Aussies prefer to shop in store, but virtual experiences drive online

Despite the spike in online shopping behaviour due to Covid-19, Australians still prefer to shop in bricks and mortar stores, according to new research by Toluna.

However, says the consumer intelligence platform, the rise of virtual shopping experiences – such as augmented reality and online product try-ons – may soon replace the need for tactile shopping experiences. 73% of respondents are “more likely” to purchase a product they’ve tried on virtually.

The research, which surveyed 1005 Australians between 12-14 March 2021, showed that across the board, the “majority” of Australian shoppers still prefer to shop in store. This is particularly the case when shopping for groceries (77%), personal care products (70%) furniture (67%) and home improvement tools (67%). Just over half of the respondents preferred shopping in store for clothing (59%), beauty products (56%) and sporting equipment (53%).

Electronics was the only category which respondents preferred to shop online (51%) vs in store (49%).

Tactile, real-life experiences essential 

According to the research, respondents said online shopping is convenient (64%), saves time (54%) and makes it easier to compare prices (50%).

But despite its benefits, says Toluna, less than half of the respondents (42%) actually enjoy online shopping, with another 40% on the fence, stating it depends on the store.

For those who’ve been shopping more online due to Covid-19, it’s said to be the tactile, real-life experiences they’ve missed the most about shopping in stores, such as hand-picking items (67%), trying things on (57%), testing items before buying them (46%) and face to face customer service (50%).

Toluna Australia & New Zealand Country Director Sej Patel says the research highlights the importance of experience for shoppers, whether in-person or online.

“We hear a lot about the importance of experiential retail, and these results show us that experience is as important as ever,” he says.

“Shoppers want to touch and feel products, to try them on, to speak to customer support people in real life. Bricks and mortar retailers can take comfort in this and continue to provide the best in store experiences for their customers.”

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