10 Things You Didn’t Know About UK Online Shopping

Think you’re a typical online shopper? Think again. A new survey gives insights into the UK shopper that will make you look in different ways at how we spend our money online

The Consumer Insights survey of 18,037 shoppers aged 18+ across 15 countries by YouGov for Magento came up with some fascinating facts about how we spend our money and why we make the choices we do.

With the coronavirus lockdown leading to an ever greater acceleration of the move away from the High Street and into online shopping, it’s no surprise that we’re doing more and more of our browsing and buying online – nearing the £175b mark in the UK this year.

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Bricks or clicks?

Visits to bricks-and-mortar stores are down 10 percent in the last seven years, and in America, a survey showed that 14 percent of respondents had shopped online for the first time during lockdown, while 56 percent had increased their online spending in the same period.

But Brits are apparently among the most reluctant to make a decision without seeing the product in the flesh.

  • Brits make fewer unplanned purchases online (8 percent against 15 percent internationally), spend less time searching for the best price (22 percent against 32 percent internationally) and are less likely to feel overwhelmed with choice (just 11 percent).

We’re pretty good at making fast purchases through, implying that we have seen what we want in a shop and have made our minds up what we want, rather than spending a lot of time browsing online.

  • 24 percent have completed a transaction in less than two minutes, implying they knew what they wanted and bought it.

And interestingly, Brits don’t seem to be much influenced in their buying decisions by, er, ‘influencers’.

  • Just 2 percent of UK consumers have used Instagram shopping, and just only 3 percent would be likely to buy from an ‘influencer’. We are though concerned about ‘brand reputation’, with 44 percent stating it’s important.

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New technology

We’re also not too impressed by fancy-schmancy technological online payment methods like cryptocurrencies or e-wallets.

  • Debit and credit cards are still the most popular way of paying online. Over half of UK consumers (51 percent) say they would avoid an online retailer if they did not accept debit cards, while only 35 percent would insist on credit card options and only 2 percent are interested in cryptocurrencies and e-wallets, compared with 6 percent internationally.

So what makes a UK shopper choose an online retailer? The survey suggests that retailers find it a bit hard to tell – particularly since we’re far more concerned about data protection and avoiding junk mail than we are about having a ‘personalised’ shopping experience online.

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  • Price, free delivery and free returns are the most important factors in choosing to shop with a website a second time.

  • 61 percent of UK respondents cited free delivery as most important, while 42 percent cited free returns – surprisingly, 45-54 year olds drove this demand (44 percent) while 18-24 year olds were less ‘bovvered’ (32 percent). They were though keen on loyalty schemes (33 percent) and click-and-collect (24 percent).

  • The older we get, the more we’re concerned about data protection – only 40 percent of 18-24s are concerned, rising to 51 percent for 55+.

As it costs a business more to get a new customer than to keep an existing one, the survey suggests that it’s important to encourage repeat business – but what is it that brings customers back to a retail website rather than browsing for a new one?

User friendly

When we’re using a website, the survey suggests that our main concern is that it’s:

  • Easy to use (56 percent), more important than what it looks like (16 percent). We’re also keen that it loads quickly, works on a smartphone, shows accurate stock data and has good product availability.

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But there are some other factors in choosing an online retailer; for instance we’re quite inclined to select one with a positive environmental policy.

  • 47 percent of UK shoppers favour retailers that minimise packaging, 32 percent would choose one that doesn’t use single-use plastics, and 29 percent go for one that limits carbon emissions in its supply chain.

So what do we really, really hate about the online shopping experience? Apparently,

  • 28 percent of us will leave an online transaction uncompleted (known as ‘cart abandonment’) if we don’t see a free returns option, for some reason particularly in Wales; while 28 percent would unsubscribe from a mailing list if it contained wrong or irrelevant information.

And it’s obvious that we still like the human touch. Only 9 percent said that they were likely to buy from a fully automated online retail operation with no humans involved, compared with 33 percent internationally.

Shopping habits

So if you think you’re a typical online shopper, you may have to think again. Not only do UK shoppers differ in their outlooks and habits from the rest of the world, but this new survey’s insights into the UK shopper will make you look in different ways at how we spend our money online.

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