Zoom back 10 or even five years ago, and consumers would tell Forrester, “Yes, I use digital channels, but more often than not, I discover, research, or purchase a product offline.” You saw that product on TV, or when looking at a supermarket shelf, or talking to a friend. And imagine buying a sofa online in 2014! Didn’t happen much.
That’s all changed now, and we’ve hit a watershed moment when all of those activities — discovering a product, researching it, and buying it — are more likely to happen online than off.
Here’s a cut of our data specific to the UK from late last year. We asked more than 300 UK adults about how they became aware of a product they recently bought, how they researched it, and how they bought it. Here’s the data specific to clothing and accessories (with green corresponding to an online channel and blue an offline channel):
But that’s just shoes and dresses, right? Surely, furniture’s a different story. No.
But that’s the UK. What about furniture in, say, France? Still digital-first.
It’s a close call, but on the whole, a Frenchman buying a new piece of furniture is more likely to be completing the transaction via a website or app than in a store.
Businesses have dragged their heels to respond to a changed world, grasping desperately at any evidence or studies that tell them that their way of doing things is still really darned effective. Face it, people; your consumers have changed, and it’s time to get busy changing with them and serving them.