Social media not yet taking over in-store shopping, but integrated engagement crucial to creating value: PwC

Report demystifies the online shopper by analyzing myths of multi-channel retailing

TORONTO, Jan. 28, 2013 /CNW/ - When it comes to shopping, platforms like Facebook and Twitter aren't replacing the in-store experience, says a PwC report on the myths of multi-channel spending released today. According to the Multi-Channel Retail Survey, while 42% of Canadians use social media at least once a day and an additional 17% use these channels once a week, just 7% of these consumers are using social platforms to shop.

However, the report shows consumers are still using social media to engage with retailers and gain more information about companies' value propositions. Nearly half of those surveyed (44%) say they use social platforms to follow their favourite brands--a trend that PwC advises Canadian retailers to take notice of.

Robert Scott, PwC's National Consumer, Industrial Products and Services Leader says, "Social media is a daily part of life for many Canadians and with increased competition for market share and more US retailers entering the Canadian market, companies now need a strategy that allows them to connect with customers directly online, while still providing a seamless in-store experience."

He continues, "It has become crucial for retailers to create a platform that focuses on engagement and conversation and puts the emphasis on building strong and lasting relationships with consumers."

Price not always king
The report analyzes the factors that consumers take into account when choosing brands, and surprisingly, cost isn't always top of mind. In fact, while nearly three-quarters (74%) of respondents say that price is important when deciding where to shop, this factor is outranked by five other drivers-- the products on offer, ease of using the retailer's website, a good return policy, a sense of trust in the brand or retailer, and the stores themselves.

"For the savvy consumer, value isn't just about price," says Scott. "Shoppers want the whole package, and as a result, brand personality and access are what drive customer choice and ultimately grow revenue. This further emphasizes the need for retailers to make meaningful engagement with consumers a priority, both online and off."

Other Canadian highlights from the 2013 Global Multi-Channel Retail Survey include:

  • Canadian brands find themselves in a tough struggle against their US competitors. Only three Canadian companies (Chapters Indigo, Canadian Tire and The Bay) rank amongst the top ten favourite multi-channel retailers for consumers.

  • In Canada, physical stores aren't going anywhere soon. A quarter of respondents (compared to 17% globally) say they rarely, if ever, shop online. And, of the countries surveyed, Canada is second only to Russia when it comes to rejecting online shopping.

  • Brands have the opportunity to overtake retailers as the preferred place to purchase. While just 39% of Canadian shoppers are shopping at brand sites, the trend globally is shifting, as more than half of consumers in both China (56%) and the US (52%) are going to the brand directly.

  • The multi-channel experience leads to more spending. When Canadian consumers shop both online and in-store, the majority (53%) spend more at their favourite retailer than they would through a single-channel like in-store only. Furthermore, almost a third (30%) increase their spending by at least 10%.

  • Tablets aren't yet at the point of replacing the PC as the preferred online shopping device. Just 14% of Canadians who shop online say they make purchases on a tablet at least once a month—well below the 56% who indicate that they use their PC to shop. This gap isn't expected to change rapidly within the next year, as only 8% plan to make more purchases using a tablet, compared to nearly a quarter (24%) who expect to expand their shopping through their PC. Smartphone purchasing isn't making serious inroads either, suggesting that the PC will remain the preferred device for online shopping for the foreseeable future.

About the 2013 Global Multi-Channel Retail Survey
The 2013 Global Multi-Channel Retail Survey separates fact from fiction and analyzes 10 myths of mult-channel retailing. PwC's International Survey Unit undertook the study in order to understand and compare consumer shopping behaviour and spot the patterns in multi-channel across 11 countries: Brazil, Canada, France, Germany, China, Netherlands, Russia, Switzerland, UK, US and Turkey. Over 11,000 individuals participated in the online survey in July and August 2012, including 1,333 in Canada. Results are considered accurate within 3.1 percentage points, 19 times out of 20.

For the infographic related to this report, please go here. For more information, please visit: www.pwc.com/ca/en/retail-consumer/index.jhtml. A copy of the report and infographic is also available from the media contacts.

About PwC Canada
PwC Canada helps organizations and individuals create the value they're looking for. More than 5,700 partners and staff in offices across the country are committed to delivering quality in assurance, tax, consulting and deals services. PwC Canada is a member of the PwC network of firms with more than 180,000 people in 158 countries. Find out more by visiting us at www.pwc.com/ca.

© 2012 PricewaterhouseCoopers LLP, an Ontario limited liability partnership. All rights reserved.

PwC refers to the Canadian member firm, and may sometimes refer to the PwC network. Each member firm is a separate legal entity. Please see www.pwc.com/structure for further details.

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SOURCE: PwC (PricewaterhouseCoopers)

For further information:

Contacts:

Emily Abrahams
T: +1 416 863 1133 ext. 13845
Email: emily.r.abrahams@ca.pwc.com

Abby Yung
T: +1 416 687 8644
Email: abby.yung@ca.pwc.com