Corporate Eye

8 out of 10 Consumers Prefer to Research Products on the Internet

online shopping cart mobileNew research from comScore and UPS reveals that 82% of U.S. consumers prefer to research products online rather than in a brick and mortar store or catalog (18%). When they’re ready to make a purchase, 55% prefer to do so online vs. 45% who prefer to buy in brick and mortar stores or print catalogs.

These are just some of the interesting statistics from the third annual UPS Pulse of the Online Shopper Study. A total of 5,800 U.S. online shoppers were surveyed for the 2014 study.

While survey respondents were more likely to research products and buy online, they were still reluctant to do both activities using mobile devices. Respondents ranked four key reasons why they prefer to shop using their computers rather than their mobile devices:

  • Images of products on mobile devices aren’t clear enough or large enough = 43%
  • Information about products cannot be easily viewed on mobile devices = 34%
  • It is hard to compare products using mobile devices = 31%
  • There are concerns about providing credit card information using a mobile connection = 30%

These statistics show that it’s not privacy and security that is keeping many consumers from purchasing online but rather, it is a poor user experience. When asked what mobile shopping-related activities they do using their mobile devices each week, survey respondents ranked the following four activities:

  • Tracked a delivery = 28%
  • Researched products prior to visiting a store = 25%
  • Researched products and alternatives on a mobile device while at a store = 22%
  • Searched for store locations or checked store inventory = 22%

User experience is critical for retailers to motivate consumers to make purchases using their mobile devices, but it’s important to point out that the online shopping experience isn’t perfect yet either. When asked to identify the most important options retailers should provide when checking out online, survey respondents ranked free shipping far above any other option (81%). Coming in second and third were providing estimated delivery data and shipping costs early in the process for convenience (63%) and providing an estimated or guaranteed delivery date (62%).

Overall, the majority of U.S. consumers who participated in the UPS and comScore study were satisfied with the online shopping experiences offered by retailers today, but there is a lot of room for improvement. For example, the highest ranked purchase experience aspect was the ability to see the expected delivery dates of products. A total of 72% of respondents indicated that they are satisfied with this aspect of the online shopping experience offered by retailers today, but that means 28% (nearly 1 out of 3) is not satisfied. Ranked second in terms of consumer satisfaction was ease of checkout (1 or 2 clicks). A total of 68% of respondents were satisfied with the ease of checkout provided through online shopping experiences, but again, that means nearly 1 out of 3 consumers is not satisfied.

Bottom-line, the online shopping experience is far from perfect, which makes the shift to mobile shopping experiences even more challenging for retailers and consumers. Use the data provided in these types of research studies to improve the user experiences delivered by your brand, and online and mobile sales should increase.

Image: Junior Gomes

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Susan Gunelius is the author of 10 marketing, social media, branding, copywriting, and technology books, and she is President & CEO of KeySplash Creative, Inc., a marketing communications company. She also owns Women on Business, an award-wining blog for business women. She is a featured columnist for and, and her marketing-related articles have appeared on websites such as,,, and more. She has over 20 years of experience in the marketing field having spent the first decade of her career directing marketing programs for some of the largest companies in the world, including divisions of AT&T and HSBC. Today, her clients include large and small companies around the world and household brands like Citigroup, Cox Communications, Intuit, and more. Susan is frequently interviewed about marketing and branding by television, radio, print, and online media organizations, and she speaks about these topics at events around the world. You can connect with her on Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn, or Google+.