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Online shopping and physical shopping are becoming less mutually exclusive in the UK

By Marjorie van Elven


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Shopping online or at a brick and mortar store? For UK consumers, this is not an either-or situation, according to a survey conducted by e-commerce consultancy firm PushOn. 81 percent of the 1000 respondents believe brick and mortar stores are vital to the shopping experience, especially when purchasing fashion items, as 62 percent of them still prefer to try on clothes in-store. However, as vital as physical shopping may still be, the customer journey starts online: 70 percent of respondents carry out research online before going to a brick and mortar store to make a purchase, a habit that’s been dubbed “webrooming” by marketers and retailers. 30 percent of surveyors do the opposite, leaving physical stores empty handed only to make the purchase online later on. They are the “showroomers”.

“With shoppers preferring both methods of purchasing, retailers need to be optimising their in-store and online services to offer a truly omnichannel experience”, said Simon Warthon, business strategy director at PushOn, in the report. 82 percent of webroomers justified their shopping habits by saying they feel “more secure” when seeing exactly how a product looks like in person. This rings especially true for expensive or high-end products, as 39 percent of respondents said the maximum amount they are willing to spend online is 1000 pounds. However, 33 percent of webroomers have been faced with going to a store only to find out the product they wanted was out of stock.

Online shops have to be more visual to avoid ‘webrooming’

49 percent of respondents, regardless of whether they are showroomers or webroomers, said they would buy more “expensive” products online if webshops featured more in-depth information about products. Almost the same amount of shoppers (45 percent) have expressed a desire for technology that would allow them to visualize items more realistically, with 40 percent mentioning augmented reality as an example of tool they would like to use. 26 percent find quality photography to be “extremely important”, while 17 percent gave 3D product representation a score of 8 out of 10 for importance.

However, visuals are not the only investment online retailers should make to ensure webroomers make a purchase. Delivery costs are also an issue: while showroomers prefer buying online because they believe it’s “quicker and easier” than buying in-store, 17 percent of them find delivery charges often too expensive. 41 percent of all respondents would also like to see improved online security, so they know their money is safe, especially when making expensive purchases, while 17 percent would appreciate it if webshops featured faster checkout options, like mobile payments and one-click online shopping. Customer service should be another focus point for online retailers, considering 32 percent of UK shoppers would like to get instant answers to their questions -- preferably by a real human rather than a chatbot.

Picture: Pixabay

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