When and why shoppers prefer online

Several surveys have confirmed that Britons are the most active online shoppers in the world. 95% of the UK adult population have bought something online and 1 in 4 people make an online purchase once a week.

There no longer is a typical online shopper. Rather than targeting a specific type of person, multi-channel retailers should focus on when and why shoppers choose online and when they still prefer a store environment. Emotional Logic conducted qualitative interviews with 200 UK shoppers to reveal their motivations.

If an item was previously bought online, and especially if it is a low value item, there is a very high chance it will be purchased online again. So, once people have set the precedent, more and more items will be bought online. On the other hand, when shoppers require advice or inspiration they are more likely to choose a bricks and mortar store. Whilst online stores succeed for searching and comparing specific items, shoppers who are not sure what they want are still better off going to a store. However, if the price of the item is significantly lower online, the store visit may be for showrooming rather than to buy.

Even with same day and next day delivery, there are still many occasions when an item simply will not be delivered on time – so for those ‘I need a top for tonight’ emergencies hitting the shops is often still the best option. Trust in websites is generally increasing, with shoppers taking more risks than they did a few years ago, however if the item cannot be bought from a trustworthy site most still opt to go to a store.

What is pushing shoppers online (other than the obvious deals) is lack of easy store access. This does not only mean having a good-sized retail store nearby but also being able to get there without nightmare congestion or parking issues.

In the flowchart we have grouped webrooming (checking prices online) together with in-store purchases as around 80% of store buys are now preceded by some element of online price comparison. This could even take place in-store on a smartphone.

As offline stores are now used mainly for inspiration and advice then the number and calibre of the staff on site is becoming more and more important. Good access to the store and offering a large retail space are also significant. Last but not least there is the leisure aspect – shopping can be a day out or time spent with the family. For those occasions catering and leisure facilities at the shopping destination are increasingly valuable.

Emotional Logic conducts several studies per year investigating the future of retail. For more information please email team@emotional-logic.co.uk