Despite Constant Internet Connection, Holiday Shoppers Are Twice As Likely To Buy In-Store

But woe to those retailers who don’t recognize the importance of interactivity in shaping the total shopping experience, says Swirl Networks.

Swirl's Hilmi Ozguc
Swirl’s Hilmi Ozguc

The big opportunity this holiday season is for retailers is to find new ways to engage with shoppers on their mobile device while they are in the store, says proximity marketing platform Swirl Networks, which found that 86 percent of shoppers would spend more at stores offering a more personalized and connected online, mobile, and in-store experience.

“This Black Friday, shoppers will be more digitally connected than ever,” said Hilmi Ozguc, Swirl’s CEO. “Our research shows that while consumers overwhelmingly prefer to shop in-store, they have become increasingly reliant on smartphones to guide their decisions — creating a huge opportunity for retailers, or their competitors, to influence purchases. The future of shopping is about connecting brick-and-mortar with mobile, and the Internet of Things is powering that connection. Leading retailers are using Bluetooth beacons to create mobile-enhanced experiences that drive shopper engagement and sales.”

For its Consumer Research November 2015 project, Swirl commissioned independent research firm Research Now to study the mobile and shopping preferences of 1,000 U.S. consumers in November 2015. The margin of error for this study is +/- 3 percent.

The Connected Shopper

  • Consumers are more than 2x as likely to buy in-store than online or on mobile
  • 68 percent make a purchase in store at least once a week
  • 30 percent make a purchase online at least once a week
  • 27 percent make a purchase on mobile at least once a week

BUT, online and mobile play a key role in the shopping journey

  • 67 percent go online at least once a week to help with / prepare for shopping (68 percent of Gen Z, 71 percent of Millennials)
  • 63 percent use their smartphone at least once a week to help with / prepare for shopping (65 percent of Gen Z, 70 percent of Millennials)
  • 57 percent use their smartphone at least once a week while shopping in-store (63 percent of Gen Z, 64 percent of Millennials)

Why do they shop in-store? Consumers value the unique advantages that stores have over buying online or on mobile, but help from store associates is lowest on the list.

The main reasons consumers choose to shop in-store include:

  • 47 percent – to see/touch items before buying
  • 41 percent – for the ability to take it home immediately
  • 30 percent – to take advantage of in-store sales
  • 30 percent – to redeem offers/coupons
  • 22 percent – to enjoy the experience (it’s fun)
  • 20 percent – because it’s more secure than buying online
  • 11 percent – to get assistance from sales associates

In-store shopping is about a hands-on experience. These are shopper’s most common in-store behaviors (done on a regular basis):

  • 77 percent check prices while shopping in-store
  • 76 percent look for or take advantage of sales while shopping in-store
  • 74 percent touch and feel items while shopping in-store
  • 66 percent buy items while shopping in-store
  • 59 percent compare items side by side while shopping in-store
  • 51 percent redeem coupons/offers
  • 51 percent learn about products from displays and packages
  • 50 percent explore/browse for new ideas

And the smartphone has become an integral part of the in-store shopping experience for consumers.

  • 57 percent regularly use their smartphone to look for offers/coupons while shopping in-store
  • 52 percent regularly use their smartphone to compare prices while shopping in-store
  • 49 percent regularly use their smartphone to get more product info on a product/category while shopping in-store
  • 42 percent regularly use their smartphone to create shopping/favorite lists while shopping in-store
  • 40 percent regularly use their smartphone to access social media/friends while shopping
About The Author
David Kaplan David Kaplan @davidakaplan

A New York City-based journalist for over 20 years, David Kaplan is managing editor of A former editor and reporter at AdExchanger, paidContent, Adweek and MediaPost.