Is online shopping better than in-store deals?

It is easier to shop and compare prices online than it is to compare prices of different physical stores. There are a lot of coupons available online to help save money on orders or even get free shipping. But does online shopping really save the shopper more money?

The UPS Pulse of the Online Shopper™ report evaluates consumer shopping habits from pre-purchase to post-delivery. The study is based on a comScore survey of 5,118 U.S. online shoppers.

The study found that online shoppers frequently change retail channels during their shopping experience. Better prices (57%) and selection (49%) are the top reasons for purchasing online after researching an item in-store. Nearly half (48%) of online shoppers have used ship to store in the past year, and 45% of those consumers made an additional purchase when picking up their online purchase.

When a purchase is made online from a retailer that has an online and physical store, 39% of consumers who make returns prefer to ship the product back while 61% prefer to return the item to the store. When making an in-store return, 70% purchase an additional item compared to only 42% who make a new purchase while processing an online return.

Respondents said they continue to use personal computers to shop and compare prices, and complement their use as they become more comfortable using mobile technology: 41% use their smartphone for research, while 30% make purchases. Online shoppers appreciate the convenience of smartphones on-the-go and in-store. Smartphone users project making more purchases on their device in the next year.

Retailers need to continue to advance their mobile platforms, as 38% who have a mobile device but do not use it to make purchases said product images are not large or clear enough, and 30% said it’s hard to compare products.

Retail continues to evolve as some online shoppers consider using mobile technologies in store: 33% find electronic shelf labels appealing, 29% said they will consider mobile checkout, and 27% said they are open to using touch screens to receive information, make purchases or arrange deliveries.

Free shipping remains the most important option during checkout according to 77% of online shoppers. More than half (60%) have added items to their cart to qualify for free shipping.

The study provides insight to help retailers increase sales – 48% of online shoppers said they ship items to the store, with 45% of those saying they made additional purchases when picking up their orders.

According to the report, only 62% of consumers are satisfied with the online returns process: 67% review a retailer’s return policy before making a purchase, 66% want free return shipping, 58% want a hassle-free “no questions asked” return policy, and 47% want an easy-to-print return label.

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