A survey release by Sterling Commerce (Center for Media Research brief) has useful insights for companies pursuing multi-channel businesses. As the bns.com and best-buys have demonstrated, the click and mortar models of old (as they were once called) have value in today’s world of highly involved and evolved online shoppers. Note the key points of this study
64% of all consumers research products online before making a purchase – this percentage was higher for educated, high-income, young age groups (25-44, >75k, college graduates). The “cross-channel” benefits that topped consumer lists seem obvious – the ability to return items to a store (who wants to queue up in the post office on a weekend?), store pick-up (very handy for last-minute gifts or going out-of-town tomorrow vacationers for instance), gift registry information over the phone, store and web came in third. The survey is an affirmation of sorts for the notion that multichannel marketing helps retailers gain market share and loyalty as consumers channel hop to derive maximum “values”. How would this study apply to the travel industry?
– Most travel sites still make it hard for consumers to find the rooms/packages they want at the prices they like to the destinations they want. While a travel shopper cannot “pick up” a purchase at the store, they might appreciate real-world customer service that is smooth and effortless.
– Snippets of useful information that help the shopper make a decision faster (travel tips, first-time visitor, business traveler, leisure and family, tours etc).
– Having the ability to chat online instantly with a customer-service rep or call in case of quick questions minutes away from a sale.
– Displaying price-options for travel packages (e.g rooms $200-$300 pn) – while this might be tougher for travel because prices are dynamic and inventory changes every minute, letting the consumer know price options will help them decide whether to research further or exit the site.
– Allowing the consumer to save their preferences before they exit the site so they can pick up from where they left off – occasionally travelers spend a lot of time getting to the precise combination of dates, destinations, hotels & airlines only to leave because the final package offer didn’t match their price-range. Such consumers need some prodding to return.