By Daniel Hunter

The latest Transactis Home Shopping Index shows that in the age of digital mobility, the web has become even more crucial as a means for home shopping retailers to reach the multichannel and multi-device consumer.

The Index, which uses consumer insight firm Transactis’ proprietary database TransAction — built from the transactions of 39 million consumers across 205 home shopping brands — reveals that online purchasing continues to rise despite a tough economic environment for retailers, but that year-on-year growth in buying over the web slowed in the first half of 2012 after picking up in 2011.

Online spend soared by an encouraging 17% in 2011 — compared to 10% the year before — as UK consumers were cheered by brighter economic news and a slight increase in Gross Domestic Product (GDP). However, consumers appear to have returned to more cautious ways in 2012 as the UK headed back into recession. Figures for the first half of 2012 show the rate of growth in web spend fell to 11% during the first six months of the year.

Nonetheless, the Index, which encompasses purchases of fashion items, household goods, children’s merchandise, gadgets, home furnishings and other products through catalogues and websites, demonstrates that online shopping has emerged as the primary driver in the retail marketplace despite the rate of growth slipping slightly in recent years.

Overall, the Home Shopping Index reveals that online spend has leapt by 243% between the base year of 2006 and 2011, whereas the total increase in combined online and offline home shopping spend in the six years covered by the Index is only 29%. The continuing, albeit slower, web spend growth in 2012 came at a time when total home shopping spend actually dropped by just under 1%.

2011 marked a watershed in home retail: it is the first year covered by the Index in which average annual web spend per person outstripped the corresponding figure for all home shopping media — indicating that online has indeed surpassed traditional channels such as mail order, as more people made the majority of their purchases and spent more of their money overall online. The figures for the first half of 2012 show this trend continuing.

“The Transactis Home Shopping Index demonstrates that the internet has firmly taken its place as the cornerstone of the modern home retail mix, but digital continues to grow and evolve as new technologies come into play," Michael Green, Director of Insight at Transactis, said.

"Even in the face of tough economic times, ecommerce has continued to capture new spend and play a bigger role in people’s everyday lives. As the range, capabilities and adoption of digital devices continue to increase, retailers will find that managing relationships with home shopping customers becomes a more challenging task.

“The proliferation of tablets, smartphones and other portable devices has meant that the patterns of individual consumers are far from set. Not only are the ways in which consumers interact with retailers changing, but so is the ability of companies to follow and make sense of customer behaviour across multiple touch points.

"In what has become a fast-changing and complex shopping environment tracking, understanding and interpreting individual behaviour in order to create actionable strategies to engender loyalty and repeat purchase is increasingly important. The ability to take many sources of structured and unstructured data and form a single customer view is essential as marketers seek to effectively target and tailor their offers and communications.”

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