LONDON: An increasing number of consumers in the UK are regularly buying products online, and often view the service they receive as being superior to that available on the high-street.

Likemind, the communications agency, partnered with Vision Critical, the research firm, to survey 2,000 shoppers in the country in order to gain an insight in to their current attitudes and activities.

Overall, 88% of respondents were found to have bought goods using the internet in 2009, compared with 96% who had made purchases in stores in the same period.

More specifically, 48% of participants argued that the level of customer service was better on the web than in bricks-and-mortar outlets.

This opinion reached a peak among members of the panel over the age of 55 years old, who are often perceived as being the slowest cohort to adopt new digital behaviours.

Elsewhere, contributors also displayed converging preferences with regard to their online and offline experiences, according to the Likemind/Vision Critical study.

As such, whichever channel they were using, the ability to locate information and products easily, and the quality and speed of service, were the key metrics used to evaluate the performance of retailers.

Two-thirds of those polled reported that receiving disappointing service had led them to change their mind about buying something, while a similar number said the same when the service had been too slow.

"An increasing number of people from every demographic are choosing online ahead of face-to-face brand experiences," Nick Jefferson, the chief executive of Likemind, said.

He also argued that it was essential for e-commerce services to ensure that their sites were truly customer-centric if they were to generate loyalty in a crowded market.

"This really puts the pressure on companies to work hard to understand their website user needs and learn from analytics how visitors are behaving on their site," said Jefferson.

Data sourced from Brand Republic; additional content by Warc staff