When it comes to researching and purchasing products and services, digital is now the preferred choice among shoppers. A recent study (March 2014) commissioned by UPS, and conducted jointly by comScore and the e-tailing group, revealed that among digital shoppers in the US, over 80 percent favored using the Internet to research products from multichannel retailers. Data from the survey showed that more than 60 percent did so from their laptop or desktop; and a combined 21 percent used either a tablet (11%) or a smartphone (10%). Fewer than 15 percent showed a preference for in-store research.

When it came to making purchases, 55 percent did so on an electronic device, while only 41 percent showed a preference for in-store transactions. Regarding the devices used for sales transactions, laptops and desktops still dominated the landscape although smartphones and tablets were gaining ground. The primary reason cited for choosing a PC over a mobile device was pictures used in product presentation were easier to see.

Mobile devices were trending upward as a research tool, slowly encroaching on PC use. While 25 percent of respondents said they used a mobile device to conduct research before a store visit, over 20 percent said they conducted their research and price comparisons while on a store’s premises to see if better deals were available elsewhere (36 percent confessed to this activity).

However, price comparison information was not the only motivator behind making a purchase. The study also showed that social media was a strong influencer in the decision-making process. Thirty-three percent of all shoppers said social media influenced whether they made a purchase or not, with Facebook being far and away the most commonly used platform (by 74% of respondents). In addition, a majority of Facebook users (67%) said the “liked” a retailer at least once, and four out of five pay attention to retailer updates.

In order to help brick-and-mortar stores compete, and to combat showrooming, the study suggests incorporating in-store technology that improves shopper experience and satisfaction. This should include product and pricing locators on site and on-line to help find inventory, evaluating available mobile tools, and exploring additional technology that will both inform and assist the consumer.


eMarketer. “Consumers Choose Digital for Product Research, Purchases”; June 24, 2014.

UPS Pulse of the Online Shopper: A Customer Experience Study”; UPS. June 2014.