Royal Mail finds a nation of home shoppers

Two-thirds of consumers consult a catalogue before buying a product or service, underlining the importance of an integrated, multi-channel approach to distance selling.

The Royal Mail Home Shopping Tracker 2009 found 63 per cent of consumers using catalogues in their buying decisions, whether they eventually purchase online or in-store. That is an increase of 9 per cent over the previous year.

Among consumers who go on to purchase online, 45 per look at a printed catalogue from some source beforehand (up 8 per cent on 2008). A catalogue that had been posted to the consumer was used by 37 per cent of online buyers (up 11 per cent on the previous year).

Channel preferences among cataloguers are also pronounced. A majority (52 per cent) prefer to receive catalogues by post, rather than picking them up in-store, which just 18 per cent prefer.

The survey found that only 17 per cent of consumers go straight to a store to make a purchase without carrying out any form of research online or in a catalogue. Buying from a catalogue having browsed in-store was identified among 24 per cent, while 21 per cent of catalogue buyers also research online and 5 per cent use home shopping TV channels.

Antony Miller, head of media development at Royal Mail, says: “Despite the growth of online retail, the print catalogue still plays a key role for many home shoppers who use them to buy and browse as well as seeking inspiration for new ideas. It is also clear that multichannel shopping is becoming the preferred method for most home shoppers as they research the best deals and consider the convenience of buying remotely.”

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