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The Latest Threat to Retailers’ Online Sales is the Brands Themselves

As the tide toward e-commerce shopping continues to rise, brands have a big opportunity to claim market share from their multi-brand retail counterparts online.

According to Astound Commerce’s “2017 Global Brand Shopper Survey,” while consumers prefer multi-brand retail experiences, websites operated by individual brands are gaining in importance, especially after goods are purchased.

Consumers, particularly millennials, are shopping directly with brand sites because they think they offer a more elevated merchandising and shopping experience. Compared to the retailers who sell their products, these brand sites enable consumers to discover thousands of curated products without a complicated search or checkout process. Thirty-one percent of millennials said they use a brand manufacturer’s website for research, which often result in a purchase, compared to the 19 percent from other demographics who share the same habits. Similarly, 39 percent of millennials prefer to shop directly on the brand’s site rather than on a retailer’s, while only 18 percent of respondents from other demographics feel the same way.

[Read more on evolving shopper habits: Retail Store Traffic May be Starting to Pick Up]

More than half (58 percent) of online shoppers have visited five or more brand manufacturer websites in the past six months. What’s more, for millennials that number is 67 percent. And these site visits set the stage for shopping.

Two-thirds of consumers said they purchased at least three products from brand sites in the past six months, with males (71 percent) and millennials (80 percent) leading this action. Consumers are also snapping up apparel the most—61 percent of items purchased directly from brands online are clothes.

Company-owned stores also play an important part in the purchasing journey. Seventy-percent of consumers go to a brand’s store to touch and feel the products, while 59 percent visit to get a better sense of the brand experience—which they claim can’t be fully accomplished online only. “There is also something incredibly powerful about visiting a store that shows well in terms of elevating your perception of that brand,” according to the report.

In fact, elevated experiences is what drives consumers to brands. They expect to find better depth of product knowledge, service and assortment there than on multi-brand retailers’s sites. In addition to these factors, shoppers look to brands to offer better prices as well.