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:
For more detail and insight, download Nielsen’s Global Connected Commerce Report.
The Nielsen Global Connected Commerce Survey was conducted between August and October 2015 and polled more than 13,000 consumers in 26 countries throughout Asia-Pacific, Europe, Latin America, the Middle East, Africa and North America. The sample for all countries except Saudi Arabia and United Arab Emirates includes Internet users who agreed to participate in this survey and has quotas based on age and sex for each country. It is weighted to be representative of Internet consumers by country. Because the sample is based on those who agreed to participate, no estimates of theoretical sampling error can be calculated. However, a probability sample of equivalent size would have a margin of error of ±0.9% at the global level. This Nielsen survey is based only on the behavior of respondents with online access. Global and regional averages used in this report are based on weighted country data. Internet penetration rates vary by country. Nielsen uses a minimum reporting standard of 60% Internet penetration or an online population of 10 million for survey inclusion. In Saudi Arabia and United Arab Emirates, a face-to-face methodology was used for nearly 1,000 respondents. Given the differences in methodologies used, results from the Middle East are not included in the global average.