Consumers Prefer In-Person Experiences for First Time Purchases

When buying something for the first time, customers prefer to make purchases in-person over online by 20 percentage points, despite the hype around e-commerce and online shopping, consumers still look to shop in the physical store. For products that a customer has never purchased before, 50 percent of shoppers opt for in-store retailers.

Credit: Google

To help retailers better understand customer preferences, TimeTrade, the leading provider of online appointment scheduling, surveyed more than 1,000 consumers about their perceptions and habits around retail shopping.

The survey data suggests that shopping trends are favoring the brick-and-mortar model, despite perceptions that the rise of e-tailers would jeopardize the physical retail store.“The bottom line is customers value the personal experience of the physical store,” said Gary Ambrosino, CEO of TimeTrade. “We found that shoppers have done their shopping or discovery online, then go into the store to get help with their final purchase decision.

Salesforce wanted to examine the differences in customer preferences between online marketplaces such as Amazon, retailers and brand stores. What the research found was that customers like to purchase items from bricks-and-mortar retailers when buying something unfamiliar, but they prefer buying from online marketplaces when seeking something they have already bought before.


The modern retail landscape is a constant push and pull between retailers, brands and online marketplaces such as Amazon.

Customers regularly use all three, but for different reasons and in different contexts. To understand more about how consumers navigate between these three, Salesforce surveyed thousands of shoppers across six countries.

What the study found was that for products that a customer has never purchased before, 50 percent go for retailers and 31 percent opt to buy via online marketplaces. However, for products that customers have already bought before, 47 percent go online and 34 percent prefer retailers.

First time vs. repeat purchases. Image credit: Salesforce

What this means is that customers prefer the ease and convenience of shopping online for things they are already acquainted with, but desire the in-person experience of examining something before purchasing if they are less familiar with it.

Other findings from the report show that mobile is more useful to customers as a research tool than for actually making purchases.

Eighty-three percent of shoppers aged 18 to 44 uses their mobile devices to search for products while in-store, however only 18 percent of shoppers use their phones to actually make purchases.

Shopping Habits

Luxury brands are aware of this trend and have begun tailoring both their online and in-store experiences to have the same level of personalization.

For example, Swiss watchmaker Hublot is unveiling a digital boutique that aims to make the online shopping experience more compatible with what customers would see when going into a physical store.

The Hublot Digital Boutique allows any customer the ability to discuss the intricacies of different products with Hublot sales associates in real time, just as they would if they went into the store. The digital boutique is part of a larger trend in physical retail that sees brands more closely integrating their online and offline experiences.

In-store mobile tools have also become quite common. For instance, British apparel and accessories label Mulberry has teamed up with Tulip Mobile to overhaul the brand’s in-store experience.

Together, the two companies will focus on using mobile tools to improve the bricks-and-mortar experience for customers by supplying employees and sales associates with technological tools. Tulip will help Mulberry roll out a number of new features using these tools to streamline how customers shop and checkout.

Source: Luxury Society

No Comments Yet

Comments are closed