More consumers are now purchasing products online rather than in store, according to new research from Deloitte, the business advisory firm. The findings come from a survey of 2,000 UK consumers, published in the latest Deloitte Consumer Review: CX marks the spot: Rethinking the customer experience to win.
According to the research, online purchasing has overtaken in-store purchasing for the first time. Almost half (48%) of UK consumers have purchased a product online within the last three months, compared to 45% purchasing it in store. Online purchases made up the majority of purchases in categories including electrical equipment (59%), household appliances (59%) and music and media (58%). By contrast, in-store purchasing is preferred by two-thirds of those buying clothing and 56% for furniture.
In the service sector, even more people are likely to complete their purchase online (58%). In this category, eating out (90%) and train tickets (62%) were the only service categories to be mainly purchased in a physical location. By contrast, online purchasing was strongly in favour for service categories including flights (96%), care hire (79%) and hotel accommodation (80%).
The research also revealed that, for consumers, ‘the experience’ itself was significant in the decision making process. When asked what was important in their decision to buy a product or service, more than half (56%) said that the overall enjoyment of the shopping experience was important.
Richard Small, customer services partner at Deloitte, commented: “The proliferation of choice, channels and influences means that consumer expectations are changing faster than businesses can respond to.
“In recent years, consumers have become increasingly comfortable interacting with brands seamlessly, switching between different channels effortlessly. This makes it difficult for businesses to predict what consumers want from their purchasing experience. At the same time, consumers have become less tolerant of vendors that do not offer easy-to-use services, whether in store or online. With every new business model offering a better experience, consumers’ expectations grow, as does the pressure to adapt and revamp traditional models.
“Consumer businesses should rethink their approach to customer experience and redesign it from the outside-in. While many pay lip service to customer centricity, few are taking the steps necessary to ensure that the customer is truly at the heart of their business. Those that focus their attention on delivering a positive customer experience will ultimately win out through having a competitive advantage in the market and securing future growth.”