Is The Prime Reason Customers Shop Online Price Or Convenience? Which One? Are You Sure?

Do you think the most important reason customers prefer to shop online is because of price -- or is it convenience? Or maybe some other reason, such as more variety, easy comparisons, no crowd, or spend less on gas or parking?  I wrote about this in 8 Reasons Consumers Like To Shop Online some time ago, simply using comments shoppers made, as opposed to an official survey. Note the similarities.  So what you do you think? Is it convenience or price? The answer may surprise you...

According to the results of a 2012 survey of 1000 consumers by global design and innovation consultancy, Continuum, the number one reason people choose to shop either in a store OR online is convenience. As a matter of fact, price wasn't the second choice either!

First, customers said they prefer to shop IN STORES for the following reasons:

1. Convenience (40 percent)

2. Don't trust the quality online (22 percent)

3. Don't want to pay for shipping/returns (17 percent)

4. Better prices (17 percent)

5. For personal interaction (4 percent)

Second, customers said they prefer to shop ONLINE for the following reasons:

1. Convenience (43 percent)

2. Easier to find what they are looking for (29 percent)

3. Better prices (25 percent)

4. To avoid interaction with employees (3 percent)

The fact that convenience seemed to matter more for shoppers than price in both instances was a surprise.

Other interesting preferences revealed by the survey (with some distinctions based on gender, age, lifestyle, etc.):

When it came to "complaints": 85 percent of respondents felt satisfied complaining in person (in a store) compared to 64 percent who were satisfied complaining online. However, 91 percent of people over 50 were more likely to complain to store managers face-to-face, compared with 78 percent of those younger than 30 being satisfied with the face-to-face interaction.

When it came to product returns: 73 percent of respondents felt satisfied returning items in person compared to 13 percent who were satisfied returning an online purchase. The study did find that the gender of the shopper impacted the level of satisfaction with making returns in-store. For example, 77 percent of female shoppers were satisfied doing returns in person compared to 69 percent of males.

As for personal treatment, the study found that 61 percent of women were satisfied when greeted at the door of a store, compared to 54 percent of men.

Here's a summary of the Continuum study, followed by Continuum's Infographic:

  • Convenience trumps price in stores and online.
  • For in-store purchases, 40% cite convenience; only 22% say they do it for better prices.
  • For online purchases, 43% cite convenience; only 25% say they shop online for better prices.
  • When it came to complaints, 85% felt satisfied in complaining in person (i.e. in a store) while 64% felt satisfied in complaining online.
  • Making returns was an issue that 73% preferred doing in person, while only 13% of respondents felt satisfied returning items online.
  • Do customers like having help? Apparently, the busier you are the more you appreciate help, i.e. 85% of moms with kids appreciated help when they went to a store while just 54% of the men want to be greeted at the door.

Bottom Line For Your Bottom Line:

The key for retailers is being responsive to the consumer. I just wrote about the comScore/UPS Pulse Of The Online Shopper study, 6 Little Secrets About Online Shopping where customers said most important to them re online shopping is: To know when their package would be delivered, to know shipping costs early in their search, providing free shipping, improved returns, seamless multichannel experiences, and retailers to use mobile and social media effectively. If online retailers are listening and can provide what makes the customer happy, they will pave the way to maximize sales and profit.

Here's the Continuum Infographic: Anatomy Of Consumer Convenience:


Anatomy of Consumer Convenience
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Gilon Miller, CMO

About Author

Gilon is a seasoned marketing, sales and business development executive with over 15 years of experience in the software and Internet business. He is the Founder and CEO of GuruShots. Previously, Gilon was the CMO of Upstream Commerce, VP of Marketing at iMDsoft and Director of Global Marketing at SAP. He earned an MBA at the MIT Sloan School of Management and a BS in Electrical Engineering from Tufts University.
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