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The cross-channel behaviour of consumers – a challenge and an opportunity for retailers

In December 2012 the E-Commerce-Center Cologne (ECC Handel), one of the leading research institutes for online commerce and retail, surveyed more than 2,500 consumers in cooperation with hybris on their use of multiple distribution channels to obtain information and to make purchases.

Consumers from Germany, Austria and Switzerland were interviewed for the report. The study explores and quantifies the effects the different sales channels ie. brick and mortar stores, print catalogues as well as online stores have on each other. In regards to online stores, in order to be able to analyze the special characteristics of mobile e-commerce the report differentiates between whether the store is accessed using a PC or laptop or via smartphone. The differences in cross-channel behaviour between German, Austrian and Swiss consumers were also examined.


The analysis focused on the following key questions:

  • To what extent do consumers search for information via one distribution channel before purchasing through another distribution channel?
  • To what extend do consumers remain loyal to a provider if they switch channels between searching for information and purchasing a product?
  • Which factors cause consumers to change from one distribution channel when searching for information to another when purchasing a product?
  • To what extent do the distribution channels cannibalise each other?
  • How strong are the reciprocal effects that smartphones and other distribution channels have on each other?
  • How does the behaviour of consumers differ in Germany, Austria and Switzerland?

Take advantage of these latest findings for your business. Understand the cross-channel behaviour of your customers and identify which steps you need to take to achieve a seemless integration of all sales channels.



ECC Studie  

The E-Commerce-Center Cologne at the IFH Institut für Handelsforschung GmbH (Trade Research Institute) has focused on online commerce since 1999. The online experts work on scientific studies, commissioned projects and events posing questions concerning the issues of multi-channel, payments, mobile and online marketing, amongst others. The ECC‘s customers include both trading companies as well as service providers and manufacturers, who benefit from the empirically based research and practice-oriented consultation provided by online experts.