More proof that if you as a retailer AREN'T making a seamless offline/online experience the core of your growth strategy (including budgeting, staffing, product strategy, etc.) you should be by now.
This article in BrandWeek sums up the latest Forrester Research on the subject. Tamara Mendelsohn, a Senior Analyst with Forrester said that 51% of consumers are researching all of their purchases online prior to buying offline. That's a HUGE amount... and according to reports... this is an average across all verticals.
What does that mean? A couple of things: First, sharpening search strategy is even more important than ever. Next, you MUST have a web-to-store, store-to-web integrated strategy at LEAST on the drawing boards... if not implemented. Systems and processes need to be able to support this trend (which by the way the report cites as continuing to increase) and you are leaving more than enough money on the table at this point to justify the cost. Finally... the last traces of doubt about an ecommerce site and strategy should be gone from your organization. This is as important as operating your stores... it is VITAL to your overall success as a retailer in the US, and even more so abroad.