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The reasons why consumers shop online instead of in stores


Chart of the Day: Drivers and barriers for online purchase

When I first got involved in digital marketing in the mid 1990s, online shopping via ecommerce was in its infancy. It’s hard to believe now, but many consumers were reluctant to buy online, so it was important for retailers to understand the drivers and barriers to online purchase. Then tactics, messaging and incentives could be developed to encourage online purchase.

Today, purchasing online is accepted by many, but if you look across categories of purchase, there are some sectors where there is still reluctance to buy online, so online retailers still need to work on their tactics to encourage online conversion and multichannel tactics to encourage offline purchase in store. A new report from KPMG has some of the most detailed research evaluating the consumer psychology of purchase, broken down by different countries, so I’m showcasing some of the main findings here. I hope it will be particularly useful for students studying marketing qualifications who are looking to understand consumer behaviour and motivations.

Reasons consumers shop online

These are main reasons consumers give for online shopping.

You can see that convenience and price comparison are the main drivers. This chart also illustrates the importance of free shipping offers.  The 40-page report also considers variation in perception by country and in different generation groups from Baby Boomers to Gen X and Millenials.

The 6Cs of Online Commerce

This research reminded me of a simple mnemonic I developed in one of our books which I think is still covered in many universities and colleges. These are the 6Cs of Online Shopping or Consumer motivation:

  • Content
  • Customisation
  • Community
  • Convenience
  • Cost Reduction
  • Choice
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Considering these, most are covered, but community is not – this relates to UGC and reviews which are covered elsewhere in the research report.

The reason consumers prefer to shop in-store

It’s also useful for retailers to consider the drivers for offline purchases since this suggests how online merchandising techniques like interactive product shots, VR and AR can help with the need to see/touch/try the product.

It also shows the importance of the trust factor and it is still important to reassure the credibility of the supplier and possible provide human-assisted options online.

Research details



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