Multi-channel retailing entails the parallel use by retailing enterprises of several sales channels. The results of an online buyer survey which has been conducted to investigate the impact of multi-channel retailing (i.e. the use of several retail channels by one retail company) on consumer behaviour show that the frequently expressed concern that the application of multichannel systems in retailing would be associated with cannibalization effects, has proven unfounded. Indeed, the appropriate degree of similarity, consistency, integration and agreement achieves the exact opposite. Different channels create different advantages for consumers. Therefore the total benefit an enterprise which has a multi-channel system can offer to its consumers is larger, the greater the number of available channels. The use of multi-channel systems is associated with additional purchases in the different channels. Such systems are thus superior to those offering only one sales channel to their customers. Furthermore, multichannel systems with integrated channels are superior to those in which the channels are essentially autonomous and independent of one another. In integrated systems, consumers can achieve synergy effects in the use of sales-channel systems. Accordingly, when appropriately formulated, multi-channel systems in retailing impact positively on consumers. They use the channels more frequently, buy more from them and there is a positive customer-loyalty impact. Multi-channel systems are strategic options for achieving customer loyalty, exploiting customer potential and for winning new customers. They are thus well suited for approaching differing and varied target groups.
Hanna Schramm-Klein, Dirk Morschett