Retail in Asia

In Trends

Online or offline? Study shows consumers in transitional state

Today’s consumers are exploring more ways to shop for and acquire goods and are becoming increasingly open to buying both online and in-store depending on their needs at time of purchase, a new IBM study showed.

At this transitional state, consumers are still ambivalent about online and in-store shopping.

The study, released at the 2013 National Retail Federation convention in the US recently, surveyed 26,000 global consumers.

The survey showed that 35 percent are unsure whether they would next shop at a store or online. Nine percent are, however, ready to commit to making future purchases online.

IBM said of all eight product categories tracked in the survey, the two most popular categories chosen by consumers for an online shift are consumer electronics and luxury items, including jewelry and designer apparel.

Jill Puleri, Global Retail Leader, IBM Global Business Services, said that retailers must deliver a consistent, convenient shopping experience across each consumer touch point, extending from the store to online and back again.

"The key is using data and analytics to better understand the behavior and preferences of shoppers to close the sale," she said.

The IBM study also found that nearly half of online purchases in studied categories resulted from “showrooming,” a burgeoning trend in which consumers browse goods at a store, but ultimately buy them online.

Younger, male and affluent shoppers are most likely to showroom. Although a global phenomenon, there is a higher incidence of showrooming in China (26 percent) and India (13 percent) than the US (7 percent),

IBM said retailers must better connect their store and online presence to capture the sale to showroomers.