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Whether online or in-stores, consumers typically are searching for specific items rather than just browsing, finds the NRF in a newly-released survey results. However, there do seem to be some differences by channel.

For example, when shopping in-store, respondents reported being much more likely to be seeking to buy a certain item (73%) than to just be browsing (27%). When shopping online, though, there was a closer split between searching for an item (54%) and browsing (46%).

The preference for item search suggests that marketers should invest in site search capabilities. In fact, research has found online shoppers saying that search is the most important factor in great user experience. A prior survey had indicated that almost three-quarters of US shoppers would be likely to leave a retail site that doesn’t provide good search results.

Meanwhile, although shoppers are typically searching for specific items as opposed to just browsing, that doesn’t mean that their loyalty isn’t up for grabs. In an analysis released last year, McKinsey found that few purchases are loyalty-driven, and the myriad new ways for consumers to judge brands and comparison shop doesn’t seem poised to change that. In fact, of 30 categories studied, purchases were mostly the result of shopping around as opposed to brand loyalty in all but three.

Other Survey Highlights:

In other findings from NRF’s survey:

  • The majority (68%) of consumers shopping online expect free shipping, even on purchases of less than $50;
  • Almost half (47%) of online shoppers claim to back out of a purchase if shipping isn’t free (unexpected shipping costs have been found to be the leading reason for abandoning a cart);
  • Most (58%) shoppers say that being able to find what they want quickly and easily is their top factor in deciding where to shop;
  • Other elements factoring into the decision of where to shop include the quality of customer service (44%), speed and simplicity of checkout (42%) and the ability to try out products (20%);
  • About 6 in 10 shoppers are interested in special events held by retailers to draw customers into stores or onto websites; and
  • Millennials (44%) and in particular Millennial men (60%) are the most likely to be “very interested” in such special events.

About the Data: The results are based on NRF’s Consumer View, a quarterly survey that was conducted among 3,172 US consumers (18+) in Q4 2017.

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