When it comes to researching and making a purchase, consumers use all the pathways available to them. Shoppers are increasingly mixing websites, mobile apps and the in-store experience to guide their purchasing decisions, and retailers must take note.

Online shopping proves a better experience
Last month, PYMNTS.com released its quarterly OmniReadi Index, which revealed statistics about the state of multichannel marketing among businesses. The index evaluated retailers on the consistency and added value of their in-store, Web and app experiences, and found consumers who use multiple channels spend more than those who use only one.

While 92 percent of merchants allow both in-store and online payments, only 72 percent of those with mobile apps provide payment solutions across all three channels. Online shopping also provides a greater number of features – consumers are able to create wish lists, view product recommendations, share socially and see their order histories on the Web, but not in stores. 

Ultimately, however, businesses are getting better at marketing across multiple channels. The best-performing business reached an index score of 90 points (out of 100), beating last quarter's best by 12 points.

E-commerce fuels in-store payments
According to MasterCard's Omnishopper Report, 80 percent of consumers sometimes or always use technology when making a purchase. Eighty percent consider themselves smarter shoppers than they were a few years ago, and 68 percent said they get more value from their purchases than they did five years ago.

Still, MasterCard found e-commerce payments account for only 7 to 8 percent of global purchases. Since the use of technology when shopping is so high, it stands to reason the online experience is fueling in-store purchases. Shoppers are using technology to compare different products and choose the right one more often. As the OmniReadi Index pointed out, $1.8 trillion dollars in sales will be influenced by online use by 2017, so there's a lot to be gained by effective online marketing.

Integrating the online and in-store experience
According to Certona, a company specializing in personalizing the consumer experience, it's vital to understand how consumer behavior changes across marketing channels. Doing so allows businesses to personalize a shopper's experience, targeting what they like and encouraging more purchases. The company said many consumers combine channels by using phones and apps inside of stores, working to close the disconnect between the online and in-store experience that PYMNTS.com noted. Certona suggested retailers take advantage of this mobile use by delivering targeted sales and guaranteed price matching.

PYMNTS.com's index found the highest ranking businesses did their best to provide even the most difficult aspects of their service across all channels. Order history, quick checkout, product recommendations and wish lists were available both in stores and online.

Although, according to MasterCard, e-commerce payments do not make up much of the economy, online channels allow consumers to make smarter, more valuable purchases. Businesses must provide a consistent shopping experience online, through apps and in stores to make the most of multichannel marketing.

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