents overall strongly feel that physical stores have become less important for them, although 51% believe that they will spend more money online than in-store in the future;
  • The physical store beats out the internet for consumers when carrying out retail transactions, but the internet is the preferred medium for researching product and promotion information and making product choices;
  • Some 48% agree that they will increasingly use stores as showrooms instead of purchase destinations;
  • More than 7 in 10 agree that they expect online prices to be lower than those in-store and in catalogs;
  • Roughly two-thirds across the world agree that they want the ability to opt in and out of receiving offers from retailers;
  • Only half agree that they trust their favorite retailers to use their personal data responsibly and for their benefit;
  • Close to half (46%) don’t mind if their behavior in-store is observed; but
  • Only 29% don’t mind when a retailer uses their social media data.

About the Data: The online sample panel was made up of 18,000 consumers – 1,000 from each of 18 countries – aged 18+. The composition of the consumer sample in each country was based on projectable national samples representative of the population from the standpoint of age and gender. Additional demographic factors examined included income, education, employment and marital status. All respondents had used digital channels and/or devices at least once or more during the shopping process in the three months prior to taking the survey.

The fieldwork was carried out from May 12 – June 23, 2014 and was programmed and hosted by ORC International.

The 18 countries representing mature and high-growth markets, were: Australia; Brazil; Canada; China; Finland; France; Germany; India; Italy; Japan; Mexico; Netherlands; Portugal; Russia; Spain; Sweden; UK; and the USA.


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