There has been a lively discussion on the true identity of the online shopper. One of the most prevalent beliefs is that if all the potential shoppers were grouped they could be neatly divided into two groups, one that shopped online and one that didn’t (with little or no overlap). I have a problem with this theory for two reasons: one is that it forces marketers to deploy two different strategies because the assumption is online shoppers have a different set of motivations. The second reason I am in opposition to this dichotomized view is that it’s flat out wrong.
There is significant overlap between online and offline shoppers. I’d go further and say that the ‘overlap’ is the fastest growing segment. I’d go even further and describe this ‘overlapped’ demographic: I believe these customers first shop offline and then (gradually) migrate online. This migration represents a significant strategic opportunity for retailers not only because it’s a more efficient channel but also because it is completely measurable. Therefore, I would invest a big chunk of my budget toward facilitating this migration. Defection at this stage is the most dangerous kind because it represents a permanent change in behavior. Of all the metrics available to retailers the “% catalogers that transitioned online” and “% store shoppers that transitioned online” is the most important.