What Brings Customer Back? Choices . / Credit: Dreamstime.com

Variety may be considered the spice of life, but it is also a valuable asset for businesses looking to improve their bottom line. That’s because, in a recent survey, more than 80 percent of consumers said they would become repeat customers if businesses offered a variety of shopping options and experiences across several channels.  In particular, a majority of customers wanted the ability to return online purchases in-store and the ability to pick up online orders in-store, according to the survey. 

"Consumers are shopping on a variety of channels and devices, often simultaneously, with new technology introduced virtually every day," said Steven Kramer, North American president at hybris, a provider of multichannel commerce and communication software. "What we have found is that consumers have expectations that their favorite retailers will be accessible to them anytime and anywhere. Retailers who aren’t keeping up with the latest technology will find their customers moving to a retailer who will."

With more shoppers turning to online and mobile means of shopping, the research found that businesses would benefit greatly by catering to this new generation of consumers. According to the research, nearly 40 percent of respondents made more purchases online than in-store and that number is only set to grow in the coming year with nearly half of the respondents saying they will increase online shopping during this year's holiday season. Additionally, nearly 20 percent of customers said they use smartphones while shopping in a store to either compare prices and products or read reviews online about products.

[Shoppers Trust Strangers' Advice When Shopping Online]

While the move to mobile and online shopping can create a significant challenge to retailers, it can also offer an opportunity to stores and websites that are prepared. Websites with easy navigation, a simple checkout process, many images of products and low shipping costs were most likely to attract repeat customers, according to the survey. Additionally, a majority of mobile shoppers also said personalized offers sent to their phones and in-store mobile promotions on their phones when shopping would make them repeat customers also.    

“We see a significant portion of online shoppers are turned off by high shipping costs,” said Kramer. “Since consumers remain relatively price-sensitive, retailers should consider store-based fulfillment strategies such as buy online, pick up in-store. In addition to omnichannel retailing strategies eliminating barriers to purchasing, they also present opportunities for retailers to sell more once they get customers in the store. These strategies also improve inventory productivity. The technology and expertise to quickly deploy an omnichannel retailing strategy is available, and now is the time for brands to address these concerns ahead of the major summer, back-to-school and holiday shopping rushes. Those retailers that wait will be at a competitive disadvantage.”

The information in this research was based on the responses of 500 consumers in the United States.  The research was a part of the hybris 2012 Multichannel Shopping Survey. 

Reach BusinessNewsDaily staff writer David Mielach at Dmielach@techmedianetwork.com. Follow him on Twitter @D_M89.