NEW YORK: A new survey shows there is a wide gap between the number of consumers who claim to enjoy online shopping and the proportion whose last purchase was actually made via this channel.

The IBM Institute for Business Value analysed four years of survey data from over 110,000 consumers in 19 countries, and concluded there were clear opportunities for retailers to close the gap and create deeper loyalty.

Overall, the study found that 43% of consumers said they prefer to shop online, but just 29% had actually made their last purchase in this way.

In some product categories – like youth apparel and home décor – this gap was even wider, at almost 20 points.

Similar discrepancies emerged in relation to sharing information. Some 42% of consumers saw the potential benefit of disclosing their location to retailers via GPS technology, but only 28% were willing to do so.

A further 54% appreciated that giving access to their mobile number could bring some benefits from retailers texting them, but, once again, rather fewer (42%) would be ready to share this information.

"Retailers may not be doing enough to meet consumer expectations shaped by digital experiences outside of retail – from location-based services to preference-based apps," said Sarah Diamond, General Manager, IBM Global Business Services.

"The good news is that this gap also indicates the potential of growth for retailers who can meet those consumer expectations."

High on the list of consumer requirements is inventory visibility: as expectations for product fulfillment are shaped by online shopping experiences, out-of-stock situations are becoming less acceptable.

Indeed, fully 60% of surveyed consumers said it is important for them to be able to find out if an item is in stock before going to a store.

Personalised promotions are another requirement: 48% of shoppers valued initiating a personalised communication with a retailer when online, while 44% wanted on-demand communication while in a store.

Data sourced from PR Newswire; additional content by Warc staff