Touch, try and buy; retailers must create an omnichannel shopping experience to survive, BigCommerce study reveals

New research by BigCommerce, the ecommerce platform for fast-growing and established brands, reveals that convenience, price and speed of delivery are front of mind for UK shoppers whilst further illustrating the global impact of Amazon’s marketplace.


The research is part of BigCommerce’s wider 2018 Omnichannel Buying Report, which surveyed 3,000 respondents from the U.S., Australia and the UK to understand the role that online and offline channels play in customers’ purchase decisions.

Brits still in favour of ‘touch, try, buy’

Despite the continued growth of ecommerce, more consumers (63%) have shopped in a physical store in the last six months than online (48%). Almost three out of 10 (28%) Brits said the ability to touch and try on an item is the primary reason to shop in-store rather than online, followed by convenience (19%) and speed (10%). Sixteen percent of Brits indicated that not being able to touch or wear a product in advance was one of their least favourite things about online shopping.

Purchase decisions still heavily influenced by customer reviews

The availability of customer reviews have become an expected and influential part of the purchase journey. BigCommerce research reveals that Brits are still influenced by product reviews, with one-third (33%) noting they read customer reviews about a brand or product ahead of a purchase decision. A further 22% said a product recommendation from a friend or family member influenced their decision to buy.

It’s more than just price

Eighty-six per cent of respondents in the study shopped on Amazon within the last six months, followed by eBay (57%), Facebook (14%) and Instagram (10%). A third (33%) of respondents said price was the main factor for shopping on Amazon. This was followed by convenience (26%) and ease of shipping (16%).

In fact, the primary reason Brits shop on a brand’s website is convenience (26%), followed by price (24%) and free shipping (15%). Even more telling of Amazon’s impact in the retail ecosystem is the influence that Amazon Prime’s fast and free shipping promise has had on ecommerce behaviour. Interestingly, almost a quarter (24%) of Brits cited shipping costs as their least favourite aspect of online shopping, with another 16% annoyed by waiting for the item to arrive.

Returns help bridge the gap between online and in-store

Brits expect to return up to a quarter of items they’ve bought online, with clothing being the biggest category (43%). Returns may help bridge the gap between online and in-store. Businesses that have a physical store as well as an online one should look to product returns as a sales opportunity, as more than half of shoppers expect to return one of every four purchases they make online.

While 44% of those returns are simply mailed back to the brand, almost a quarter of Brits (24%) choose to return in-store. Furthermore, two-thirds (66%) of those who choose to return an item in-store also browse or shop in the store afterwards, giving retailers an opportunity to save or potentially grow the sale.

Single-channel experience is a thing of the past

The results of this study emphasise that retailers and brands can no longer afford a single-channel retail experience. Products must be available across multiple digital and offline channels in order to capture the attention of consumers, no matter where they choose to shop. Convenience is a top priority for consumers when shopping, thus free shipping and easy returns will encourage repeat purchases.

“The term ‘omnichannel’ has been cropping up in the retail industry for years. Customers increasingly behave in an omnichannel fashion by switching between channels during the purchase journey – checking prices via mobile while standing in store, for instance – but, as a whole, merchants are still trying to figure out the best way to enable retail experiences that create an ongoing connection with customers regardless of channel,” said Mark Adams, vice president and general manager of Europe at BigCommerce.

Mark continued, “Retailers need to reflect and support this behaviour, ensuring customers get a great retail experience every time. Our research provides retailers a deeper context of how consumers are actually shopping today in order to give them the tools and the knowledge to create omnichannel experiences that drive conversion, encourage growth and assist in continued brand loyalty.”

About the survey

BigCommerce conducted this survey between August 2 – August 5, 2018. All consumers were 18 years of age or above. Survey responses were collected from approximately 3,000 individuals living in Australia, the United Kingdom and the United States.

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