The UK's shoppers are adopting mobile and tablets, yet the high street remains central to the research and purchase process.

87% of survey respondents using a store as part of the purchase journey in the past month, though high prices, crowds, and the time taken are seen as drawbacks. 

The stats come from Shoppercentric's 'Shopping in a Multichannel World' survey, and the results show that customers are using a wide variety of channels. 

Mary Portas may have managed to produce a retail review containing just three references to digital, but online and mobile is vital for the future of the high street. 

Channels used by customers during the purchase process

As the stats show, shops feature strongly in the channels used by survey respondents, followed by laptop and PC: 

The high street store still remains the most used channel, though for younger age groups, laptops and netbooks come pretty close. 

In general, younger shoppers are more likely to use smartphones (and, to a lesser extent, tablets) as part of the purchase process. 

Penetration of new technologies

Smartphones have now reached 45% penetration, but for the under 34 age groups, this rises to 62%. 

Use of tablets and smartphones

As we've covered before, iPads can deliver impressive conversion rates and average order values (AOVs) but they are used by just 7% of shoppers. 

At the moment, since the relatively expensive iPad is the dominant tablet, it may be that the wealth of the average owner means higher spend. However, tablet use is set to grow, so retailers should look at adapting their websites and marketing for this device. 

The importance of the high street

The high street will always have a place. In fact, 45% of shoppers said they will ‘always love going to the shops, no matter what new technologies are available’.

These, and other multichannel retail stats, show that customers are rapidly adopting new channels such as mobile, and also that they will choose the one that suits their needs most at the time. 

Offline retailers that are able to adapt to customers' use of multiple channels will be best placed to prosper. This means things like launching mobile optimised sites, putting wi-fi in stores (to allow customers to view reviews, compare prices etc), having easy reserve and collect services, and in-store kiosks. 

According to Danielle Pinnington, Managing Director at Shoppercentric:

Marketers should be excited about the prospect of being able to make an impact on the purchasing journey in many more ways than before. The opportunity to change shopper behaviour is better than it has ever been. The retailer or brand that is able to use all the channels at its disposal to meet shoppers’ needs is the business that will reap the rewards.

Retailers shouldn't necessarily assign fixed roles for channels. Customers may well research online before heading to a store to make a purchase, but the reverse is equally likely.

The trick is to understand that customers will use channels for a variety of purposes, and to deliver a smooth and seamless experience whichever one the customer chooses. 

Graham Charlton

Published 28 February, 2012 by Graham Charlton

Graham Charlton is editor in chief at SaleCycle, and former editor at Econsultancy. Follow him on Twitter or connect via Linkedin.

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Comments (5)


Tim Leighton-Boyce, Analyst at CxFocus

The most interesting aspect of this for me is the variation across the different age groups.

Kevin Hillstrom's posted a series of very relevant articles about the behaviour of different demographic groups, starting here:

You can see what he's talking about in this survey data.

It would also be interesting to see data on the overlap between the different devices for each group.

over 6 years ago

Graham Charlton

Graham Charlton, Editor in Chief at SaleCycle

Hi Tim,

I have more data from the survey I can send you.

over 6 years ago

David Sealey

David Sealey, Head of Digital Consulting at CACI

Do you have a link to download the report?

over 6 years ago

Graham Charlton

Graham Charlton, Editor in Chief at SaleCycle

Hi David - there's a bit more in the press release here:

I have some other data from the survey - email me and I'll get it over to you.

over 6 years ago


Eptica Blog

What this research shows is that multi-channel is a lot more complex than many retailers believe. The customer journey crosses – and re-crosses – different channels and consumers expect a consistent experience across all of them, rather than being corralled into operating by a single channel. There are some further thoughts on how retailers in particular can meet the cross-channel challenge in this blog post

over 6 years ago

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