Study: Most shoppers use Internet to purchase and research

New York -- A study released Monday by Cisco revealed that, as retailers reinvent their in-store shopping experience in the face of the continued rise of e-commerce, digital content from the Internet has emerged as the most powerful influence in buying decisions for the majority of shoppers in all channels.

The third annual Cisco Internet Business Solutions Group study of consumers, entitled “Catch and Keep Digital Shoppers,” found that online ratings and reviews were the most influential source for making purchasing decisions, and that shoppers increasingly want access to digital content in stores through a variety of devices.

The study found a majority of shoppers, categorized as “Digital Mass Market,” have advanced beyond the capabilities of many retailers. These shoppers expect stores to operate with the same information, transparency and speed as their favorite website, and two-thirds are interested in personalized shopping experiences when visiting a store. Shoppers overwhelmingly prefer in-store self-service access to digital content (85%), with one in three using mobile searches to guide their purchasing decisions – up 20% from last year.

The Cisco study surveyed 5,000 shoppers across five countries: the United States, United Kingdom, Brazil, Mexico and China. Key results of the U.S. portion of the survey include:

  • 78% of all shoppers use the Internet to research and purchase products and services;
  • 71% of shoppers want to access digital content in the store;
  • Shoppers have equal preference to obtaining such content through retailer touch screens or via personal devices.
  • Digital shoppers are more demanding than ever, with 60% now expecting more value in their shopping experience. Of these shoppers, 53% expect greater price visibility, 37% want easier ways to find products, and 39% desire faster/easier way to purchase products. Of all the information sources that influence today’s buying decisions, online ratings and reviews on retailer websites are cited as most influential in purchase decisions by 52% of respondents, followed by advice from friends and family (49%);
  • In the last two years, expert online reviews by consumer groups, expert buyers and bloggers increased 13% in purchase influence to 42%;
  • Shoppers prefer online ratings and reviews by a 4:1 margin over advice from store employees;
  • 65% of shoppers research online and purchase in store – up from 57% last year.
  • The “show-rooming” shopping journey that begins with in-store research and ends with 
online purchasing was pursued by 40% of respondents – roughly the same as last year.
  • Cross-channel shopping journeys involving mobile devices rose on average by 20% 
from last year; mobile search to in-store or online purchase is now actively used by 29% and 33% of shoppers, respectively.
  • 85% of shoppers want self-service access to digital content. Only 4% of shoppers want to rely on help from store employees all the time.
  • While two-thirds of shoppers are interested in personalized shopping experiences, they do expect opt-in/opt-out control, and they prefer retailers to use transactional types of data.

Cisco also tested consumer interest in several key digital service concepts. Use of personal mobile shopping, an interactive room design experience, a touch-screen device to help select products, and automated pick-up for online orders all ranked high among shoppers – with roughly 50% of respondents stating they were interested in these types of services.

"It’s now very clear: consumers prefer to shop through bits and bytes, with the majority of shopping behaviors and expectations shaped by online sources. To shift shoppers into buyers, retailers need to merge online and physical services to meet the demands of today’s digital shoppers," said Dick Cantwell, VP and global lead, Retail, Cisco Internet Business Solutions Group.