The proportion of Britons who intend to use the internet to buy cars, motorcycles or related accessories ‘in the next six months’ has jumped more than three times since 2011, from just 5% to 17% in 2014. Similarly, the intent to go online to purchase computer hardware (to 28%) and software (to 30%) as well as eBooks (to 33%) has tripled.
The Nielsen Global Survey of e-commerce, which polled more than 30,000 Internet respondents in 60 countries, shows that clothes/shoes/accessories, hotel rooms (both 45%) and airline tickets (43%) are set to be the most common items bought online by British consumers over the next six months.Tickets for events, such as cinema, concerts and exhibitions (41%), DVD/game discs and books (both 39%) are set to be purchased online by four in every 10 people.
Britons more likely to shop online than Europeans
British consumers are almost 40% more likely to buy items online than Europeans as a whole. Britons are much more likely to buy certain products – particularly DVD/game discs and groceries (both 86% more likely), flowers (73%), CD/records (68%) and alcoholic drinks (67%).
Only one of the 22 product categories measured – cosmetics – is less likely (-14%) to be purchased online by Britons than Europeans a whole.
Delivery costs and credit card concerns holding back e-commerce
However, one third (34%) of Britons don’t like buying online due to delivery costs, while three in 10 (29%) don’t trust giving their credit card information online. One in four (24%) often find shopping sites very confusing.
Over half (56%) admit they often check out products online before buying in a shop.
“Although it’s an undoubted success, three key actions are needed by retailers to fully realise e-commerce’s true potential,” said Mike Watkins, Nielsen’s UK head of retailer and business insight. “More reassuring security features to improve consumer confidence are a must, whilst free delivery should be a serious consideration. Sites should also have easier navigation and clearer presentation – retailers rightly put a lot of effort into perfecting this in-store and their virtual shops require the same level of attention.”
How the internet is changing shopping
Six in 10 (59%) people in the UK say they can usually get the best price online, while over four in 10 (43%) say they often check out products in a shop before buying online. This is most likely to happen for books, holidays, pet products and clothing/shoes/accessories – products people are noticeably more likely to buy online than browse online, indicating they know what they’ll buy before going online.
However, half (50%) of Britons, overall, say they spend a lot of time researching online before buying and over half (54%) read online reviews beforehand. Nearly one in five (18%) Britons use social media to help make purchase decisions – although this is almost half the European average (33%).
One in five (20%) consumers use price-saving apps or websites when planning a shopping trip while over one in six (16%) say they now use price-saving apps whilst in a shop.
Britons are three times more likely to use computers (76%) for shopping online than mobiles (25%) and (24%) tablets. Britons use of mobiles is noticeably lower than the European average (33%).
“The way people navigate between shops and the internet to buy isn’t consistent,” concludes Watkins. “For some, the internet is simply the checkout, for others it plays a fundamental role in what to buy, from whom and whether to do so online or in-store. For the same person, this behaviour could differ between products. The proliferation of devices simply adds to the complexity.
“Have shopping habits changed forever? Will people still make shopping trips? Will they buy everything in one go or shop throughout the day, one or two items at a time, shifting between retailers? This is what we’re dedicated to uncovering.”