Consumers mix channels in US and UK

20 November 2012

NEW YORK: A majority of young shoppers in the US and UK have looked at products in stores before buying them online, and a quarter have compared prices in bricks and mortar outlets using a mobile phone or tablet.

Accenture Interactive, the digital arm of the global consultancy, polled 1,000 people aged 20–40 years old in each country to assess how various new media activities were impacting their habits.

Some 65% of British interviewees had seen products on the internet, gone to view them in real-world stores and then acquired them via digital channels, a total reaching 55% for the US.

Moreover, 31% of Britons and 28% of Americans used tablets or smartphones to compare prices in stores. Of this group, a 51% share in the UK and 46% in the US made final purchases on the web.

These figures hit 39% and 34% in turn for acquiring the product from another bricks and mortar location, and 20% in both markets for buying it in the original store where the mobile research was undertaken.

Over 70% of the panel participated in this activity – also known as "showrooming" – whenever they shopped, while roughly a quarter undertook such a process when choosing more valuable items.

"The showrooming trend can pose a threat to retailers, given that nearly a third of our respondents make their final online purchases with other stores," said Baiju Shah, managing director of strategy and innovation for Accenture Interactive.

"But consumers don't want to shop online exclusively, and our work with retailers shows that physical stores don't have to compete on price alone but rather focus on the whole experience."

A 52% majority of contributors thought that prices in physical outlets were generally higher than on the web, an amount standing at 59% for the UK and 46% for the US.

In all, a 64% majority of the panel said that receiving relevant offers from companies was more important than firms no longer tracking their website activity, with 36% saying the opposite.

An additional 49% would be "very receptive" to their favourite store or brand monitoring their purchases to send them useful information on social media, falling to 25% for text messages.

Furthermore, 64% of participants across the two markets proved open to receiving text messages containing offers based on what they were looking for that day, or on past acquisitions.

Data sourced from Accenture; additional content by Warc staff