Online Shopping and Purchasing Preferences

Online Shopping and Purchasing Preferences

Pew Research Center studied the reasons behind why and when Americans choose to shop online vs. in physical stores. Studies conducted by the Center indicated price to be the most important factor in determining whether people chose to shop online or in physical stores. Separately, buying an item for the first time increased the likelihood that a person purchased the item in person rather than online.

Key findings

"When the Center first asked about online shopping in a survey conducted in June 2000, just 22% of Americans indicated that they had ever made a purchase online. But in the intervening years that figure has increased nearly fourfold: Today, 79% of Americans say they make purchases online."

"But even as many online shoppers express preferences for physical stores in the abstract, their ultimate decision of where to buy something often comes down to price. When asked a second question about their relative preferences for online and in-person shopping that incorporates pricing, fully 65% of online shoppers indicate that if they needed to make a purchase they would probably compare the price they could get online with the price they could get from physical stores and choose whichever one offered them the best deal."

"Regardless of their demographic characteristics, when buying something for the first time most Americans assign greater importance to being able to look at or try the product in person than they do to being able to buy online without making a trip to the store. However, frequent online shoppers are one of the few groups who place more importance on being able to buy online. Nearly three-quarters (72%) of weekly online shoppers say that being able to buy online without having to make a trip to the store is important to them when buying something for the first time (20% say it is extremely important). Meanwhile, a slightly smaller share (66%) says it is important to be able to try something out in person (with 15% saying this is extremely important)."

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