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Report: The State of Omnichannel Shopping

jackie barba
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Bazaarvoice, a product reviews and user-generated content (UGC) tech company, recently published research via an e-book showing that the line between online and offline shopping continues to blur. Based on a survey of more than 6,000 shoppers around the world and more than 400 retailers, the report shows that most consumers seek out multiple touchpoints when making a purchase decision. 

Shoppers are influencing other shoppers through UGC at all stages in the purchase journey, with social media playing an increasingly important role in discovery, research and conversion, according to the report. More than ever, brands need to understand the "research online, buy offline" (ROBO) economy and how to scale user-generated content across all relevant areas their audience is researching in order to stand out in this competitive environment.

“Not having a robust omnichannel strategy is now a key barrier to success,” said Ainslie Fincham, marketing director at home and furniture retailer Urban Barn, in a news release. “We work to make every avenue available to our shoppers helpful in making a decision to convert, no matter where they end up making a purchase be it in-store, online or via social media.” 

Highlights from the consumer portion of the survey include: 

  • Two thirds of consumers prefer omnichannel shopping. When asked what mode of shopping they felt happiest in, 66% of shoppers said a hybrid of both in-store and online, 25% said in-store and 8% said online. 
  • Almost two-thirds of shoppers use their smartphone in-store to look at price comparisons (69%), product reviews (60%), advice from friends/family (33%) and product demonstrations (30%).
  • A generational gap in behavior exists. Most consumers aged 25-34 enjoy a hybrid of shopping methods (75%), but for those aged 65 and older, just over half (56%) prefer a mix of both in-store and online.  
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  • Shopper voices and verified reviews power commerce. UGC makes up seven of the top 10 types of research shoppers prefer to utilize before buying (e.g., product ratings, written reviews from verified buyers, expert reviews, questions and answers, recommendations from friends/family, shopper photos of the product and visual reviews from verified buyers.)
  • Social media increasingly influences shoppers. One in five respondents said they shop on social media, mostly from Facebook shops (41%), via influencers’ Instagram stories (37%) and via sponsored ads on Instagram (36%). 
  • Online research is universal. Both online (79%) and in-store (59%) shoppers conduct research online prior to purchasing.
  • Price points remains key. After seeing a product online, 80% of respondents said they are more likely to go in-store when if the price is high, 54% say to check the quality and 46% said to purchase immediately.

“Consumers are savvier than ever before, researching products before buying them using every touchpoint available, making shopping less segmented than ever,” said Zarina Lam Stanford, Bazaarvoice chief marketing officer, in the release. “This allows businesses to utilize the voice of the consumer to their advantage. Providing it online, on social media and even in-store, presents the research materials that shoppers crave no matter where they are.”

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