UPS and comScore have released their 3rd annual “Pulse of the Online Shopper Study,” based on a survey of 5,800 online shoppers in the US who make at least 2 online purchases in a typical 3-month period. The results suggest that despite the growth of mobile commerce (23% year-over-year in 2013, per comScore), only 1 in 10 respondents prefer to purchase products on mobile devices. In fact, respondents were as likely to say they prefer to make a purchase from a multichannel retailer through a catalog (by calling or ordering through the mail) as they were to say they’d prefer to buy online via smartphone (4% each).A plurality 44% said they’d prefer to purchase online via a desktop or laptop computer. The most common reasons given for shopping on a computer rather than a mobile device were that respondents can’t get a clear or large enough image of the product on mobile devices and that product information cannot be easily viewed.
Mobile devices have (unsurprisingly) a bigger influence in the research process, with 1 in 5 respondents preferring to conduct their research on a tablet (11%) or smartphone (10%).
The biggest difference between research and buying preferences is seen for physical stores, though. While just 13% of respondents prefer to research products in-store, 41% prefer to make their purchases in-store.
Indeed, the study finds that online shoppers search online and buy in-store 13% of the time, as opposed to searching in-store and buying online (showrooming), which occurs an estimated 7% of the time.
Among those who researched in-store but decided to buy online, the top reasons given were:
- Not ready to purchase the day they visited the store (64%);
- Wanting to do additional research before purchasing (62%);
- Not wanting to carry the item home (61%); and
- Buying a gift and wanting to ship it online (60%).
Meanwhile, as the previous annual studies have found, free shipping plays a significant role in online purchase decisions. About 8 in 10 respondents this year said that free shipping options are an important option when checking out online, and 93% said they had taken an action in order to qualify for free shipping. The most common of those was adding more items to a cart to qualify for free shipping (58%) and choosing the slowest transit time on a retailer’s site because it’s free (50%). In fact, a majority 57% of respondents said they would wait an additional 3 days for free shipping.