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Apr 29, 2021
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More shoppers enjoy online browsing than in-store shopping - report

Published
Apr 29, 2021

Consumers may be returning to stores in large numbers, but new research suggests that they're still addicted to the online experience, which they find both easier and more enjoyable.


Photo: Pexels/Public domain



New global research from Bazaarvoice (the provider of product reviews and UGC solutions) finds that not only are 61% of consumers globally more likely to browse for new products online compared to in-store, but 64% find it easier and 54% more enjoyable.

That said, the researchers, who spoke to 9,000+ consumers, didn’t say the store was completely irrelevant. In fact, if consumers are going to make spontaneous spur-of-the-moment purchases, they’re more likely to do so in a physical location than online (64% vs 51%).

Looking at the UK specifically, it seems the “allure of convenience (60%), ease (48%), and greater product choice (46%) makes online an appealing destination to browse for products”.

But many shoppers still want to touch and feel what they’re going to buy before committing to purchase. This physical experience is the most popular reason shoppers choose to browse in-store compared to online.

As for the devices consumers are using for browsing in Britain, smartphones are the top choice for 52% of consumers, followed by laptops (23%), and desktop (11%) computers. And it’s interesting that “with immediate access at the fingertips of UK consumers, they spend more time browsing for products online compared to in-store”. The majority of those shopping online (53%) spend more than 15 minutes browsing in a single session. This compares to just over a third (38%) spending the same amount of time browsing in shops.

But as many as 71% of consumers buy in-store at least once a week, compared to 46% making weekly online purchases. 

Despite this, there’s still a huge challenge ahead for physical retailers. Many consumers may have rushed back to shops because they've been denied the chance to browse in them for the last few months. But those consumers have also become used to the online experience over the past year.

Yet online retailers also have challenges in terms of matching the physical experience of being in a shop.

Ed Hill, SVP EMEA at Bazaarvoice, said: “The last year has been transformational for retail, and has pushed a lot of consumers into new territory. Brands and retailers have upped their online experiences to make the process of shopping online not only easy and convenient, but also enjoyable. However, at the point of discovery, online shoppers stumbling upon a great product are more likely to simply research the item, rather than purchase it spontaneously. Collecting user-generated content (UGC), like text based ratings and reviews, and visual UGC helps brands build trust with consumers so shoppers can be confident in their purchase and are more likely to convert.”

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