New research conducted by the Australian Centre for Retail Studies (ACRS) suggests that retailers could miss out on enormous sales opportunities if they do not market to their customers across multiple channels.

Titled ‘Value and Optimisation in Multi-Channel Retailing’, the ACRS report sheds light on how Australian consumers value different channels in terms of their pre-purchase, purchase and after-sales behaviour.

While online sales are expected to increase more than 13% annually over the next two years, the report indicates cross-channel sales are expected to grow by 17%.

The report also found that nearly half of all retail transactions are expected to be made by consumers crossing channels, with approximately 36% of Australians purchasing online at least once a month and 6% purchasing a product once every week.

Research fellow at the ACRS, Dr Sean Sands said, “Our results suggest that if a retailer is going to provide consumers with multiple channels, it is not sufficient to offer just a selection of traditional channels such as the internet and a catalogue.

“Retailers that engage consumers effectively across new and emerging channels (such as the iPad, iPhone applications and social media) have a greater impact on shopper behaviour.”

According to the study social media, SMS and iPhone applications are among the most popular ways retailers communicate with consumers – 68% of Australians have registered to receive emails from retailers and 19% opt into communications via SMS.

Additionally, Sands estmates 7% of consumers engage with retailers through an iPhone application and an impressive 23% of consumers engage through social media.

“Truly innovative retailers are increasingly offering additional channels for consumers to interact before the purchase, at the point of purchase and after purchase. Myer is a great example of an Australian retailer who is striving to make developments in each of these areas, and across multiple new and emerging channels,” explained Sands.