The percentage of online shoppers in the US has grown rapidly over the last few years and is attracting younger consumers in particular.
A new study by Signs based on the answers of 1,000 shoppers sought to find out whether consumers prefer online or in-store shopping and provides insights into their shopping patterns.
Based on the answers of 1,000 consumers it found that 85% of them still preferred to shop for groceries and other daily essential items such as toilet paper in person. Larger items including home and garden products and pet food also tend to be bought in-store (60%).
However, books (66%) and electronic items (52%) are now being bought more often online. Due to the rise in online book consumption, digital purchases are likely to threaten brick-and-mortar booksellers.
Shoppers consider video games, gifts, books and electronics as items they are less likely to leave the house for, whilst essentials such as groceries require a trip to the store. The findings highlight that recurring items are bought in person and shoppers are now more likely to turn online for entertainment goods.
However, entertainment items were purchased fairly regularly with 71% respondents saying they had bought a book or media in the last three months.
Among the main reasons why shoppers are opting for online purchases were convenience (85%), the ability to compare prices (72%), saving time (71%), and to avoid crowds (54%). Meanwhile, in-store shopping offers the benefit of being able to touch an item (73%). 72% also prefer the ability to instantly own an item and 52% wish to avoid shipping costs.
34% of respondents said they bought items online 2-3 times a month, whilst 27% shop online 4-5 times and 8% more than 10 times per month. Millennials are more likely to shop online (5.3x average) than baby boomers (3.7x average).
Among the preferred places to shop online, 84% of respondents agree that online marketplaces such as Amazon offer great convenience. 71% also use store websites and 64% search via a search engine.
Millennials were twice as likely to shop on daily deal and social marketplace websites than baby boomers.
Amazon was the top shopping destination for all three measured age groups and accounts for almost half of all online sales in the US. Walmart ranked second in terms of popularity.
Millennials were more likely to previously having used grocery delivery services (34%) than baby boomers (22%) or Gen X (25%), but among people who had never used grocery delivery services, the majority said they were unlikely to do so now.
Amazon Prime Now was the most popular option for 62% of people who had shopped for groceries online.
Although online shopping is convenient, fraud is a common concern among shoppers. Fraud involving stolen payment information is on the rise according to experts with the median amount being stolen being $250.
The study confirms that online shopping is a part of modern life, however, it also highlights the nuanced balances of in-store versus online shopping depending on the type of item.