While bricks-and-mortar stores and the Internet are dominant retailing channels, mobile and social media have rapidly emerged and challenge traditional retail models and consumer behavior. However, researchers have yet to account for how consumers integrate mobile and social channels throughout the various stages of the buying process. Using Latent-Class Cluster Analysis segmentation, we examine consumer behavior in store, Internet, mobile, and social media channels across the search, purchase and after-sales buying stages in the aggregate and specific to the clothing, holiday travel and consumer electronics categories. We find five multichannel consumer segments on the basis of perceived channel importance across the buying process, as well as psychographic and demographic characteristics. Interestingly, we find a polarization in perceived importance of mobile and social media channels, with two consumer segments rating mobile and social media channels as unimportant in the buying process. Furthermore, and compared to prior segmentations of multichannel consumer behavior, we do not find an aggregate store-focused segment. However, a store-focused segment exists in the context of buying clothing and represents 28.6 per cent of consumers. The findings show multichannel consumer preferences and behavior continues to evolve in line with new and emerging retailing channels. Further, this study confirms that there is no ‘one-size fits all’ approach to multichannel retailing.
- Channel management