When shopping for something which can be bought both online and in store, 34% of UK shoppers would prefer to buy online, with 55% opting for the high street. 

While this stat shows that offline retail still holds an important place in customers' minds, 34% is still a sizeable portion of the sample. 

These stats are taken from Econsultancy's Habits and Motivations of Consumers report, which looks at e-commerce consumer behaviour in both the UK and US. 

Factors influencing online purchases

The survey also looks at the features on websites which make it more likely that consumers will decide to shop online. 

Free shipping was the most popular motivation for 82% of UK and 80% of US consumers, and gives etailers that offer this option a clear advantage over competitors. 

Plenty of well-known retailers have caught on to the power of free shipping, with the likes of ASOS, John Lewis, Amazon all offering some degree of free shipping, and just as importantly, promoting it heavily throughout the site. 

Price guarantees were an influence for 72% of UK and 64% of US shoppers, and suggests that providing promises to match competitors' prices and even listing them on site can be a useful tactic for online retailers. 

Offering alternative payment methods makes sense for etailers, as it allows them to capture as many customers as possible, appealing to those that may be concerned about card fraud or who simply don't have a credit or debit card. 

60% of UK consumers and 48% of those from the US said that alternatives such as PayPal would make it more likely that they would shop online. 

Availability of product ratings was a factor for 59% of UK shoppers, as was the availability of user-generated or consumer product reviews (57%).

Online chat was less of an influence on purchases, with just 15% of UK and 22% of US respondents saying it would make them more likely to purchase online. 

This is not surprising, since online chat is not widely available, especially in the UK. However, if it helps 15% to 22% of consumers to complete their purchase, then it is a worthwhile tool for online retailers. 

E-commerce site issues

We also asked consumers how often they encountered various problems when attempting to make purchases online. 

The most common problems uncovered by the survey were slow-loading pages and being unable to have specific questions answered (which is where online chat can be useful). These were frequent issues for 13% of respondents, and somewhat frequent for 31%. 

Other common problems included inadequate site search functions, with 34% finding this a problem either frequently or somewhat frequently, and insufficient information (41%)

Online purchasing

Respondents were asked how much their most recent online purchase cost. Nearly half (46%) of surveyed consumers spent between £0-£100, with the largest proportions (29%) being between £25- £100.

37% of respondents spent between £100-£500 which may well account for a large amount of electrical or computer purchases.

Cost of most recent online purchase

Other highlights from the report

The continued importance of targeted and relevant email marketing came through in consumers' responses. 50% said that irrelevant information devalued emails they received. while 50% said that emails weren’t valuable because there was “no special advantage” to receiving them.

36% replied that receiving an email had prompted them to make a purchase online, whilst around a quarter (27%) reported that an email was the cause of an offline purchase.

The younger the audience, the more mistrust there is towards advertising, though the majority of consumers appreciate receiving advertising messages when it is directly beneficial to them, such as receiving a discount on a product or service (57%).

Graham Charlton

Published 21 July, 2010 by Graham Charlton

Graham Charlton is the former Editor-in-Chief at Econsultancy. Follow him on Twitter or connect via Linkedin or Google+

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Comments (7)

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Manfredi Sassoli de Bianchi

Manfredi Sassoli de Bianchi, VP Marketing at jobinasecond

"The younger the audience the more mistrust there is towards advertising"...and the more they are likely to purchase online. It seems llike social media is the best way to engage with them and as they become more affluent they will drive e-commerce growth (together with other factors).

about 8 years ago


Richard Dale

I think it depends how you define trust. From my own personal experience younger age groups (18-25) are certainly more wary of advertising where as I've found those 65yrs plus often can't distinguish between what is advertising and what is not. It does seem to me that the 'silver surfer' doesn't seem to be targeted as much through online advertising as other demographics. Is this true? Am I wrong? ....

about 8 years ago

John Courtney

John Courtney, CEO and Executive Chairman at Pay on Results SEO, Content Marketing, Social Media, Digital PR, PPC & CRO from Strategy Digital

No wonder online sales are forecasted to increase greatly, despite the possibility of a double-dip recession.  The boom times in ecommerce sales are going to continue, which is great for SEO companies like ours :)

about 8 years ago



The more people shop online the more the retailers make, and Give Back to their Shoppers. That is how we have developed our cash back program to give our registrants cash back on purchases on all their online shopping if they visit our shopping portal and click on their favorite retailers YourCashRefund.com

about 8 years ago

Sophie Smith

Sophie Smith, Digital strategist at Memorable Marketing

But is this the ceiling in terms of who is going to buy online? I'm always shocked that so many people are so resistant to buying ANYTHING online. It might be that a proportion are never going to convert: for reasons ranging from security fears to just preferring the face-to-face service and hands-on experience of a physical store buying experience. It's going to be interesting seeing companies shift to a purely online shop front, if that ever becomes a trend.

Eli, absurdly naive to assume that higher profits=more value returned to shoppers. Very much doubt this is a widespread practice.

almost 8 years ago


Tom Lambert

Online shopping is obviously the way of the future. What with internet speeds and bandwitdth becoming faster and online retailers being able to reduce prices, because of little or no overheads...I beleive the boom is about to begin.

As the CEO of 'The Shoppers List' covering the USA, Canada, Ireland and the UK, it bodes well for everyone in the online medium.

over 7 years ago


Mirta - how to make Angel Cake

Very interesting data. I sell Amazon products in a recipes website. In my experience only the 13% of the clients who get to the "pay" button actually press it. I live in USA, Fl.

Shopping online may be the future, but many years will pass for people to get confident paying for something they are not actually seeing.

almost 6 years ago

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