Half of UK shoppers switch retailers when they move between buying channels, research by IBM showed.

The high proportion, also reflected in US consumer behaviour, illustrates the need for retailers to ensure their brands are properly exploited in the multichannel world.

The study of 4,000 shoppers who began a transaction through one channel and switched to another, such as visiting a store before eventually buying online, revealed that the most common reason for not completing purchases in-store was cheaper online prices. The main reason for not concluding a purchase online and instead going to a shop was desire to examine product.

IBM retail and consumer products industry leader for Northwest Europe Andy Park said that the promiscuity with which consumers switch between retailers when they switch channels during a transaction showed there needs to be more emphasis on how sales are closed across all channels.

He said that retailers need to provide “new facilities and experiences” to ensure multichannel success. Park said: “You don’t buy a channel, you buy a brand. Without alignment of customer experience and operating model, brand promises fall short.”

He expected cross-channel shopping to rise in volume and importance and that mobile phones are likely to be an increasingly important part in multichannel retailing.