Online shopping is growing around the world, but is this affecting how people are shopping in physical stores? The truth is, online shopping is a two-way street. Consumers aren’t simply “showrooming”—browsing in store and then going online in search of the lowest-cost option. They’re also “webrooming”—researching online and buying in stores.
Online research is particularly popular for durable and higher-priced categories, such as consumer electronics and travel products/services, as the majority of consumers in the Nielsen Global Connected Commerce survey say they conducted research online prior to buying—regardless of whether the purchase was in-store or online. Respondents are also doing research on the Internet for consumable categories, like fresh groceries and beauty/personal care products before purchase, but the percentages are notably lower than for durable products.
While online research is a common practice across the globe, respondents in some countries have embraced the omni-channel experience more than others. Respondents in Asian countries such as Thailand, the Philippines, India and China frequently research products online before buying in stores or use online reviews to help make purchasing decisions for grocery. Online research and reviews are also used frequently in Spain and Nigeria. The importance of online research in all of these markets is likely driven by wide variation in product quality, the prevalence of social networks and the importance of keeping up with the latest trends.
Conducting online research is not the only activity that is complementing the shopping experience. Three online activities score consistently high, regardless of the product category being considered. They are what you likely expect: Looking up product information, checking/comparing prices and searching for deals/promotions/coupons. In the travel products or services category, for example, 63% of respondents who shopped or purchased the category in the past six months say they looked up product information, 52% checked or compared prices and 46% searched for deals or coupons. For consumable—particularly edible—products, percentages are notably lower than for durable goods, but the same online activities remain top strategies. For fresh groceries, 38% say they looked up information, 39% checked/compared prices and 30% searched for deals.
Perhaps more telling is what consumers are not doing online. Across all categories reviewed, the online shopping activities with the lowest mentions include those that marketers often rely upon heavily to reach consumers—usage of online ads, store emails and social media. Only about one-10th of respondents say they’ve clicked an online ad or email ad to find out more in the last six months. Even fewer say they have subscribed to product or store emails or liked/tweeted/commented about a product or store on social media.
“In an increasingly complex retail environment, engagement is the emerging skill to master,” said Patrick Dodd, president, Nielsen global retailer vertical. “Retailers must move from a linear marketing approach to a value exchange model in which customers receive a tangible, personally relevant benefit for their time and attention. This becomes even more critical as location-based services become more prevalent. Consumers will be quick to distinguish marketing messages that are simply trying to sell from tools that actually help their shopping efforts, such as advanced order placement or mobile price-matching features. Consequently, having the right assets and insights is necessary to fuel context-aware engagement.”
Other findings include:
Fifty-seven percent of online respondents in the survey say they purchased from an e-tailer outside their country’s border in the past six months.
The most commonly used payment methods among countries in the survey were credit card (53%) and digital payment systems (43%), but cash on delivery is common in developing markets.
Nearly half of online respondents in the study (49%) say they shop online to get grocery products they can’t find in physical stores.
More than half (57%) of online respondents say they have doubts that e-commerce sites will keep their personal information secure and confidential.
Six-in-10 online respondents say they’ll only shop online for electronics (62%) and mobile products (61%) if it saves them money.
For more detail and insight, download Nielsen’s Global Connected Commerce Report.