As E-Commerce Grows, Shoppers Gain More Comfort Buying Big-Ticket Items Online

August 5, 2019

With 6 in 10 US consumers (61%) saying they have purchased a product online, it’s clear that consumers are becoming increasingly comfortable with e-commerce. As this comfort level increases, so does the dollar value of the items they are willing to purchase online, with a new report [download page] from Walker Sands revealing that almost half (46%) of the 1,600 consumers surveyed are more open to purchasing big-ticket items online than they were just a year ago.

While a considerable portion of consumers in all age groups are more open to buying products like furniture and cars online than previously, it’s interesting to see that it’s the oldest bracket that has showed the most willingness to adapt (perhaps as they were the least ready to splurge online to begin with). Three-fifths (61%) of respondents 61 years old and older say they are more likely to do buy big-ticket items online than they were last year.

This is good news for e-commerce brands, as prior research has shown that older consumers account for more than half (54%) of the wealth in the US. Older consumers’ relatively high disposable income also pairs with research from Epsilon showing that older shoppers tend to spend more per transaction (on and offline) than younger generations to present an opportunity for brands to target older adults.

So, what big-ticket items are online shoppers browsing for and purchasing? The survey shows that a sizable chunk of consumers are happy to browse online for bigger ticket items such as cars (34%), furniture (33%) and homes (27%), perhaps to circumvent the high-pressure sales atmosphere associated with browsing these items off-line.

However, while some consumers have purchased big-ticket items such as furniture (20%) and home appliances (17%) online, fewer are yet to purchase more expensive items like cars (13%) and a house (7%) over the internet – as might be expected.

Free Shipping Remains the Main Driver for Online Purchases

No matter if it’s large or small items, the main driver for purchasing online for more than three-quarters (77%) of consumers is free shipping. Fast shipping is also a factor, with respondents looking for options such as same-day shipping (39%), next-day shipping (35%) and even two-hour (or less) shipping (20%) when making a decision to purchase online.

This finding is backed up by past research. In a study by Yes Marketing, the single most influential factor for online purchasing for survey respondents was free or expedited shipping.

Another element that plays into shoppers’ decision-making is the ability to return items free of charge. Past research has found that half of the North American consumers surveyed said they would not purchase an item online if they were not given the option for free returns. Walker Sands’ study reflects this finding as well, with 48% of respondents saying they look for free returns or exchanges online. Additionally, they look for easier returns online (39%) and offline (26%).

A slight majority of consumers say that longer checkout lines are a pain point when shopping in-store, which could be why one-fifth (21%) of respondents to this new survey also say another driving factor for purchasing online is faster checkout.

For more stats, download the full report here.

About the Data: The study surveyed 1,600 consumers across the US on their shopping habits, preferences and views on emerging technology. The survey was conducted online in March 2019 and has a 2% margin of error at a 95% confidence level.


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