LONDON: Consumers in the UK are utilising an increasingly diverse range of channels on the path to purchase, but ascribe very different qualities to bricks and mortar stores and digital media.

Shoppercentric, the specialist research firm, polled a representative sample of 1,001 people online, and found 87% of respondents typically visited physical stores during the "purchase journey".

Catalogues posted 23% on this metric, ahead of the 13% recorded by smartphones, as well as bettering the 7% yielded by tablets and the 2% generated by web-connected television sets.

Looking at mobile more specifically, 5% of contributors have scanned QR codes during the path to purchase, while 9% had turned to the apps provided by retailers and 5% had deployed brand apps.

Despite the considerable buzz regarding social media, only 7% of the panel had leveraged sites like Facebook and Twitter for the same purpose.

The most popular feature of smartphones among users was that they can be used on the move, on 74%. A further 64% liked the "anytime, anywhere" access they allowed, and 61% were equally positive about store location tools.

When discussing tablets, 58% of owners stated these devices made it easy to view information, and 55% pointed to their strengths for browsing, letting them conveniently research products.

For both of these gadgets, the primary issues for consumers were not being able to physically experience products, the "absence of a human face" and worries linked to security.

Bricks and mortar stores are the most trusted channel when it comes to gaining expert advice, receiving 68%, beating brand websites on 52%.

When it came to securing reliable information, online comparison platforms scored 40%, the highest total, followed by the 39% registered by official brand sites. Social media delivered just 17% here.

By contrast, social media were perceived as the best source for exclusive updates and deals for new products, logging 50%.

"In this world of 24/7 shopping it's very easy for retailers to focus on business needs and get caught up in the excitement of implementing the latest technologies," Danielle Pinnington, Shoppercentric's managing director, said.

"Modern shoppers expect all retail channels to flow smoothly from one to the other, but they also increasingly expect an individualised shopping experience, perfect for them. No small order."

Data sourced from Shoppercentric; additional content by Warc staff